New Zealand

Singer Rob Ruba recovering after heart attack and surgery

Further to the reactions covered in The Bulletin this morning, One News and Stuff political commentators have added their two cents to the kōrero about the National Party’s proposed tax policy. Stuff’s chief political correspondent, Tova O’Brien, summed up the situation, saying the plan gets a slow clap rather than riotous applause. Politically, though, middle New Zealanders have given National’s finance spokesperson Nicola Willis a standing ovation, O’Brien reports.

“Tax cuts paid for with bureaucracy cuts and by stinging online gambling operators, foreign buyers and immigrants… What’s not to love if you’re ‘squeezed” middle New Zealand?’ she says. O’Brien argues that those very same voters will decide this election, clearly highlighted by Labour and National courting their votes. National has implied it would institute a three-yearly review of tax thresholds that create tax cuts during “election bribe season, starting in 2026”. O’Brien comments.

But she reports, National’s “standing ovation gets sat down pretty damn quick though if you’re less ‘squeezed middle’, more ‘flat out broke’. Giving the example of a politician earning $160,000 versus a minimum wage earner on $48,000, O’Brien explains the former will receive a weekly tax cut tenfold the size the latter will receive. However, she acknowledges that National has other plans targeting low-income households, although these are “still-not-whopping” but better than Labour’s “even-less-whopping” GST off fruit and vegetables scheme. 

O’Brien also says, “Where the applause slows, and the awkward shuffling comes in, is how National plans to pay for this $14.6 billion vote winner”, noting that Labour has questioned National’s ability to pay for its policies. Labour gave the example that National suggesting they could rake in $180m from online gambling operators would, in reality, only amount to $40-50m. Additionally, the plan would require nearly $600m in public service cuts, which O’Brien believes “could start cutting into the meat, if not the bone, of the public service”.

One News political editor Jessica Mutch McKay called National’s tax policy a political good move during a cost of living election but identified other leaking holes in National’s tax bucket. She says the plan to allow overseas buyers to purchase New Zealand homes above $2m while paying a 15% tax will be targeted by Labour. Mutch McKay reports that New Zealanders not only already feel iffy about overseas buyers, but Labour believes National’s suggestion that the policy will raise $3bn over four years is impossible because of tax treaties with other countries. Labour argues many countries would be exempt from this 15% tax because of tax treaties. 

She also identified provisions for landlords as another political hole in National’s plan that Labour will do everything to enlarge. The government will say the cost will be passed on to tenants and that National is simply propping up wealthy landlords. Mutch McKay argues, “When you only have a few sentences to convince voters, these attack lines can resonate.” However, she adds the timing of National’s announcement allows it to sell this policy on the campaign trail, not the debating chamber. 

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button