- Brian Turner, EcuAction

A massive $14.5 billion tax bribe by the Nats got them over the line in the October 2023 election, in comparison to an insipid Labour Party offer and Labour's sell out of the more courageous Greens. At the time of writing, it remains to be seen whether spoiler Winston Peters and NZ First agree to the tax bribe if they are needed to give National and ACT a workable majority. Presently, National is only promising its maximum $250 per fortnight bribe to 3,000 households out of an estimated 1.9 million households in NZ.

Tax-wise, the election was a massive missed opportunity for the Labour government. Earlier indications were that Labour ministers Grant Robertson and David Parker were pushing for a wealth tax which is core Greens' tax policy, but PM Hipkins ruled it out, as he ruled out a lot of previous progressive Labour policy. Parker as Revenue Minister resigned that portfolio in protest. It was a huge lost opportunity given that polls showed a majority of Kiwis polled were in favour of either a wealth or capital gains tax.

Abolish & Replace GST

EcuAction, a Canterbury-based interfaith advocacy group, supplemented by experienced activists and analysts John Minto, Paul Piesse and First Union's Paul Watson, campaigned for abolishing GST which is a regressive tax that penalises the poor much more than the rich and replacing or reducing GST with three alternative levies/taxes that would more than compensate Government for the loss of GST. The three were a financial transactions levy, a wealth tax and a capital acquisitions (e.g. inheritance type) tax.

EcuAction also joined up with Tax Justice Aotearoa, a coalition of approximately 20 non-Government organisations (NGOs), which campaigned for a fairer tax system under the banner "Better Taxes For A Better Future". Labour subsequently agreed to abolish GST on fruit and veges as did NZ First until Winston Peters changed that policy on the hoof! Te Pāti Māori went even further by proposing no GST on any food. Only the NZ Loyal Party (led by Liz Gunn) was in favour of a 1% transaction tax to "replace all other taxes".

National hoped to pay for its tax bribe by indexing all benefits (except superannuation) to the cost of living rather than wage and salary increases, thereby saving $2 billion over four years, and by applying a 15% tax on overseas buyers of homes of $2 million and more in value (New Zealand First vetoed the latter, as part of its conditions for a coalition with National. Ed.). Expenditure cuts are also likely to core public services. All of which will keep NZ at the top of the list with the fastest growing gap between rich and poor in a survey of 23 of 38 Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries. Hopefully, the combined efforts of the Greens and Te Pāti Māori in arguing the case for a more equitable tax regime within Aotearoa-NZ will eventually bear fruit.


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