Labour back to the ed­i­ble ba­sics

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By KRIS DANDO

The Labour Party chose Pataka Mu­seum to an­nounce its pol­icy on cut­ting GST on fresh fruit and veg­eta­bles should the party re­turn to power at next year’s gen­eral elec­tion.

The Helen Smith Room was packed for last Mon­day’s speech from Op­po­si­tion leader Phil Goff, with me­dia and tele­vi­sion cam­eras fight­ing for room with Labour sup­port­ers. Prior to the an­nounce­ment, Mr Goff in­tro­duced Mana by-elec­tion can­di­date Kris Faafoi, who is con­test­ing the Mana seat left va­cant by Win­nie La­ban.

Mr Goff ac­knowl­edged chil­dren from Holy Fam­ily School, who were there to sing a song, and ad­mired the box of fruit in their midst.

He said al­though Labour had kicked off the Fruit in Schools pro­gramme, it wasn’t enough for fam­i­lies, hence the pol­icy to take GST off fresh fruit and veg­eta­bles.

‘‘We’re tak­ing the full 15 per cent off. We un­der­stand the huge pres­sures fam­i­lies are fac­ing be­cause of ris­ing prices, while there haven’t been wage in­creases at the same time, and now this ex­tra 2.5 per cent comes on Oc­to­ber 1 [GST rose to 15 per cent on Fri­day]. It’s time there was a sense of fair­ness and do­ing what’s right.’’

Mr Goff said New Zealand’s high obe­sity lev­els in chil­dren was of par­tic­u­lar con­cern and mak­ing fresh fruit and veg­eta­bles more ac­ces­si­ble to low­er­in­come fam­i­lies, could ar­rest that. He said New Zealand’s two big su­per­mar­ket chains, Food­stuffs and Pro­gres­sive En­ter­prises, had told him re­mov­ing GST from pro­duce would not add to their costs.

‘‘We fig­ure it will cost around $250 mil­lion out of the govern­ment cof­fers to do this and give $300 or $400 back to fam­i­lies ev­ery year,’’ he said.

‘‘It will be wel­comed by peo­ple lo­cally and across New Zealand. We want to bring down the cost of liv­ing and help them make the choice for health­ier food.’’

Na­tional’s Mana by-elec­tion can­di­date Hekia Parata la­belled the move a ‘‘gim­mick’’ and sug­gested a more prac­ti­cal move was to en­cour­age peo­ple to buy their pro­duce from the Satur­day mar­ket in Porirua’s city cen­tre.

She said Na­tional’s tax switch pol­icy is far bet­ter for the econ­omy and for av­er­age fam­i­lies than tak­ing the GST off fruit and veg­eta­bles, which ‘‘misses the mark’’ and is about scor­ing po­lit­i­cal points.

‘‘If we were to be­lieve Labour’s fig­ures, the re­moval of GST from fresh fruit and veg­eta­bles would amount to sav­ings of around $1-a-week per per­son.

‘‘Fur­ther­more, it would se­ri­ously com­pli­cate the tax sys­tem, in­evitably lead to le­gal chal­lenges about what’s in and what’s out, and would pro­vide the great­est ben­e­fit to higher in­come earn­ers. It will do pre­cisely noth­ing to pro­mote growth or cre­ate jobs.’’

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