Tax policy a focus on the hustings
There will be no $18 cabbages and farmers will not go out of business should the government change come September 23, Labour Party Waitaki electorate candidate Zelie Allan says.
It was true her party wanted to introduce a royalty on commercial water use but it was not true that such a proposal would lead to high prices and business ruin, she said
Instead, the royalty – which she said the National Party had re-cast as a tax – would be ‘‘proportionate and fair’’.
Her party’s water and tax policies were challenged at a similar meeting in Waimate on Tuesday, but Allan was not there to defend them.
However, before a sometimes raucous crowd of about 100 people in Oamaru on Wednesday night, she sought to clarify her party’s tax position.
She explained GST would remain the same and secondary tax would be abolished. Such a tax ‘‘denied wages’’ and stopped ‘‘people making ends meet’’, she said.
‘‘We can do better. We will do better,’’ she said.
The candidate’s explanation came during an election campaign period in National, in particular, challenged Labour to explain its post-election tax plans.
National Party candidate and incumbent MP Jacqui Dean maintained the momentum: ‘‘The biggest threat facing New Zealand is a Labour and Green tax.
‘‘Which tax would you like them to have? Land Tax? Tourist tax? Funding will be sucked out of your pocket for education,’’ she said.
‘‘It is a tax on productivity. Remember the drought of the 80s, remember when the taps got turned off? The rural network will turn off.’’
Dean said Labour did not remember conditions in the region in the 1980s.
Green Party representative Shane Gallagher said his party wanted to lower taxes for low income earners, and raise them for high earners.
‘‘We want to increase tax for people earning over $150,000 to 40 per cent tax. We can end poverty with that tax.
‘‘We want to punish polluters. In respect to the water tax, it is a royalty. It [water] is owned by every New Zealander.
‘‘Tax is not bad, it is a social good. It helps us contribute.’’
The Opportunities Party candidate Kevin Neill supported a water tax. He said his party wanted ‘‘farmers to value the water’’.
He and other candidates noted the regional push for tourists top pay more toward the infrastructure they used.
He argued a tourist levy would not affect tourism unduly. European states had imposed similar levies and they had ‘‘worked perfectly fine’’.
‘‘A levy will help pay for infrastructure. It’s a logical step to take.
‘‘I want to see, given the tourists, a GST that directly correlates to the area, that is collected to the region.’’
The Labour Party has already proposed a $25 levy for tourists. Allan said the cost of tourism infrastructure should be covered by international tourists and there was no evidence it would affect tourist numbers.
New Zealand First candidate Alex Familton said he supported the idea.
‘‘It’s only fair that the international tourists using the infrastructure should pay for it,’’ the former Waitaki mayor said.
Dean said the response to such issues should not be to simply strike another tax. A visitor levy would be a disincentive at the border, she said, to some booing from the crowd.
The candidates meeting was held at the Oamaru Opera House.