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.

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