Taxpayer Update: NEW POLL 📊💥 | National's tax plan 👎 | Labour’s taxpayer-funded dental 🆓🦷 | Taxpayers’ Union debates 📺🗣️
NEW POLL: National/ACT could form government comfortably 📊💥
This month's Taxpayers’ Union – Curia Poll sees National and ACT being able to form a Government by a more comfortable margin than last month. Labour continues to languish at a record low while New Zealand First fail to reach the threshold to enter Parliament in this poll.
Here are the headline results:
Both National and Labour are unchanged on last month at 35% and 27%, respectively. ACT is up 1 point to 14% and the Greens are also up to 1 point to 13%.
The smaller parties are NZ First on 3.9% (-1.9 points), the Māori Party on 2.9% (+0.4 points), TOP on 2.7% (+1.7 points), New Conservatives on 0.8% (+0.2 points), Vision NZ on 0.5% (-0.6 points), and the Outdoors & Freedom on 0.2%. (-0.3 points).
Here is how these results would translate to seats in the Parliament:
National and Labour are both up 1 seat on last month to 45 and 35 seats respectively. ACT is up 2 seats to 19 while the Greens pick up 2 seats for a total of 17. The Māori Party is up 1 seat on last month to 4. NZ First would win no seats in Parliament (-7 seats).
The combined projected seats for the Centre-Right of 64 seats is up 3 from last month and would allow National/ACT to form a government. The combined seats for the Centre-Left bloc of 56 is up 4.
Had NZ First hit the five percent threshold, the Centre-Right would still be able to form a government, but only just (61 seats).
Chris Hipkins has a net favourability of +16% (+7 points) while Christopher Luxon has a score -4% (+3 points) and David Seymour is on -13% (-5 points). James Shaw scores of -16%, Rawiri Waititi gets -23% and Winston Peters is on -38%.
National goes with an underwhelming tax plan 🔵💸
Last election National ran on a policy to recalibrate the income tax system to account for inflation since John Key was Prime Minister. No such luck this time – despite Mr Luxon's repeated comments that the Government has wasted money, the tax relief being offered, only account for inflation (fiscal drag) back to 2021!
First the good. They committed to:
Scrapping App Tax. Labour slapped GST on all digital purchases even if the supplier is under the $60,000 threshold, pushing up the prices of Uber and Airbnb
Pausing Chris Hipkins' proposed fuel taxes hikes over the next three years
Dumping the Auckland Regional Fuel Tax – it hasn't even been used for the road infrastructure which had been promised!
Giving some of the money raised through the Emissions Trading Scheme carbon credit auctions back to New Zealanders in the form of a carbon dividend by reducing corporate welfare – but it still wants to keep the political slush fund (just make it smaller)
Dropping Labour’s GST carve out for fruit and vegetable that would increase the profits of supermarkets
Restoring interest deductibility on mortgage payments for landlords
Reducing the bright-line test back to two years – this is just a capital gains tax with another name. Rather than tinker with tax, the National Party should have scrapped it entirely and committed to actually fixing the regulatory taxes that continue to cause the lack of supply and unaffordable housing.
The party says its tax proposals will deliver up to $250 more per fortnight for an average-income family with children. It seeks to do this in two ways:
First, by expanding tax credits, introducing a new childcare tax credit, and increasing Working for Families tax credits. This is a more targeted measure of getting financial support to those on lower incomes compared with other policies such as removing GST of fruit and vegetables; and
Secondly, by adjusting tax brackets for the last two years of inflation.
A Labour-lite tax policy?
While the headlines would mislead you, National has watered down its previous pledges to adjust tax brackets to account for inflation since Labour took office in 2017. Never mind since when the brackets were last set back in 2010!
Only adjusting tax brackets for the last two years means that those middle earners not benefiting from their expanded tax credits will still be paying much higher tax on average than they would have been had brackets kept pace with inflation.
The party also committed to review tax brackets every three years, but even that is a backdown from their earlier commitment to indexation.
We say tax brackets should be adjusted for inflation automatically every year, not just when the Finance Minister feels like it.
A policy that basically states 'we'll look at tax relief just prior to each election' is really no different to the status quo.
... and National even want to introduce new taxes!
Despite Christopher Luxon having highlighted the shocking 68 per cent increase in Government spending since 2017 and calling out the Government for its excessive spending on consultants and contractors and other wasteful spending, the savings they have found are tiny.
The party has even had to pledge to introduce new revenue-raising mechanisms to fund its plans, including:
A new tax on foreigners wanting to buy a home in New Zealand. While Christopher Luxon says New Zealand needs foreign direct investment and become more like Ireland, he wants to welcome them with a new tax!
Removing commercial building depreciation. This is literally a Labour policy (to fund their own proposed GST fruit and vege carveout) which will make it less attractive to improve and develop buildings
Hiking the charges to the new immigrants that the National Party says they want to attract (in fairness, it is user-pays).
For those wanting to see something more than a "Labour-lite" economic vision to New Zealand "back on track", this is far from encouraging...
An aspirational target for long-term prosperity 📈💰
ACT announced its productivity policy this week with a bold target for New Zealand to be in the top 10 fastest growing economies in the OECD.
Under all of the Helen Clark, John Key/Bill English, and Jacinda Ardern/Chris Hipkins governments, New Zealand has continued to become less prosperous and productive than Australia.
Productivity is arguably the most important factor for our long-term prosperity. It is the ultimate driver of higher wages.
ACT's policy would explicitly require the Government to view policy decisions through a productivity lens. They say that it is only with higher incomes and more wealth can New Zealand afford to pay for high-quality public services. ACT reinforced its commitment to meaningful cuts to taxes and (unlike Mr Luxon) wasteful spending.
Learning lessons from the Celtic Tiger
Our friends at the New Zealand Initiative think tank recently led a business delegation to Ireland where they learnt about that country's spectacular success in improving productivity, growing the economy (thanks, in particular to the country’s openness to foreign direct investment) and rocketing up the OECD economic and living standards league tables.
Ireland’s policies saw their per person income grow from 22% lower than New Zealand in 1979 to 78% higher today. The Initiative's report looks at how we could replicate the success in New Zealand. You can read the report here.
Coming for your digital wallet: Labour looks to introduce one more tax! 💻🤑
Amidst the whirlwind of the election campaign, you may have missed the Government’s announcement that they are introducing yet another new tax – a Digital Service Tax (DST).
And it isn't just us warning against a DST, even the Government’s own advisors at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade warned the Government that New Zealand exporters could face $90 million in tariffs if we proceed on our own. When countries such as the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, Austria, Turkey and India considered or indeed did implement a DST, the USA responded with tariffs or threats of tariffs unless the tax was withdrawn.
Another concerning aspect of this tax is that it applies to sales (i.e. revenue) rather than profit. Large tech companies such as Uber run at a loss for many years while they are in the initial stages of growing a company. Taxing them on revenue rather than profit could see tech companies such as Uber and Netflix pass these higher costs onto consumers (or even withdraw from New Zealand completely).
Whatever happened to that "no new taxes" promise?
Drilling into Labour’s free taxpayer-funded dental policy 🆓🦷
From the desperate political bribes file, Labour have dusted off the old taxpayer-funded dental service.
While the policy sounds appealing on the surface, free dental is nothing to smile about. Just last month, Chris Hipkins said that “the system wouldn’t have the capacity to deal with it, and there would likely be significant investment required just in order to build capacity to meet the need for additional dental care” yet now he is willing to drive the Government’s books further into the red for the sake of buying a few votes!
If you think Chippy can deliver what the old-Chippy said would be too hard, we have 100,000 Kiwibuild houses to sell you.
You're humble Taxpayers' Union has a long memory – Labour appear to have forgotten that back in 2020, the Party promised to deliver an additional 20 mobile dental clinics, but only five have been ordered so far – and the first one hasn’t even arrived yet! So let’s not confuse the promise of more spending with the ability to deliver.
Universal dental is also a costly and unworkable policy that fails to target support at those who need it most. New Zealand only trains 60 dentists a year, and Labour's strict immigration rules make it difficult for more to come in.
It's an F for MFAT: Kiwis Fund Diplomats' Private School Fees 🎒✈️
Last week, Ollie, our Investigations Co-ordinator, brought to light that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) has shelled out a staggering $5 million on private schooling for diplomats' children. What's particularly eye-opening are the amounts spent in countries such as the USA ($817,410.14), Australia ($74,776.98), and the UK ($158,006.02) – nations whose education systems are on par with, if not superior to, New Zealand!
Given the diplomats handsome compensation packages, one can't help but wonder: shouldn't well-compensated diplomats in some of the globe's most developed regions be covering their children’s education expenses?
We say the expenditure comes as a slap in the face to the Kiwi households grappling with financial challenges. You can listen to Ollie on Radio NZ's Morning Report here, or on Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking show here.
Don't like predictable and boring political debates? We've got you covered! 📺🗣️
The Taxpayers' Union debate series hosted by The Working Group is in full swing. We held our party debate in Auckland on Tuesday evening that saw Willie Jackson, Paul Goldsmith, David Seymour, Ricardo Menéndez March, John Tamihere, and Jenny Marcroft battle it out over the economy, crime, the Treaty and the environment.
Kudos to those politicians – in particular Willie Jackson, whom we often spar with – for fronting up and getting stuck into what was the fieriest debate of the election so far. It was great fun although some were perhaps enjoying themselves a bit too much... Willie Jackson got a little too carried away by initially claiming that National and ACT would abolish the minimum wage and the Prime Minister was forced to clarify his comments.
On Tuesday, we head to Kerikeri for our Northland electorate debate. The details to buy tickets are here.
From gamekeeper to poacher? Casey Costello on why she has left the Taxpayers’ Union board to stand for Parliament🎙️🎧
Casey Costello has been on our board since 2019 (including 8 months as our Acting Chair) but recently stepped down to become a candidate for New Zealand First (the Taxpayers’ Union is, of course, non-partisan and not affiliated to any party).
Jordan asked Casey to join the podcast to discuss her work fighting for her political passions: accountability in government, and equality of civil rights. They also cover what drives Casey, and why she chose NZ First over ACT or National. You can listen to Casey’s exit interview here.
Thank you for your support.
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