Five more taxes

September 3, 2014

Three years ago John Key asked then-Labour leader Phil Goff to show him the money and he couldn’t.

Last night the Prime Minister asked Labour’s current leader David Cunliffe if people who’s home is in a trust would have to pay a capital gains tax and he wouldn’t answer.

If it would it would hit more than 200,000 families.

There is no tax advantage for having a home in a trust but people use trusts for other reasons.

Even if homes in trusts wouldn’t be hit, farms and businesses would be. That would impose extra costs and reduce profitability.

The PM asked Cunliffe if New Zealand already has a CTG, he said no.

The PM responded that he knows the tax code and we do.

He also pointed out that a Labour/Green government would add five more taxes.

That’s a big point of difference.

National will continue to manage public spending well and let people keep more of their own money; Labour and the Green Party would tax more so they can spend more.

 

We're with John. #teamkey #keyvcunliffe


Press leaders’ debate

September 2, 2014

The Press leaders’ debate will be live streamed here from 7pm tonight.

It's #KeyvCunliffe. Tonight. 7pm. Live streaming at stuff.co.nz

Editorial approval for Budget

May 16, 2014

From south to north:

The Southland Times writes of felines and finances:

As the budget debate was winding down in Parliament yesterday the most popular story on the Stuff website was still “Cat saves boy from dog”.

Bill English will hardly be distraught. He knows this is not an election-losing Budget.

It’s the first since 2008 to project a surplus. Technically, it is perfectly possible for a Government to be rolled in an election year while economic figures are doing OK. Jenny Shipley managed it while running budget surpluses and with economic growth knocking around 3.5 to 4 per cent.

But the public had emphatically soured on the politics of her administration whereas the Key Government, for all that it has had a wretched couple of weeks, would still need to subside spectacularly to find itself in such straits.

English has found himself in the fairly happy situation of not needing a budget that would quicken any pulses . . . merely keep them steady. This one will surely manage that.  . .

Australia has done English the very considerate favour of delivering a gasper of a hard-times Budget just days before his. So if it was a test, we’d be the winners, right? And who doesn’t like beating the Aussies? Big tick for the Nats, then?

Truth to tell those contrasting fortunes are indeed likely to accelerate the net immigration inflow of more than 38,000 this year. That’s assuming people have been paying attention, what with that fabulous cat footage.

 

The ODT calls it a clever document:

This was the Budget that National – right from the time of its re-election in 2011 – would have hoped it could produce leading into this year’s election.

Mr English has not swayed from his path of fiscal restraint. Sure, he has had to borrow heavily during the past six years, but not to the extent the country plunged into recession.

Now, the return to surplus gives options such as paying down debt.

The careful management of the country’s finances by Mr English, and his team of ministers, has helped ensure New Zealand has been mainly immune from the worst of the global decline affecting Europe, parts of Asia, the United States and, latterly, Australia.

Economic growth has been one of the highest in the OECD and, for once, all Treasury indicators are pointing in a positive direction.

This was a Budget of few surprises, but with enough good news to count for something. . .

It will enable Prime Minister John Key to go into the election campaign confident his 2008 promises of fiscal restraint, providing the best care for families, and delivering a better public service have not been compromised.

Opposition parties will have to promise big to counter National, and if they do, the onus will be on them to say exactly how they will fund those promises. . .

If he is looking for a document to define his legacy as Finance Minister, Budget 2014 is a good place to start.

There is some criticism the Budget is too conservative, but that personifies Mr English, who learnt the trade from former finance minister Sir William Birch. And would most New Zealanders rather have a gambler as a finance minister, or a safe pair of hands?

The ”Boy from Dipton” has lived up to his reputation as a ”conservative” politician in every way.

The Timaru Herald opines on the Budget highlight:

The contrast was telling, helped by the fact Australia’s Budget and ours came just two days apart.

Theirs: there will be pain for everyone.

Ours: we’re operating with a surplus and tax cuts may even be on the way.

But hey, we’re heading into an election, so there’s bound to be some gloss. They aren’t.

The National Government has worked long and hard on being able to say it is spending less than it is collecting, and right on cue it has achieved that.

Selling off a few state assets and spending most of the proceeds has helped, of course, and as Labour’s David Cunliffe rightly points out, National has borrowed a massive $56 billion in its tenure, which costs $10 million a day in interest.

He says that’s a lot of money that could be spent on lifting kids out of poverty, which indeed it is.

But because National is the Government it sets the agenda, and the agenda yesterday was for enough lollies to keep sugar levels up without creating a free-for-all. . .

It’s a steady Budget without attempting to buy votes.

The best thing about it?

It’s not Australia’s.

 

 

The Press writes of seeking the recipe for growth:

When he delivered his first Budget six years ago, Finance Minister Bill English faced a grim prospect. Even though the global financial crisis had not yet hit, the economy had gone into recession some time beforehand.

Government debt was at a reasonable level, but spending in Labour’s last years in office had ballooned and, according to Treasury projections, the Government faced deficits for a decade or more ahead.

National had been elected promising responsible Government finances and a stronger economy, but without changes those looked unlikely.

English smiled yesterday as he took delivery of the bound Budget document and well he might. By delivering a surplus, albeit a tiny one, several years ahead of what he had forecast several years ago, today’s Budget will be brighter than even he expected it to be by now.

Since it came to office six years ago, the Government’s core promises have been that it would deliver a stronger economy, responsible public finances and a better public service.

In 2011, after the earthquakes, it added a promise to rebuild Christchurch. Those pledges have become a mantra and can be expected to be repeated today.

Without engaging in a wholesale slash and burn, it has kept public spending under control while maintaining services.

So far as it is possible for a government to claim credit for the performance of the economy generally, National can be pleased with the prospect of growth possibly hitting more than 4 per cent this year. The trick will be to make that growth enduring. . .

In spite of the benign aggregate position it should not be forgotten that, as an Otago University survey reiterated last week, New Zealand still has significant pockets of deprivation.

There are likely to be numberless reasons for them but a growing economy delivering opportunity and jobs offers part of the solution for sustainably dealing with them.

The Marlborough Express writes the jobs challenge continues:

. . . Finance Minister Bill English told Parliament the realisation of job growth forecasts depends on the confidence of businesses to invest more capital and employ more people.

“That is where new jobs come from. They do not come from the Easter bunny.”

The Easter bunny didn’t get a mention when English unveiled his sixth Budget yesterday.

The test will be how much his programme can lift confidence and stimulate growth to create the environment that will put priority on employment growth.

The Dominion Post notes the crowd goes mild:

This is a deliberately bland and even boring Budget. The Government has clearly decided that grey and safe is its best hope in election year. The only surprise was free doctors’ visits for under-13-year-olds. Middle New Zealand will welcome it, as it will many of the other, carefully telegraphed, handouts. More paid parental leave: who could object? A bit more help with childcare costs: why not?

National has made a virtue of small gifts: it shows that the party is “responsible” and not spending money it doesn’t have. And that is why the $372m surplus is intended to have such political heft. The amount is piffling within a $70b budget, and would make no economic difference if it was an equally mouse-sized deficit.

But the surplus is the signal that a caring government has brought us home safely after a nasty trip through recession. And if we carry on being careful and good, the Government says, life will carry on improving. Finance Minister Bill English gave a hint of tax cuts to come, but waffled when pressed. So that means National is keeping its tax promises till closer to the election.

The real question is: is this all the voters want – thrift, mild rewards, steady-as-she-goes? The dissenters have pointed to National’s noticeable lack of flair and imagination. No big new policies, no bold new directions, no surprises.

But that is what the John Key Government is, and so far it has won elections. In tough times, the Government has spent freely to keep the ship afloat, and then it has slowly brought it to the fiscal shore. Now it welcomes us to dry land. . .

Much bolder moves will be needed, including a capital gains tax. But National’s caution here is a drawback, not an advantage. Sometimes problems are serious and need action. National seems to believe it will be enough to cut red tape and remove some of the planning obstacles in the way of housing. It won’t.

At present there is little rage about poverty, inequality and the housing crisis. These problems are raw and real but voters are patient and only a minority of voters now seem to actually hate National. It will probably take another term before a majority is truly fed up with Key and his band. In the meantime, this bland document may be a document for the times.

The Manawatu Standards call it a Budget comfortable fit for many Kiwis

There may be little bling to Finance Minister Bill English’s sixth Budget but, like a pair of sensible shoes, it will make for a comfortable fit for many New Zealanders.

It was a budget light on ambition, heavy on prudence, in its commitment towards a modest $372 million surplus, but with a few policies bearing a distinctive Labour hue to them.

Its “steady as she goes” tenor does shrewdly mine the Kiwi ethos. Yes, a tax cut would have been nice, but they’ve balanced the books and haven’t forgotten the children. So she’ll be right.

It is a budget good enough to serve its purpose, whether that is pragmatic progress towards further surpluses and the lure of an eventual tax cut or simply placating middle New Zealand until after the general election in September is a matter of perspective. . .

The NZ Herald says the Budget steers safe course in rough waters:

The Treasury gave the show away in the Budget’s supporting documents, mentioning that while tax revenue is running at a lower level than expected, some of the Government’s intended spending has been “rephased” to produce the surplus it has promised.

Opponents can call it a trick of “smoke and mirrors” but the verdict that matters comes from credit agencies. They are unlikely to be concerned. Spending rephased is spending we might never see unless surpluses can be maintained. . . .

The Budget’s best feature is the value Bill English seems to be getting for little extra spending on public services. Departments know the results he wants and seem to be delivering them without complaint from providers or the public.

They have stopped demanding endless increases in funds and he shared the credit with them yesterday for his surplus.

Doctored it may be, but it will get better.

The Herald’s last point is a pertinent one and one of the National governments successes – getting better pubic services for less money.

 


Not all schools want free food

May 5, 2013

Hone Harawira’s Bill proposing to provide food for all decile one and two schools will be debated in parliament soon.

It is a blunt instrument which will do nothing for hungry children in higher decile schools and provide food where it’s not needed and not wanted.

A school principal in Whangarei says a proposed law change aimed at providing meals for students in poorer schools could reinforce negative stereotypes. . .

Hora hora Primary principal Pat Newman said that may send a message that all parents with children at poorer schools don’t feed them properly.

He said it does not cost his school a lot to step in when it needs to, discretely offering breakfast and sandwiches to individual students in need. . .

The Press points out other problems with the proposal:

One difficulty is the sheer logistics of the proposal. Most schools are neither set up nor staffed to provide meals to pupils. One figure much bandied about during recent debate has suggested that 80,000 children go to school each morning without having had breakfast.

While that number has a whiff of the Ministry of Made-Up Numbers about it, even confined to decile 1 and 2 schools, Harawira’s proposal would be a large and time- consuming effort to get breakfast and lunch to all those deemed to need them.

But the main difficulty with Harawira’s idea is that it tackles the issue from the wrong end. Hungry children in school are a just symptom of a root cause – inadequate, negligent parenting and decision-making.

For the state to take over providing something as fundamental as proper meals will, if anything, only aggravate that root cause.

The more dud parents become aware that their children will be fed if they fail to do so, the more they will be inclined to abdicate the responsibility.

Providing a decent breakfast and lunch for a child is hardly an onerous or expensive task. Eggs on toast or cereal for breakfast, and sandwiches with a nourishing filling for lunch, are within the capacity of every parent. . .

It’s not the fault of hungry children that their parents don’t feed them and it is a problem which needs to be addressed.

But providing food for all low decile schools isn’t the best way to do it.

Fonterra is providing free milk for all schools that want it – some high decile schools choose to have it, some low ones don’t.

This targeted and voluntary approach, in conjunction with charities like Kids Can which provides food,  doesn’t address the problem of hopeless parents.

But at least it doesn’t waste food on schools which don’t need it, and gives it do children who do.


In praise of capitalism

December 4, 2011

Letter of the week in The Press:

Remember every time you enjoy a latte … you are lucky to have the benefits of capitalism,” writes The Press’s letter writer of the week.

In answer to Gareth Morgan and Susan Guthrie (“Reviving the values of an egalitarian society,” Perspective, Nov 21), I’m for business, technology and the highest wages I can generate . . .

The countries that have experienced the flow-down from the Industrial Revolution are immeasurably better off than those that haven’t. . .

Please don’t tell me that you won’t permit me to have my washing machine, my automobile, my iPhone or the wages I earn.

You can live in any way you choose (I will not interfere) and spend your money the way you choose on the priorities you value.

Remember, every time you enjoy a latte or an organic salad, you are lucky to have the benefits of capitalism at your beck and call, and it not only saves and extends your life, but enhances your life beyond measure.

I’m against your egalitarianism, your environmentalism, and every other anti-man dogma you can invent. You can keep your redistribution of rewards according to your primitive outlook. I’m for laissez-faire! – D. McFarland.

Capitalism isn’t perfect  but no-one has yet come up with a sustainable alternative.


Election editorials

November 28, 2011

The ODT – Three more years:

On any measure, the result of the 2011 general election is a resounding vote of confidence in the leadership and policies of John Key and the National Party. Not since the 1972 Labour victory of Norman Kirk has a single party reached such high levels of support, with National gaining 48% of the vote and 60 MPs in Parliament (pending the outcome of the special votes). The achievement is all the more remarkable given the challenges the country has faced during the past three years . . .

Timaru Herald – No real surpirses:

So now we know. The months of polling are over and we know for sure.

We don’t know everything, because special votes may slightly alter the picture, but we know John Key will be the one to form the Government that will take us through to 2014, when we’ll do it all again. It’s not a surprise, though some elements of the overall picture have been somewhat surprising, particularly the return of Winston Peters to Parliament on the bridge of the good ship NZ First, with a crew of seven supporting him.

For the great survivor of New Zealand politics, it’s a decidedly more comfortable ride than those of John Banks, Peter Dunne and Hone Harawira in their single kayaks. . .

The Press – A mother of a mandate:

As mandates go, they don’t get much bigger. How far will John Key push it?

In a hallmark of the Key style, he will take it as far as he thinks he can while carrying the public with him – but don’t take that as an indication he will go softly on asset sales.

Labour’s brave morning-after talk that it had won the argument on asset sales was nothing more than that – a chin-up exercise aimed squarely at the party faithful after an old-fashioned rout . . .

Dominion Post – Key has the right to sell family silver:

National has won the mandate it sought to pawn the family silver and reshape the welfare system. Prime Minister John Key would be wise to exercise it with discretion.

His party’s 48 per cent share of the vote in Saturday’s election is National’s best result since 1951. It is a personal triumph for the prime minister who has retained the confidence of the public despite having to make provision for the rebuilding of Christchurch in the midst of a global recession . . .

Manawatu Standard – City an atoll of red in an ocean of blue:

The blue tide on Saturday night came from all sides of the compass, but stopped just short of Palmerston North again.

Iain Lees-Galloway, the incumbent Labour member of parliament, somehow managed to not only stop the surge of National support over the country, he increased his majority from 1117 in 2008 to a provisional 3001, with special votes still to be counted.

National won the seat when it came to the party vote, which was probably the prime objective of candidate Leonie Hapeta, who at one stage looked like threatening to turn Palmerston North blue for the first time in decades . . .

Waikato Times – Challenge ahead for Nats:

 In many way it was the most predictable election result in years.

But while his party might have walked off with some 48 per cent of the vote, Prime Minister John Key might well be ruing his actions in the closing weeks, particularly around the now infamous “teapot tapes”. . .

Hawke’s Bay Today – Labour did Nash no favours:

The election delivered just one seismic jolt in Hawke’s Bay but it was one that many had predicted and the casualty, as was the case around New Zealand, was Labour. Actually there were two other casualties in the bailing out of parliament of Labour list MP Stuart Nash and they were the city of Napier and Mr Nash himself . . .  

Gisborne Herlad: Voter’s deliver big tick for John Key’s National Party:

The New Zealand public has given John Key’s National Party a big tick of approval, though not so resounding as to allow it to govern alone — unpopular asset-sale plans made that unlikely.
Mr Key has his mandate for partial privatisation of the state’s power companies and Solid Energy, though, along with radical reform of the welfare system. . .

NZ Herald – Demanding times ahead for National:

So the electorate did not want the National Party to govern alone. Other than that, which signifies its deep resistance to unbridled power, it has handed Prime Minister John Key most of what he wanted – and his opponents on the left nothing much at all.

The election result was encouraging for a party seeking a second term leading the Government. By increasing its share of the vote, and saving enough of Act and United Future to get it over the line, National has its majority. With the Maori Party’s three votes as ballast, it appears more than secure, unless special votes alter the seat allocation to National’s detriment. . .

 

 

 

 

 


A tale of two headlines

July 23, 2011

The Press: Southland lift Ranfurly Shield – last minute drop goal steals shield

Southland Times: Southland’s shield again – late drop-goal gets Stags up


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