Gst petitioners seek referendum

01:43, Jan 31 2009

A referendum on the removal of goods and services tax from food is sought by a group that has delivered a 23,000-signature petition to Parliament.

"Everywhere we've gone people said this is a really good idea. Let's keep the taxman out of the trolley and out of school lunches ... it's common sense," said Grant Morgan, chairman of the Auckland-based Residents Action Movement, who handed the petition to Maori Party MP Hone Harawira yesterday.

The petition was started several months ago and ended with a People's Procession to Parliament down the length of the North Island.

Mr Morgan said there were enough signatures to give an indication of what people felt, but even with three times that number he doubted it would have moved the two main parties.

There had been a lot of support from Grey Power and the Maori Party. The organisers would be looking to other groups next year to help raise the 300,000 signatures required to force a referendum.

Mr Harawira said his was the only party that backed the idea. There were 230,000 children living in poverty and any government that refused to act to reduce that number deserved to lose the election. The Government could make up for revenue lost by taking gst off food by putting it on gambling instead, he said.

A poll in May indicated 73 per cent support for cutting gst on food.

The Government estimates it could lose more than $2 billion in tax revenue if gst were removed from food. Both main parties oppose the idea, saying it would complicate the tax system and savings might not be passed on to consumers.



The Dominion Post