Tax cuts policy still elusive

HAMISH RUTHERFORD
Last updated 21:11 26/08/2014
Finance debate in Queenstown

MONEY MEN: From left, Finance Minister Bill English, Conservative leader Colin Craig and Labour's David Parker were some of the attendees at the debate.

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National continues to dance around whether it will promise tax cuts in the coming weeks.

During a debate for finance spokesmen in Queenstown last night, Finance Minister Bill English said the Government was looking at ‘‘moderate tax cuts for low and middle income earners’’ but there might not be much to go around.

‘‘If people are expecting some kind of package that says you’ll get 20 bucks a week, we’re not going to be announcing anything like that before the election.’’

Earlier this month English effectively ruled out discussing tax cuts before the election, as Treasury announced a pre-election economic update, which saw forecasts for surpluses fall.

Since then Prime Minister John Key has maintained they are actively being considered, although English said calculations had not been done.

English last night refused to stick up for the actions of National Party staff, alleged to have searched the Labour Party website for donation information, as detailed in Nicky Hager’s book dirty politics.

‘‘No, I don’t condone it, but all this has come out on the basis of stolen emails,’’ he said.

About 500 people crammed into the Queenstown Memorial Hall to hear English and finance leaders for Labour, Green, ACT and the Conservatives discuss the economy.

Labour’s David Parker said English had been a responsible steward of the economy, but had failed to address key issues, such as the age of retirement and the bias towards investment in property.

It was irresponsible of the Government not to address the growing cost of superannuation, estimated to climb by more than $600 million a year between 2012 and 2017, Parker said.

English said he was ‘‘not particularly’’ worried about the cost of superannuation, but refused to say whether he would have looked at changing the age if Key had not explicitly promised not to change it.

Green Party co-leader Russel Norman attacked the Government’s secrecy around the negotiations for the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership deal, which he said was designed to limit government powers.

Other governments were told New Zealand’s position ‘‘but you don’t, they won’t tell you. And the reason is if you find out what they’re proposing to give away, you’re going to hate it because it undermines our democracy.’’

ACT leader Jamie Whyte attacked the plans of Labour and the Greens to try to direct investment, saying if politicians were financial experts they would be working in the sector.

‘‘If you’re so smart, why aren’t you running a $2 billion hedge fund in New York?’’


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