Greens eye bigger supluses

STACEY KIRK
Last updated 11:41 20/08/2014
greens russel norman

RUSSEL NORMAN: The Greens want to build a "smarter, greener economy" for New Zealand.

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Labour will have to have its policy costings independently audited if it wants to talk coalitions with the Greens, co-leader Russel Norman says. 

In releasing the party's policy costings, Norman said they aimed to deliver bigger surpluses than National or Labour, largely by taxing the top 3 per cent of earners more.

"We have produced a fiscally responsible plan that will build a smarter, greener economy that really works for New Zealanders," he said.

"The Green Party will run bigger surpluses than National and Labour, enabling us to pay down debt faster while increasing spending in pressing priority areas."

The Greens said at their campaign launch last weekend that they would introduce a top tax rate of 40 per cent for earnings over $140,000.

They would also introduce a capital gains tax and raise the tax rate on trusts.

Norman said the party would run surpluses $2.2 billion larger than National by 2017-18.

Debt would be $6.6b lower than under National in the same period.

The costings included the already-announced $3.4b package to reduce child poverty and inequality.

The party is promising modest tax cuts to "97 per cent of all New Zealand taxpayers" by making the first $2000 tax-free.

Norman said the costings included $2b of initiatives over three years to be announced during the election campaign.

The costings were independently assessed by economic consultancy firm Infometrics.

Norman said Labour would have to do the same before potential coalition negotiations could begin. 

"They'll come to the table with what they want, and we'll come to the table with what we want and then the proportion of votes between the two of us will determine the outcome. 

"The problem with Labour's [figures] is they haven't been independently audited so we'd want to get an independent audit done of Labour's policies before we sat down."

Norman said his figures were in line with those released by Treasury yesterday, at the last economic update before the election.

Labour has already released its "alternative budget", based on figures released by Treasury at the budget in May.

Today, Labour's finance spokesman David Parker said the party may have to scale back some of its promises after yesterday's Treasury forecasts for the economy were lower than expected.

"Because, remember, our spending is effectively funded through the revenue we garner from a capital gains tax excluding the family home, plus increasing the marginal tax rate on incomes over $150,000," Parker told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report.

But Labour would have to "live within our means" to run a surplus, Parker said.

"We have said we are committed to running surpluses as we did nine times in a row when we were last in government."

Some of Labour's policies would be introduced more slowly as their draft alternative budget was updated to accommodate the Prefu, Parker said.

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