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Setting The Record Straight On Health

4 July 2002

“Labour has made no commitment to introduce a dedicated health tax. We have committed ourselves only to exploring the feasibility of the idea,” Revenue Minister Michael Cullen said today.

Dr Cullen was responding to suggestions from National’s revenue spokeswoman and precariously-placed list MP, Annabel Young, and from Act that a health tax could increase taxes by 8 per cent.

“Even if we did decide to proceed, we have not discussed a specific rate. And in any case, the rate is irrelevant because the health tax would replace an equivalent amount of existing income tax. It would not be imposed as new taxation,” Dr Cullen said.

He also categorically ruled out any intention to bring back death duties. “Annabel knows perfectly well that this is not on our agenda. To suggest it is is shround-waving of the worst sort.”

Dr Cullen also denied that there was any pressure to increase petrol taxes, saying all the roading projects identified for construction by Transfund last week could be financed from the 4.7 percent increase introduced in March.

“In fact, the $1.1 billion national transport programme represents the largest capital injection into the land transport infrastructure in decades.

“All priority projects as classified by Transit and local authorities are proceeding.”

He said Annabel Young’s silly attempts at scare-mongering just showed how desperate National was.

“They’re at sixes and sevens, can’t hold to a single position on any issue, can’t get their lines straight and can’t get their facts right. It’s pathetic,” Dr Cullen said.


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