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He’s done it again – flip flop flap

10 December 2004

He’s done it again – flip flop flap

“It’s the Brash sequence again – flip-flop-flap,” Finance Minister Michael Cullen said today.

“Dr Brash can’t seem to help himself. National slumps in the polls, he gets into a flap, he does yet another flip flop. It is like watching a grotesque soap opera.”

Dr Cullen was commenting on Don Brash’s much hyped tax policy statement – “his fourth to date and all different.

“First he was going to cut taxes to companies and top income earners immediately. Then it was over time. Then he decided the cuts should be targeted to low to middle income families. Now, as he has become more desperate, he is promising a tax cut for every New Zealander in his first budget.

“And it is not over yet. The release on Tuesday of the December Economic and Fiscal Update will show that tax cuts of that magnitude are not affordable over the longer term – not without savage spending cuts or spiraling public debt,” Dr Cullen said.

“Today’s effort brings to five his recent flip flops on major issues.

“The nuclear free ban was – famously – to be “gone by lunchtime.” Now National is committed to retaining it.

“Dr Brash was proud to vote with his principles and for the Civil Union Bill at the first reading. Then he lost his nerve and voted against it.

“He was opposed to the New Zealand Super Fund as “a serious mistake,” and “nothing more than financial smoke and mirrors.” Now he is in the process of formally signing up to the legislation.

“When the law introducing four weeks leave was passed, he committed National to repealing it saying it represented a “massive cost to New Zealand employers and workers.” Now he is saying they will keep it.

“Where will he jump next? Who can tell? Does the National caucus even know? Does he?”

Previous Brash statements on tax are:

July 2002: National [will] reduce the company tax rate to 30 per cent, and the top personal rate to 35 per cent, from 1 April 2003… by April 2006, the top personal rate will be 32 per cent and the company rate will be 27 per cent. We have also set a medium-term target of 25 per cent for both.

April 2003: National would reduce the top personal rate to the 33c level of the company rate and, over time, both rates should be reduced to 30 per cent. The biggest winners would be the rich, but that would be fair because they pay the lion's share of tax.

March 2004: Speaking to the Institute of Directors: National's top priorities for tax reductions are tax relief for low-to-middle income families, and a cut in corporate tax rates to boost business investment. I know that many of you will be disappointed that I am not signalling a commitment to a substantial reduction in the top rate immediately. I know too that purists will highlight the undesirability of such a large gap between the top personal tax rate and the 30 per cent corporate tax rate which I have proposed. Clearly, we want to give ourselves, as a government, room to provide relief for the very large numbers of people in the middle-income brackets.


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