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Labour does U-turn on border control

John Key MP - National Party Finance Spokesman

15 December 2004

Labour does U-turn on border control

"Labour's proved once again it can't be trusted to deliver on its promises, after today's U-turn on the issue of border control," says National Party Finance spokesman John Key.

"In principle, National supports some user pays recovery at the borders given the extra costs of security in the uncertain world environment, although we have yet to see the calculations used for setting the new tax.

"National does not take issue with the concept, but we strongly object to Labour's back-flip on this, after Helen Clark hounded the previous Government over a $30 million border cost recovery programme.

"In July 1999, Helen Clark was adamant that her Government would not start taxing tourists. In a speech to the Aviation Industry Association Golden Jubilee Conference, Helen Clark clearly laid out her position," says Mr Key.

'A vexed issue for the air and sea transport industries has been the government's decision to recover the costs of border control which it has traditionally met ... We find the government's stated reasons for its policy bizarre. They say travellers into New Zealand create risks to this country and that, therefore, ports and airports, airline passengers and others in the travel industry should pay the costs.

That is an extraordinarily narrow view ... The $30 million of cost at the borders is vastly outweighed by the more than $4 billion of foreign exchange earnings from tourism. Let's keep this issue of risk in some perspective! I can tell you that Labour in government will most certainly not be proceeding with the proposed cost recovery regime. We will continue to fund those border control activities which the state presently funds. They are core responsibilities of the state.'

And in a speech to the Tourism Industry Association Conference that same month...

'A coalition of tourism industry interests was instrumental in forcing the government to postpone its plans to introduce the user pays regime for border control services which was announced in the Budget last year. I can announce today that that regime will not be established by the incoming Labour government. We will continue to fund those border control activities which the state presently funds. Funding such core responsibilities has a far higher priority for us than the meaningless dribs and drabs of tax cuts announced by our opponents.'

"Labour says one thing in Opposition and does quite another in Government. Today's U-turn is more evidence that Helen Clark can't be trusted to deliver on her promises," says Mr Key


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