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Harawira: Against an Increase in GST

MEDIA RELEASE

Against an Increase in GST

Hone Harawira

Wed 19 May 2010

“Speaking out against an increase in GST isn’t hard for me,” says Hone Harawira, the Maori Party MP for Tai Tokerau, “because the people who are going to be hurt the most by it are the people I grew up with, the people I live with, and the people I represent.”

Harawira said he wanted to break his silence on the issue of National’s proposal to raise GST in the Budget to be announced later today because he didn’t want to be squeezed into supporting something he didn’t believe in.

“GST hits poor people the hardest because nearly all of their money is spent on things that you pay GST on – food, petrol, electricity – so any increase is going to really hurt them.”

Harawira said that although the Maori Party coalition agreement requires them to vote for the Budget, he was having difficulty supporting a tax increase that made things easier for the wealthy at the expense of those in need.

My caucus colleagues don’t like the GST increase either,” said Harawira, “but they argue that we’ve done too much to jeopardise what we’ve achieved so far, and what our people want us to achieve in the years ahead.

“And we’ve had some great successes. Two Ministers after only three years in Parliament, a review of the hated Foreshore and Seabed Act and repeal just round the corner, recognition of the Maori flag, rolling out the Whanau Ora package, an inquiry into the tobacco industry, an increase in tobacco tax, support for the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People and a constitutional review being undertaken very shortly”.

“But if you were to ask the simple question about whether the Maori Party would support an increase in GST, the answer would have to be a loud NO.

Since entering the house in 2005, Maori Party MPs have given many speeches in defence of low-income families, opposed tax increases, supported the GST Off Food petition, and even brought Rahui Katene’s GST Off Food bill into the house.

“And now government’s expecting us to support an increase in GST?

“If there’s one thing I learnt from Tariana’s stand against the Foreshore and Seabed bill it’s that we must always speak out on issues that affect our people. This is clearly one of those issues.

Maori people have backed us in good times and bad, they stood alongside us even when they didn’t really understand what we were doing, they voted for us because they believed in us, and they will be struggling to put the picture of the Maori Party they voted for, together with the picture of their MPs voting for an increase in GST.

Tari and Pete fought hard on this issue, and I’m not baggin’ them for what’s happened. This was National’s decision. But we owe it to our people to speak out against this GST increase. We owe it to them to fight for a better deal in all aspects of government. And we owe it to ourselves to be strong in the decisions that we have to make.

ENDS

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