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Raising earthquake revenue must be on Key’s agenda

March 2, 2011

Raising earthquake revenue must be on Key’s agenda

The Government has a unique chance for national and political consensus around an earthquake levy, rather than risk a politicised argument about possible spending and benefit cuts, Green Party Co-Leader Dr Russel Norman said today.

Dr Norman was responding to the Government’s recent signal that Working for Family recipients and students with loans could be called upon to help meet the cost of the Christchurch earthquakes.

“While there is likely to be significant debate over Government spending cuts, it seems there is anecdotal evidence of wide public support for a targeted, time-limited earthquake levy,” said Dr Norman.

A recent Herald online poll on the issue suggested New Zealanders were open to the idea, with 69 per cent saying they would support such a levy and 31 per cent saying they would not.

“Australia has raised a levy after their flood disaster and their Government is, financially speaking, in a much better position than ours,” said Dr Norman.

“The Green Party supports a fair and equitable approach to paying for the rebuilding of Christchurch.

“This means sharing the costs across those who can most afford to pay. A levy is the fairest way to pay for the earthquake and we believe serious investigation of this option should be undertaken.”

The Green Party asked the Parliamentary Library to model a number of different levy scenarios for income earners above $48,000. A meaningful amount can be raised in a short time to aid with the reconstruction of essential, uninsured infrastructure. The levy can be structured to include contributions from corporations and/or exclude taxpayers in the Christchurch region.

“A small temporary earthquake levy will have much greater popular support than a politicised argument about spending cuts,” said Dr Norman.

“Welfare cuts of the size needed to pay for the likely damage will need to be significant and affect some of the most vulnerable.

“Revenue raising has to be on the agenda.

“The fastest, fairest, and economically prudent way for New Zealand to rebuild the livelihoods of those in Christchurch is to introduce an earthquake levy on those who can most afford it,” Dr Norman said.

The Green Party has written to the Prime Minister offering their constructive support for a levy and other related matters.

ENDS


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