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Poll shows NZ supports levy for Christchurch - Greens

Poll shows NZ supports levy for Christchurch

A new poll shows strong support for a temporary levy to pay for Christchurch earthquake recovery, the Green Party announced today.

A nationwide phone survey has revealed resounding support for a levy on income greater than $48,000 and a preference for the temporary levy ahead of deep spending cuts and/or more borrowing.

"New Zealanders clearly want to do the right thing and we know a temporary levy is smart economics, so the Government's refusal to consider it looks more and more foolish," said Green Party Co-leader Russel Norman.

"John Key has shown in the past he's willing to listen New Zealand, hopefully this poll, on top of the advice of several economic commentators, will shift his thinking."

The poll conducted by UMR Research showed total support for the temporary levy proposal at 57%. New Zealanders also preferred a levy (40%) to big Government cuts (29%) and to more borrowing (22%).

"New Zealanders have a great deal of compassion for Canterbury. They've been incredibly generous in giving to charities and they understand that we have an enormous bill to pay through central Government. They're prepared to shoulder a temporary tax even at a time when household budgets are tight," Dr Norman said.

"They also understand the economics and support a fiscally responsible approach. Kiwis get that more debt is very bad for the country and deep spending cuts will be catastrophic."

The Green Party estimates that a levy of 1.5% applied to income between $48,001 and $70000 and 3.0% on income above $70,000, while leaving the corporate tax rate unchanged at 30%, would raise $1.026 billion per annum. People earning $50,000 a year would pay an additional 58 cents per week. People earning $70,000 per year would pay an additional $6.33 per week. People on $100,000 would pay an additional $23.59 per week

The Government has put the costs of rebuilding in Christchurch at approximately $5 billion, but has ruled out a temporary levy in favour of deep spending cuts and more borrowing.

"Borrowing carries a big risk of a credit rating downgrade, which would add significant deadweight costs right across the economy," Dr Norman noted.

"The other part of the Government's approach is to cut public sector spending at a time of weak economic activity, which carries the risk of sending the economy back into recession.

"A temporary levy avoids these risks, as it spreads the cost of rebuilding Christchurch fairly throughout the economy," said Dr Norman.

Increased Government borrowing would also cost taxpayers over $250 million a year in additional interest costs, according to Green Party estimates.

The new poll, conducted March 24-27, surveyed a nationally representative sample of 750 New Zealanders over the age of 18.

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