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Give Consumers And Taxpayers A Break

Weekly Column By Dr Muriel Newman MP

The relative position of New Zealand consumers and taxpayers has deteriorated over the years - and the backward slide has increased markedly under the Labour-Alliance Government.

Consumers - of which virtually every New Zealander is one - gain the most protection from a properly functioning free market. When suppliers of goods and services are forced to respond to the demands of consumers, the end result is better prices and services. In free markets, the needs of consumers assume the highest priority.

The moves by the government to support monopoly provision through nationalising ACC and Air New Zealand, spending $80 million getting back into banking, opposing tariff reductions and increasing regulations - constraining not only the free market, but freedom and liberty, all serve to undermine the paramountcy of consumers.

In fact, the double jeopardy of political correctness and the government's regulatory bonanza, much of it in the name of health, safety and other high ideals, effectively put a noose around the neck of every New Zealand consumer.

Taxpayers are the group of New Zealanders who pay their way. They not only provide for their families, but provide for the government as well. As the funders of the government's agenda, taxpayers should be treated with the respect that they rightly deserve. They should not be treated as cash cows - exploited in order to fulfil political agendas. They are real people with real dreams and goals and a value set which has at its heart, the work ethic.

They want to see the money they have earned, but then forcibly taken off them by the ruling political parties, used to lift the standard of living of every New Zealander. They recognise that a government's managing of the economy is largely responsible for national performance; with that in mind they see prosperity for all as a key goal for a government.

However, if we take an objective look at how taxpayers' money is currently being spent by this government, we find it is clearly being used to fund a political agenda to capture interest group votes: Maori, Pacific Islanders, welfare beneficiaries, superannuitants, students, arts supporters. Altogether, around 1 million voters out of the 2.4 million who are registered to vote have been given special privileges by the government.

However, the group that has been taken very much for granted by the government is working New Zealanders - the very taxpayers they rely on to fund their agenda of bribes.

The clearest indication that the government cares little about the plight of low income working families was its refusal to give 48,000 working people a Community Service Card. The benefit increases last year took the incomes of a number of beneficiaries and superannuitants over the threshold for the card. Rather than treat everyone equally and either take the card away from those people whose incomes had increased too much, or raise the threshold and give the card to the 48,000 who would now have qualified, the government chose to protect the entitlement to the card for the few while denying it to the many. The cost would have been $14 million, a paltry sum compared to, say, the $50 million being spent on Maori TV.

Taxpayers feel bogged down by their tax burden. Their wages are not rising at a rate that matches their desire for a better life. Part of the problem is that New Zealand is one of the highest taxed nations in the world, and certainly the only western nation to raise taxes in recent history. By going against the tide of known convention on how to lift the performance of a nation - through lower taxes and less regulation - the government is effectively condemning us to third world status. Further, with its agenda of applying 'sneaky' taxes, it hopes that the growing resentment against high taxes will not gather momentum.

The reality is that high taxes are hurting working people. Tax rates need to be lowered to increase their take-home pay. By keeping more of what they earn, families could spend more money on their own priorities rather than those of a vote-chasing government. This is particularly important for couples with children, who are major net contributors to government finances even at low earnings levels, while still having to cope with the significant costs associated with raising a family.

It has been calculated that the multiplier effect of a dollar of spending effectively creates four dollars of wealth. That is money that would be more effectively used in local communities, creating jobs for children and alternative job choices for adults, rather than being sent to Wellington to fund political agendas - especially when the deadweight cost of taxation wastes much of the money collected.

As we look towards the election, political parties should be asked to spell out what they intend to do for consumers and taxpayers ... ACT New Zealand, founded in 1994 as the Association of Consumers and Taxpayers, a lobby group standing up for the rights of consumers and taxpayers, has the history, the commitment and the ideas in this area!

Dr Muriel Newman, MP for ACT New Zealand, writes a weekly opinion piece on topical issues for a number of community newspapers. You are welcome to forward this column to anyone you think may be interested.

View the archive of columns at http://www.act.org.nz/action/murielnewman.html

Visit ACT New Zealand's web site: http://www.act.org.nz

If you no longer wish to remain on our mailing list please advise by return email.

Muriel appreciates the opportunity to keep you informed and thanks you for your continued interest in ACT New Zealand.

If you are interested in the Shared Parenting Campaign you may like to visit the website http://www.xoasis.com/~sharedparents/

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