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Free Press

ACT’s regular bulletin

Does Government Waste Taxpayers’ Money?
In the lead-up to the Budget, David Seymour asked Bill English why his government gives taxpayer money to fund Jane Kelsey’s research, programs such as X-Factor season two, and the Ultimate Waterman Stand Up Paddle Boarding contest. David’s Sunday Star Times column lists more government waste. It is easy to find once you start looking.

Jacinda Jumps the Shark
The normally sanguine Jacinda Ardern has gone off the reservation in her reply to David this week (printed in the paper but not online). Among other things she says she doesn’t care if she’s misrepresented ACT. Most politicians at least keep up the pretence of being honest. What’s up Jacinda?

Partnership Schools are Go
The Budget contained an announcement that seven more Partnership Schools will be funded, with at least seven to open in 2018 and 2019, in addition to those set to open in 2017. The policy has serious positive momentum. Partnership Schools are changing kids’ lives for the better.

E Tipu E Rea
Sir Apirana Ngata understood the value of education and his quote, which translates to ‘grow strong little shoot,’ is the name of a new non-government entity to support Partnership Schools. E Tipu E Rea has a board of outstanding New Zealanders and will bolster the emerging sector. Their website:

Stable Centre-Right Government
The Government delivered a modest Budget, as you’d expect. After all, Finance Minister Bill English is a combination of Southland farmer (according to his PR image) and a Treasury official (where his career actually started). New spending in this Budget is “only” one billion dollars.

World-Leading Fiscal Management
In their eighth Budget Labour were reliant on Winston Peters to govern and, relatedly, had the cheque book out with $4.3 billion in new spending. The giant sucking sound from Wellington crashed the tradable sector leading to the first sustained trade deficit since 1988, pushed mortgage rates over eleven per cent, and New Zealand led the world as the only country to enter recession before the Global Financial Crisis.

Keeping Them Over There
The opposition have not learned. Before the Budget Labour’s finance spokesman Grant Robertson threatened a top tax rate of 45 per cent to cover $2.7 billion in new spending. For now, it is essential to keep Labour, NZ First and the Greens over on the opposition benches where they belong.

The opposition is menacing, but under MMP they are within two seats of Government. As a result New Zealand politics is a bit like an America’s Cup race. If Labour tack to port (left) the National party crew will loyally get on the grinders and tack across to cover them. If only they were a bit more imaginative.

Advanced Auction
H.L. Mencken said elections are an advance auction in stolen goods, and National is getting ready for a big one. By delaying tax cuts until election year, National are saying you must vote for them to get your money back. ACT says it was never the Government’s money to start with.

Good Politics?
One view is that National is simply ensuring voters know who has their best interests at heart in election year, but they have scored an own goal. The opposition will have the cheque book out to try and buy those last two seats they need, and National have left them enough fiscal headroom to promise spending without tax increases.

Good Principles
Good principles don’t always make good politics (how else has Winston Peters lasted so long?) but here they would have. If the Nats had followed ACT’s advice and cut taxes as soon as possible, we would not be shaping up for a vote buying extravaganza next year.

What Would ACT Have Done?
Presently the top 33 per cent income tax rate begins at $70,000, and soon nearly half of taxpayers will be in the top tax bracket. ACT would have cut the middle 30 per cent tax rate to 25 per cent and made it extend up to $100,000. This would have reduced revenue by approximately $1.5 billion, which ACT would pay for by eliminating existing and planned corporate welfare.

A Black Mark
The policy of raising tobacco taxes by ten per cent a year has not worked. Fifteen per cent of New Zealanders still smoke (down from 16.3 per cent five years ago) but they now pay twice as much tax. What does the Government do? More of the same.

Taxing the Poor
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result, but the Budget announced another four years of increases. The average smoker (half a pack a day) will go from an excise tax bill of $2,600 per year to $3,800. For the poor, this increase will cancel out anything the Government has done for them in this Budget.

A Politically Inadvisable Policy
Taxing fags hard will push working class voters away from National, but in which direction? Free Press hopes to ACT, but inevitably some will turn to Winston Peters, who is a natural smokers’ advocate. If Winston holds the balance of power by a few thousand votes next year, National’s political strategists should feel very silly.

A More Imaginative Approach
Legalising electronic cigarettes without any excise tax would have effectively given a $2,600 tax cut to any smoker who switched to them. Not to mention it would be much healthier to breathe vapour than smoke tar.

On Behalf of Millenials and other Young Folks
We would still like to have a discussion about Superannuation. We know that we’re not going to get National Super at age 65 when there will be far fewer workers compared to the number of retirees. We know there’ll have to be some adjustment and the sooner we start the easier it will be because we’ll be able to plan for it. Refusing to have the discussion is a dick move.

On Balance
A good budget that could do with a bit more ACT. If you agree, you can help up by joining, volunteering, or donating (or all three).


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