Uncap Health Funding

Somewhere, somehow we have become conditioned to the idea of health funding being capped.

We complain often that the healthcare budget is not big enough, but do not ask why it should be capped in the first place. Medical procedures are not something people undergo for fun. Surely everyone who needs medical treatment should get it as soon as possible? Continue reading

Over-balancing the Books

Good news, of sorts; the nation’s books balance, even over-balance. It transpires there is a spare $1.8 billion left in the coffers, according to our Minister of Finance Bill English.

If running our nation were a business, this would be a great success. But it is not a business. Our government’s job is not to make a profit. Our government’s job is to manage our collective wealth in a way that benefits everyone who lives here. Underspending has dire consequences. Continue reading

The Devil is in the Detail of the Family Carers Bill

The disability sector finally thought that the Government would deliver on its promised backdown over paying family carers of adult disabled people. The National-­led Government announced, as part of Budget 2013, $23 million a year to pay family carers of high ­needs disabled adults.

This was initially welcomed by carers, their support networks, and the wider disability community. The announcement followed the Government’s decision not to appeal the Atkinson Case, so­-named after the family carer of a disabled person who first took the Government to the Human Rights Commission nearly 10 years ago over this issue.

From where I sit as a disabled person, Finance Minister Bill English and Health Minister Tony Ryall had seemingly made one of the few more positive announcements from the Budget. However, as the old saying goes, the devil is in the detail. Continue reading

No GST on food – Join us for launch of tax justice campaign!

The nationwide campaign to remove GST from food and tax financial speculation is being launched this Saturday 22 May.

That’s two days after National’s budget where a hike in GST to fund tax cuts for the rich was announced.

All supporters of our tax justice campaign are welcome to attend the petition stalls organised by Socialist Worker (www.UNITYblogNZ.com) and the Alliance (www.alliance.org.nz).

Here are the times and venues for this Saturday’s petition stalls:

Whangarei
8am-10am, Whangarei Growers’ Market, Water Street

Auckland
12noon-3pm, outside Onehunga Supermarket, cnr Church Street & Selwyn Street, Onehunga.

Rotorua
9am-3pm, Rotorua City Focus, Tutanekai Street.

Tauranga
9am-12noon, Chadwick Road (opposite the post office), Greerton.

Wellington
11am-12noon, Lower Hutt Markets, Riverbank carpark.

Christchurch
11am, The Square (next to the chalice).

Dunedin
10am-12noon, The Octagon.

At the stalls we will be collecting signatures on the tax petition, which has the following wording:

We request Parliament to:
• Remove GST from food.
• Tax financial speculation.

The campaign has a website up and running, ‘No GST on Food’, go to http://www.nogstonfood.org/. Updates on the campaign will be posted there.

John Key plays the role of "Sheriff of Nottingham"

The proposed rise in GST makes the Prime Minister John Key “Robin Hood in reverse” says the Alliance Party, which probably means he is playing the role of the Sheriff of Nottingham – robbing from the poor to help the rich.

Alliance Party spokesperson Victor Billot says an increase on GST to 15% to offset tax cuts for the wealthy is taking money from the pockets of struggling families on the breadline.

The rise in GST will subsidize unaffordable income tax cuts to people such as John Key, and indeed all MPs, whose incomes are far above the average.

Mr Billot says the idea that GST increases are somehow going to encourage savings amongst working people is bamboozling.

“He obviously doesn’t understand the difference between a family struggling to ‘consume’ food, rent and power bills, and a family who are ‘consuming’ unnecessary top end luxuries.”

Mr Billot says amongst the “anti tax” rhetoric there seems to be a lack of appreciation that without taxation, New Zealand and indeed civilization itself, would collapse.

“The great gains in public health, education, welfare, infrastructure and services of the past century have all been funded through taxation, and are now at threat by irresponsible Government’s beholden to powerful private interests.”

The lack of any serious moves on a capital gains tax was also a major failure.

Mr Billot says that major business figures have recently called for capital gains tax and even currency movement taxes, so these policies were quite mainstream.

“However, as National seems to represent the unproductive speculation sector that is whom their policies are helping.”

“What has happened to the affordability of housing under National and Labour in the last few years is a national disgrace, the full effects of which are only beginning to be seen.”

The Alliance proposes a major change in New Zealand’s tax system, phasing out GST and reducing income tax on lower income earners through a stepped progressive tax system.

Progressive income tax would mean higher taxes paid by those who can afford it (such as John Key), a capital gains tax on investment property (not family homes) and also a financial transactions tax on movement of money that would only affect larger transactions.

Tax Working Group flawed in its anti-social focus

A tax system for New Zealand’s future“, the report from the Government’s Tax Working Group, is predictable and flawed in its negative, anti-social focus.

Alliance Party co-leader Kay Murray says that a lot of effort seems to be going into promoting ways of making life more comfortable for well off people who don’t want to contribute their share of taxes to keep New Zealand running.

She says it appears the Tax Working Group, comprised of high income males, is recommending a tax system that benefits high income males.

“There seems to be little recognition of the positive role taxation plays in creating a progressive society where all people can reach their potential and the worst excesses of poverty and insecurity have been ended.”

Ms Murray says the idea that reducing taxes on the already wealthy will make New Zealand a better place to live is a discredited and anti-social idea.

“With all the noise about New Zealand catching up with Australia, then perhaps we should follow the Australian example, where the marginal income tax rate on earnings over $180,000 is 45 cents in the dollar.”

“Tax is required for a civilized society, ensuring public health care and education, and ensuring unemployment, sickness and old age are not the personal catastrophes they were in the bad old days the National Party wants to return to.”

Ms Murray says low income and middle income earners certainly stand to lose from such measures as increasing GST and lowering the top tax bracket.

She says the Tax Working Group should not be setting out to cave in to individuals whose goal in life was getting a free ride at everyone else’s expense, but to close loopholes and ensure that the tax base could support a secure and fair society.

Ms Murray says that the Alliance supports a progressive tax system that would reduce the tax burden on low to middle income earners, phase out GST and introduce a capital gains tax on investment property and a financial transactions tax focussed on large movements of money.

In addition, the Alliance had a fully costed budget for its policies including tax tables, unlike many other parties.