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.

National's budget "blueprint for social breakdown"

National’s budget announced today is pushing New Zealand further down the road of inequality and social breakdown, says the Alliance Party.

Alliance Party spokesperson Victor Billot says the budget achieved two key goals for National: redistributing wealth from the needy to the greedy, and starving social spending.

“For most people, the so-called tax cut will have vanished by the time they get to the end of the first aisle in the supermarket.”

He says that what is most disturbing is the budget gives someone like John Key hundreds of dollars a week extra but leaves the most vulnerable families in New Zealand with nothing.

“The priorities of this National Government are to shovel cash at people like the Prime Minister who will be laughing all the way to his mid winter break in his Hawaii condo.”

“Yet the thousands of struggling families working shift work, long hours, for low pay, get a few coins.”

He says the budget is literally taking food out of the mouths of children from poor families to pay for flash restaurant dinners for CEOs.

“The increase in GST is essentially immoral at a time of mass unemployment, and food and housing costs going through the roof.”

Mr Billot called on the Maori Party to step away from their coalition with National which was permitting this attack.

“If they don’t make a stand now, they will have allowed the most blatant attack on low income communities both Maori and Pakeha to proceed.”

The Alliance has a tax plan that is aimed at creating a balanced and equal society that had a long term future.

Income tax would be heavily reduced on lower incomes, and raised on high incomes, a progressive tax system that would relieve the worst pressures and poverty in New Zealand.

The Alliance would phase out GST and replace it with a Financial Transactions Tax, an increasingly popular alternative.

The Alliance would also introduce a capital gains tax, to tax speculation rather than productive work.

The Alliance Party has joined with Socialist Worker to launch a petition this Saturday 22 May campaigning to remove GST off food and introduce a Financial Transactions Tax.

Launch of campaign to remove GST from food and tax financial speculation

The Alliance Party and Socialist Worker are jointly launching a nationwide tax campaign on Saturday 22 May.

The campaign will champion tax changes that will benefit grassroots New Zealanders.

The campaign will be built around a petition sponsored by both the Alliance Party and Socialist Worker, which requests parliament to:

1. Remove GST from food; and
2. Tax financial speculation.

“These two demands will address imbalances in the tax system, which sees grassroots people having to pay tax on one of life’s necessities, food, while financial speculation goes untaxed,” says campaign coordinator Vaughan Gunson.

“This imbalance will be made worse when the National government delivers the 2010 budget, where GST will almost certainly be increased to 15%,” says Gunson.

“Our campaign will be launched at street petition stalls around the country just two days after the budget announcement, we can expect a lot of support,” says Gunson. “The majority of New Zealanders believe taxing food is wrong.”

“Taxing financial speculation through the introduction of a small percentage Financial Transaction Tax (FTT) would easily fund the removal of GST on food,” says Gunson. “At the same time an FTT would help discourage financial speculation, which destabilises the economy and causes untold harm to ordinary people, as the global financial crisis has proven.”

For more information and comment contact,

Vaughan Gunson
Campaign coordinator
(09)433 8897
021-0415 082
svpl@xtra.co.nz

or

Victor Billot
Media spokesperson
021-482 219
victor@victorbillot.com

Proposed GST rise will hurt bulk funded social services

The Alliance Party says a rise in GST would impact on bulk-funded organizations in the disability, elderly and social services sector.

Alliance Party co leader Kay Murray says these organizations have to pay GST on their total funding, but cannot claim most of the GST component back because the majority of their costs are staff wages.

“Staff wages are exempt from GST, so the proposed increase in GST will represent a funding cut to these services of close to 3%.”

Ms Murray says the majority of these organizations are Not for Profit.

Unless extra funding is provided, they will be disadvantaged by a rise in GST.

She says that some organizations, particularly in the disability sector, have not seen an increase in funding for existing services for close to a decade.

“What will a rise in GST mean for their workforce who are among the lowest paid in the country? Will they see a further decline in their wages and conditions? Will they be hit twice, once through the decline in their own spending power, and again through the decline in the spending power of their employers?”

The Alliance opposes any rise in GST and supports phasing out GST to be replaced with a progressive tax system that includes a “Robin Hood” tax on financial transactions and capital gains taxes on property excluding the family home.

Maori Party needs to demonstrate principle over GST hike

Alliance Economic Development spokesperson Quentin Findlay has congratulated the Maori Party MP, Rahui Katene for stating that the Maori Party could consider walking away from their coalition agreement with the National-led Government if GST was increased to 15%.

Mr Findlay said that it was a principled comment that recognised the reality of the situation – an increase in GST would be unfair and could not be offset by any compensation to lower waged workers.

He says that beneficiaries, students and superannuitants could only expect a small increase that would not cover GST fuelled price increases on basic living essentials such as food, power and phone.

“This National Government has already shown its hostility to workers with its pitiful 25 cent increase to the minimum wage and its statements to public sector workers that they should not expect wage or salary increases.”

“GST is an indirect and regressive tax and it’s good to see that the Maori Party recognises that an increase in GST would hurt lower to middle income earners.”

Mr Findlay noted that the tax issue was one of the defining moments for the National-led Government and the Maori Party needed to stand by its principles in relation to it.

“It is quite obvious that National is listening less to the Maori Party and more to ACT. As a result this Government has now decided to impose economic and tax reforms that benefit the rich while penalising the poorer sections of the community.”

Mr Findlay noted that it was, however, one thing for the Maori Party to recognise the danger in raising GST and another thing to take action.

“When and if push comes to shove, the Maori Party needs to stand by its principles and act and if that means leaving the coalition then it should do so.”

The Alliance Party supports phasing out GST and introducing a progressive tax system.

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.

Time to give flat tax concept a decent burial

Alliance Party co leader Kay Murray says it is time for National and ACT to get over their fixation with flat tax and return to reality.

“Flat tax is an outdated idea of the 1980’s. All flat tax does is give the already wealthy a license to print money while destroying the living standards of low to middle income earners, the majority of the population. The flat tax theory is about as credible as the flat earth theory.”

Ms Murray says the introduction of flat tax would spell the demise of the welfare state.

“Something all New Zealanders should resist, especially since we have been credited with being the first country in the world enlightened enough to introduce a welfare state that includes public health, education and social security for all citizens.” Continue reading

2025 taskforce report a waste of space

The Alliance Party has strongly criticized the 2025 Taskforce and the contents of their new report on New Zealand’s economic future, key points of which has already appeared in media before its official release today, saying that it was so out of touch with reality that even Prime Minister John Key had distanced himself from it.

Alliance Party co leader Kay Murray says the proposals in the taskforce report would lead to “two New Zealands” of extreme wealth and poverty and would destroy the democratic nature of New Zealand society.

Even though the Taskforce’s report had been largely condemned, it represented the thinking of an influential and self-interested group at the top level of the corporate world and bureaucracy in New Zealand.

Ms Murray says that the idea that wages would rise by cutting income taxes that pay for health, education and vital social services was a travesty. Continue reading

Alliance Party calls for phase out of GST starting with food

The Alliance Party has called for GST on food to be scrapped – and the entire tax to be phased out.

Alliance Party co-leader Kay Murray says “GST on food will have to go now if basic food items are to remain affordable for New Zealanders.”

Ms Murray says that figures from the Council of Trade Unions show food prices rose 6% in the past year and are set to continue to rise this year.

“Removing GST would at least allow some breathing space while other long term measures are put in place to keep food affordable. Australia doesn’t have GST on basic food items. If the Australians can manage it surely we can too.” Continue reading