Julie Anne Genter’s refusal to rule out a red meat tax and the Health Ministry’s work on a sugar tax show nothing is off limits for this Government when it comes to taking more from hardworking New Zealanders, National’s Finance spokesperson Amy Adams says.

“The Government’s default response on many issues is to impose more tax – and if it that won’t work, then it’s off to a working group. It seems unconcerned with collateral damage which includes putting more costs on New Zealanders or choking the economy.

“Red meat is New Zealand’s second-biggest export after dairy, accounts for more than 2 per cent of GDP and is a significant employer throughout the country.

“It isn’t good enough for the Associate Health Minister to say the Government won’t impose a red meat tax ‘at this stage’. That creates uncertainty for an industry that employs more than 25,000 people. A tax would also drive up food costs for those who can least afford it.

“It is concerning that options for more taxes are emerging as the Government considers the final report of the Tax Working Group, having directed the group to devise a Capital Gains Tax.

“Already the Crown accounts show the Government plans to take an extra $17.7 billion of tax from New Zealand families over the next four years compared to projections under the previous Government, even as economic growth forecasts have fallen.

“It is clear the Health Ministry is well advanced on recommendations for a sugar tax.

“Health Minister David Clark is either fibbing when he says that his Government is not considering a sugar tax or he has lost control of his Ministry which ‘chose’ to prepare a feasibility study on yet another tax this Government didn’t campaign on.

“This study in particular not only explored health ratings, sugar labelling, advertising and the reformulation of processed foods but also looked into the feasibility of reducing restaurant's portion sizes -  so it was clearly not a small report.

“National wants New Zealanders to keep more of what they earn. We promise not to introduce any new taxes in our first term in Government. Instead, we will focus spending on core services such as health, education and transport while eliminating wasteful spending that doesn’t contribute to better outcomes for New Zealanders and their families.”

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