18 Feb 2024
Finance Minister Grant Robertson has once again lost his fight on tax policy, with Prime Minister Chris Hipkins soon to recycle a failed old Labour policy of removing GST from fresh fruit and vegetables, National’s Finance spokesperson Nicola Willis says.
“Labour’s Cabinet and caucus are massively divided on tax policy. The cracks that were exposed after infighting over the failed wealth tax policy are continuing to deepen.
“I understand Labour will soon announce a tax policy of removing GST from fresh fruit and vegetables – despite Grant Robertson raising significant concerns about the idea.
“Bereft of a coherent plan for strengthening the economy, reducing the cost of living and lifting incomes, Labour is resorting to yet another flimsy band-aid that would just take fruit and vegetable prices back to where they were nine months ago.
“As late as May this year, Grant Robertson appeared to rule out such a policy, saying it wasn’t practical and would mostly benefit supermarkets. He has raised significant concerns about the challenge of administering the policy, describing it as ‘an absolute boondoggle to get through’ and not the right approach for having a real impact on the lowest income people.
“The Prime Minister himself is confused about how such a policy would work, implying this week it would apply to hot chips – which are clearly not a fresh fruit or vegetable.
“Chris Hipkins no longer appears to take his Finance Minister seriously. He ignored him on the fuel-tax band-aid, killed his wealth tax fantasy and now he’s forcing him to promote another policy he clearly doesn’t believe in.
“Why should New Zealanders trust Grant Robertson to manage the economy if even his own Prime Minister doesn’t trust his advice?
“David Parker has already resigned as Revenue Minister in protest at the Prime Minister’s approach, leaving first-term MP Barbara Edmonds to pick up the nightmare of trying to make the half-baked GST proposal fly.
“What the Government should actually do is deliver a plan to address the underlying drivers of rampant price inflation. But Labour are all at sea on tax - they have mismanaged the economy, driven up the cost of living and left more and more Kiwis struggling to get by.
“National will strengthen the economy to reduce the cost of living, lift incomes for all and deliver better health and education services. Our tax policy will deliver income tax reductions to hardworking Kiwis, making an average full-time worker around $1000 a year better off.
“Meanwhile the Coalition of Chaos will lurch from one half-baked idea to another, increasingly divided, united only by their insatiable desire to tax New Zealanders more.”
Click here to view Grant Robertson's previous quotes about taking GST off food.