Dance lightly, Mr Seymour – and don’t tread on the Govt’s toes over power-bill relief

The team at Point of Order was reminded this morning we will have a bit more discretionary spending money over the winter months.

We owe this to the beneficence of a Government which – early in its term – decided taxpayers should pick up a bit of the tab for our winter power bills.

In a press statement today, Act leader David Seymour finds serious fault with this policy.

A well-heeled pensioner mate of ours, in contrast, says it will aid and abet him in buying his next Mercedes-Benz.

His ambition to buy such a car was triggered by a news item which detailed Mercedes-Benz plans to build electric vehicles in volume at six factories across three continents and a “global battery network” to support the effort.

Daimler plans for Mercedes-Benz and smart cars to offer electric versions of all car models by 2022.

Markus Schäfer, Member of the Divisional Board of Mercedes-Benz Cars, Production and Supply Chain, commented:

“We address every market segment: from the smart for two seater, to the large SUV.

“The battery is the key component of e-mobility. As batteries are the heart of our electric vehicles we put a great emphasis on building them in our own factories.

“With our global battery network we are in an excellent position: As we are close to our vehicle plants we can ensure the optimal supply of production.

“In case of a short-term high demand in another part of the world our battery factories are also well prepared for export.

“The electric initiative of Mercedes-Benz Cars is right on track. Our global production network is ready for e-mobility. We are electrifying the future”.

Our mate has his heart set on the biggest, flashest EV the Mercedes-Benz people can produce.

He is grateful to the Government for requiring taxpayers to help him save the dosh he needs to buy the car and to ease his power bill at the same time (ahem) as poorer people are being walloped by higher fuel taxes.

The nature of this help is spelled out on the Work and Income website: 

The Winter Energy Payment is an extra payment to help with the cost of heating your home over the winter months.

Applications are not required:

You’ll automatically get the Winter Energy Payment if you’re getting:

• NZ Superannuation
• Veteran’s Pension
• Jobseeker Support
• Jobseeker Support Student Hardship
• Sole Parent Support
• Supported Living Payment
• Young Parent Payment
• Youth Payment
• Emergency Benefit
• Emergency Maintenance Allowance.

Our mate with the intention to plug a new Mercedes-Benz into the national grid is disquieted that David Seymour (“Twinkle Toes”, he scoffs) is railing against this programme.

He is especially apprehensive that Seymour might alert the Government to the folly of targeting its policy only at people who need financial help to pay their winter power bills.

He hopes nobody pays any attention to the Act leader, whose press statement highlights the fact that around 9 per cent of superannuitants earn over $60,000 a year – more than the median income and three times the level of the pension.

Their slice of winter energy payments will cost taxpayers about $73 million.

Seymour’s disapproval perhaps stems from a realisation that some of his predecessors in the Act leadership – Roger Douglas, Richard Prebble, John Banks, Don Brash – are entitled to this handout whereas he has several years to go.

He complains:

“This epitomises a Government that taxes with impunity and throws money around without reflecting on the objectives it’s trying to achieve.

“The Government has simply assumed that all superannuitants are unable to pay their power bills and now taxpayers are now on the hook for that decision.

“It is completely irresponsible to give welfare to people that don’t need it.

“There is no way we can cut taxes, and boost the economy, when political parties of all stripes are addicted to giving away handouts.”

Here at Point of Order we are aware (as the former Act leaders will be aware) that we can opt out of the energy relief programme,

Trouble is, this will require us to find out where to go to tell someone not to bother giving us payments we don’t want.

While we think long and hard about what to do, we have used Seymour’s press statement to fire up the office log burner. We prefer to ponder the big issues of the day in comfort.

Declaration of interest:   The principal writers at Point of Order are automatically entitled to the Winter Energy Payment.

One thought on “Dance lightly, Mr Seymour – and don’t tread on the Govt’s toes over power-bill relief

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