Queue here to register your thoughts on a capital gains tax – but not if the queue gets too big

Labour  ministers’  enthusiasm   for a  capital   gains  tax   appears to  be waning  by the day.  Even the PM,  Jacinda  Ardern, no longer  seems to be talking  up  the need to  make the  tax system  “fairer”  by  bringing in  a  comprehensive   CGT.

Revenue  Minister  Stuart   Nash   went so far  as to  say  this  week   “there is  nothing to  consult  on”.

Here  is what he told  Parliament  on Thursday:

Nash: When I said I’m not consulting on a capital gains tax, I’m also not consulting on the 19 measures that the Tax Working Group considers would reduce compliance cost to small to medium enterprises.

Gerry Brownlee: Why not”?

NASH: Because—can I say this again—there have been absolutely no decisions made on this, so why would I formally consult when there’s absolutely nothing to consult on?”

Then    there   is   the    Minister of  Agriculture   Damien   O’Connor,  who  told  the   NZ  Herald in an  interview   published  last Saturday he had not read the whole report  of the  Tax  Working  Group.

This prompted a tart comment from National  MP  David  Carter in the general  debate  in Parliament  on  Wednesday:

What I found extraordinary is Damien O’Connor’s comment in the NZ Herald that as of this day, he has not read the Tax Working Group’s report to know the effect it’ll have on agriculture. That is just extraordinary, that he can claim to represent NZ farmers and he hasn’t bothered to read the report that advocates for a capital gains tax, advocates for a nitrogen tax, advocates for a water tax, advocates for an emissions tax, and, finally, advocates for a fertiliser tax. What effect will all of those taxes have on NZ agriculture? He doesn’t know, and what’s worse is the Labour Party doesn’t know”. 

Carter  had  another  insightful  anecdote  for  Parliament:

I heard an extraordinary story about a particular stand at the Wānaka show over the last weekend. Mark Patterson, that little-known NZ First member from somewhere down that end of the world—he had a stand, and he put out a sign in front of his stand saying, ‘Come and tell us what NZ First should do about the capital gains tax.’ It had a queue longer than the Ferris wheel’s. There was such a big queue of people in the Wānaka show wanting to tell Mark Patterson what to do with the capital gains tax. Do you know what his response was? He took the sign down and shut up the tent. That’s how embarrassed he was”.

Point of Order   thinks there’s a  job  ahead for   Sir  Michael Cullen  ( who is still  being   paid  $1000 a  day  for  any  work he does on  the  TWG  report).  He could   give    each   minister a  full  briefing  on his  report.

Finance Minister Grant Roberston  told  Parliament  in  another   question time  exchange:

I believe it is appropriate for Sir Michael Cullen, as the chair of the Tax Working Group, to explain the recommendations of that working group while the matter is under consideration by the government. If, as part of those explanations, he is required to correct misrepresentations and lies, that is the role he has”.      

And here  is  another  illuminating passage  on  Sir Michael’s   $1000-a-day value:

 Amy Adams: “Does it count as explaining the recommendations for Sir Michael Cullen to make statements describing the Opposition, and I quote, as ‘salivating like a bunch of guard Alsatians from the German army in World War II’, and isn’t that simply a political attack being funded from taxpayers’ dollars?

Grant  Robertson: Sir Michael Cullen is responsible for the words that he uses. A phrase does come to mind: “If the shoe fits”.

Adams: Why is he so cavalier about paying a former Labour Minister $1,000 a day to undertake clearly political attacks?

Robertson: I am not being cavalier about this. The pay rate that Sir Michael Cullen has is based on the Group 4, Level 1 body rate under the Cabinet fees framework.

Adams: Why is the Minister using taxpayer funds to pay Michael Cullen $1,000 a day to do, and I quote, ‘favours for the government’, as Willie Jackson stated in Parliament yesterday?

Robertson: I don’t believe that’s a fair characterisation of what was a very full and rich speech by Jackson.

Point of Order  can’t  help   wondering   if    ministers  have  fully grasped   how   the   CGT   issue  is  now  eroding  the   political   impact of the government’s own economic  plan.

Perhaps  some  of  them  are  pinning  their  hopes   on  Winston Peters  targeting the  CGT   with his own torpedo.

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