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Source: New Zealand Parliament – Hansard

Question No. 3—Finance

3. Hon PAUL GOLDSMITH (National) to the Minister of Finance: What did he mean yesterday by his comment on the tax system that “by and large, it is fair and balanced”, and does he think changes to the tax system will be required?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON (Minister of Finance): I meant to express my view that, by and large, the tax system is fair and balanced. As with all Governments, there have been areas where we have looked to improve fairness and balance—for example, such as cancelling the tax cuts proposed by the previous Government which would have disproportionately benefited the wealthiest New Zealanders, and taking the decision to redirect that funding to low and middle income New Zealanders through the Families Package. The Government continues to work on changes to the tax system where we think they’re required—for example, on making sure multinationals pay their fair share.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: Does he think some New Zealanders will need to pay tax at higher rates?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: The Government has made a commitment not to change the rates of income tax.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: Who will pay for all the extra spending he announces every day?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: That is being paid for through the hard work of New Zealand taxpayers and through the ability of New Zealand to borrow against our very strong and robust balance sheet, and the fact that we came into this crisis with one of the lowest rates of debt in the world.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: I might try that again: who will pay for all the extra spending he announces every day?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: Mr Speaker, I did just answer that question.

SPEAKER: Question No.—sorry.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: Isn’t it true that we all will pay, including our kids, and, if so, can he now assure people that every dollar he is spending is considered and focused on results?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: In answer to the last part of that question, absolutely. In answer to the middle part of that question, I think all members in the House can see the impact that happens when we don’t invest in current generations now and in the moment. That’s what happened in the late 1980s and early 1990s in New Zealand, and the scarring effect of children growing up in homes where their parents are unemployed or where their parents cannot afford to put food on the table is the thing that this Government is determined to avoid.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: Has he had a report from the education Minister as to where the $87 million worth of modems sent to schools after they returned from lockdown has gone, and is that a good example of good quality spending?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: The vast bulk of those modems went to support young New Zealanders to learn when they were in lockdown, to bridge the digital divide. A small number did not go where they were intended, but the vast bulk went to the exact purpose we wanted, which was to make sure that young New Zealanders could keep learning.

Hon Stuart Nash: Has the Minister heard about the tax initiatives lost continuity and feasibility expenditure—initiatives that the tax community and the business community have been asking for for years, but only sorted by this Government?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: Yes, I have. Both of those initiatives have been championed by the very modest Minister of Revenue, who’s done an excellent job in ensuring that New Zealanders pay a fair share of tax.

SPEAKER: Oh well, I would just remind the member about irony, but we’ll go on to question No. 4.