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Source: New Zealand Parliament – Hansard

Question No. 3—Prime Minister

3. CHRISTOPHER LUXON (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by all of his Government’s statements and actions?

Rt Hon CHRIS HIPKINS (Prime Minister): Yes, particularly this Government’s work to ease the cost of living and support New Zealand families and businesses through difficult economic conditions. We are building an economy that keeps wages growing ahead of inflation, that maintains record low unemployment. We’re taking practical steps to support families like removing the $5 prescription charge, extending targeted childcare assistance, extending 20 hours’ early childhood education to two-year-olds, and making public transport free for kids and at half-price for younger New Zealanders. Our policies are carefully designed to deal with the pressures families are facing right now while maintaining prudent levels of Government spending and keeping a lid on debt.

Christopher Luxon: Was his trade Minister, Damien O’Connor, right or wrong when he said “We probably don’t have enough tax in this country.”?

Rt Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: The member’s taking the Minister’s quote out of the full context in which it was made.

Christopher Luxon: Was former tax lecturer Deborah Russell right or wrong when she said removing interest deductibility from rental properties was “a bad idea” and that “Plenty of residential property investors would simply increase rents.”?

Rt Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: The Government’s policy position on this is very clear and I think Deborah Russell is making a significant contribution in the tax area. I note that those comments were made over 10 years ago.

Christopher Luxon: Can he confirm that since the Government increased the cost of owning a rental property by removing interest deductibility, average weekly rents have increased by $75.00, just as Deborah Russell predicted?

Rt Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: I note that there has been a significant spike in inflation during that period.

Christopher Luxon: How much better or worse off would a typical low-income renter be if they save $2.00 a week on fruit and vegetables but were paying an extra $75 a week in rent?

Rt Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: The Government is doing a number of things to support low-income New Zealanders, including making sure that their incomes are keeping up with the rising costs that they are facing. Wage growth is growing ahead of inflation. That is one of the best things we can do to support families through this inflationary period. Bringing inflation down is also one of the good things that we can do to support them, and I note many of the policies the member is promoting would result in higher inflation for longer.

Christopher Luxon: Has he received advice about the number of IRD officials and lawyers that would be required to determine whether a mixed bag of salad or a vacuum-sealed beetroot count as processed or fresh?


Christopher Luxon: Was finance Minister Grant Robertson right or wrong when he said that cutting GST on some items will “mostly benefit supermarkets”?

Rt Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: The member himself has confessed to having a road to Damascus conversion. The policy that the Labour Party has announced, of course, will be implemented after the election. I welcome the member’s confidence in the re-election of this Government.

Christopher Luxon: Was the Government’s Tax Working Group, led by Sir Michael Cullen, right or wrong when they reported that evidence from 17 countries over 14 years found that only 30 percent of the benefits of GST exemptions were actually passed on to consumers?

Rt Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: I will allow everybody to make their own judgments on the Tax Working Group’s report. Of course, I note that there are some other recommendations in there that the member isn’t quite so enthusiastic about.

Christopher Luxon: Are there any members left in his Cabinet who actually support his tax policies or are they just waiting until the election so they can dump him and his desperate economic band-aid politics?

Rt Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: Well, at least I have a clear tax policy, which is more than the member has, and I think it’s because his co-leader hasn’t figured out how to pay for it yet.