We probably shouldn’t sweat the small stuff, but the Gold Card is one of those annoying fixtures on New Zealand’s policy landscape. In its own small way, it represents everything wrong with New Zealand politics.
Cynics might think I’m just annoyed because it provides an answer to the question “what has Winston Peters actually done for the last 20 years”, but he probably didn’t even think of it himself, anyway.
If stories around Wellington are true, the way it came about borders on corruption. It was not done to benefit over-65s. It was the work of a very crafty bus company lobbyist who thought “how can I get an extra few million dollars of taxpayers’ money thrown at our industry?”
Of course, just asking for money would not work, the private benefit had to be dressed up as some kind of public good. What could sound nobler than combining senior citizens with public transport? So, he fed the idea to New Zealand First, et voila.
Yep a genius move from the lobbyist who managed to get taxpayers to hand over tens of millions of dollars to transport operators.
Perhaps those less-than-admirable means could be justified by noble ends, but what is the justification for taxing $26 million dollars a year so that anyone, including millionaires, can take a free ferry to lunch on Waiheke Island?
If (and that is a big if) there is a problem with affordability of public transport, it should be targeted on need not age.