Yardley on Labour


Have you noticed how Jacinda Ardern’s campaign optics seem to have reached into the American playbook? Just like the Democrats under Hillary Clinton, Ardern draws deep from a fawning coterie of liberal actors and comedians. A celebrified Auckland circle of swooning self-importance.

And ’s campaign tactics bare an uncanny resemblance to the dumbed-down simplicity that swept Donald Trump to an improbable victory. Not that they’d ever admit it. It’s all about sloganeering and threadbare policies. “Better healthcare, better schools, better jobs . . .”

An astute observation.

But beyond the aspirational rhetoric, the sizzle and soundbites, the substance is glaringly lacking – just as it was for Trump. Labour has opted to paper over its policy detail dearth, by simply fire-hosing its election platform with $19 billion in new spending.

It’s all very well to splash the cash like drunken sailors, whether it’s on bribing tertiary students or young parents, but undecided voters who wish to make a considered decision deserve a policy programme from Labour that carries depth. Not everyone now has the concentration span of an earwig.

And if you’ve been paying attention, the campaign to date, has increasingly exposed the lack of sausage in Labour’s roll. Are the policy wonks on paid leave? Where is the filling? Labour’s campaign narrative seems to be a case of “spend it, tax it or review it.” And all three categories seem to have been stripped of any granular detail.

Spend it, tax it or review it. What a good summary.

Take the water tax. Most Kiwis are happy for royalties to be slapped on commercial bottled water producers, but the downstream effects of any such imposition on irrigators remains very murky. And of course, Labour has conveniently deferred making any clear decisions until after they’ve held a review.

Yet, at a recent candidates meeting in Temuka, Labour’s Rangitata candidate Jo Luxton indicated that local councils could use water tax revenues to fund their roading projects. So much for this cash cow being deployed on cleaning up our rivers.

But it’s the taxation working group review that is increasingly looking like a calculated sham to mask Labour’s true intentions and deflect the hard questions. 

It is obvious that Labour wants to impose a capital gains tax. They are just refusing to say so, because then they would have to give details of how it would work.

It’s completely unacceptable that a major political party, seeking a mandate to govern, continues to exude such a confused, contradicting and opaque message on taxation. 

Will the CGT apply to your parents home when they die, making it a de facto estate tax?

Ardern should either commit to imposing a capital gains tax in her first term, and outline its scope, or commit to delaying any such imposition until it’s been put to the people at the next election. Kicking for touch via the taxation review not only looks gutless, but is gutless. And shifty.

I actually support a CGT, so long as it is broad based with no exemptions and other taxes are decreased so it is revenue neutral. But Labour is being gutless and shifty by refusing to be honest about its intentions.

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