The fact is that the vested interests opposed to any change were well organised, funded, not too careful with the truth at times and, of course, fully supported by that awful tribe of right-wing shock jocks on private radio who dominate our airwaves during the day.
The best response to this came from Simon Bridges:
A superb sledge.
As for interests opposed to the change being well funded, well if that is true we have Dr Cullen to thank for that. I can’t give details away but I was staggered at how much more money people would donate to an e-mail appeal against CGT, if we mentioned Dr Cullen in the e-mail. He was the best fundraising tool the opponents had.
The real failure in the debate was the absence from it of all the groups who might be expected to support a fairer tax system. Only near the end did a group emerge, but it muddied the picture by throwing into the debate a whole set of other proposals as well.
Where were the social justice groups, the Salvation Army and the churches, the public sector unions clamouring for large wage increases, indeed all those who keep discovering new social crises in the social services left by the previous National government?
The fact is they largely only rode on to the scene after the battle was lost, while blaming the Government for losing it.
The biggest group missing was of course the Labour caucus. As others have pointed out the PM never once fought for it, so no surprise.
And all the unions and social justice groups would have fought for it, if Labour had asked them to. They didn’t turn up, because Labour didn’t. And Labour had a year to work with them and prepare them.
He cites four main reasons:
- Appointing Dr Cullen as Chair. As I said above, this was mana from heaven for opponents. It made the TWG look like a partisan group, and immediately got the donations flowing in. And keeping him on the payroll after the report was done just added fuel to the fire.
- Silence from the PM and Finance Minister. They didn’t fight for it once in public.
- NZ First. Labour should have got some commitment up front rather than pray and hope they might agree.
- Underestimating the public. They argued only a small percentage of NZers would pay CGT but the reality is it would impact “600,000 small and medium-size businesses, 200,000 lifestyle block owners, 250,000 Bach owners and 1.2 million kiwi savers in New Zealand”
Anyway the CGT is dead and buried for the next 20 years or so. The appropriate quote would be one Dr Cullen himself used “We won, you lost, eat that!”