This is really sad. I would have thought that the National Party would care about rebuilding Christchurch following the devastation of their earthquakes. And I would have thought that a compassionate, albeit conservative, major Government party would have agreed that a temporary levy on higher earning taxpayers living outside Christchurch is a good idea. After all, the public do.
But here’s Minister for Everything, Steven Joyce, deputising for Finance Minister Bill English, replying to Green Co-Leader Russel Norman in Parliament today (full transcript available here):
Dr Russel Norman: Why is the Government ignoring the compassionate offer of New Zealanders to chip in to pay for a levy at $1 billion a year, which is a much more fiscally responsible approach, and one that avoids the risk of a credit downgrade due to increased borrowing, and that also avoids the risk of inducing a new recession if there are big spending cuts in the Budget?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: I note that it is a compassionate offer by the Green members on behalf of a whole bunch of New Zealanders they do not speak for. I think that is largely what is going on here. That is cool and everything, but the reality is that the Government believes strongly that we can reprioritise expenditure. As I have said, the Budget will be out in the middle or at the end of May, or something like that, and the Greens will have a chance to see how the Government will do that.
Um, Mr Joyce, the poll indicated that substantially more New Zealanders favoured a levy over increased Government borrowing or substantial public spending cuts to help rebuild Christchurch. But the Minister for Everything obviously has his own agenda. It is to create an economic crisis, and then use that as an excuse for privatisation of the assets we all own as taxpayers.