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The Tennis Ball Party

Green and soft on the outside, empty on the inside, the Green Party is the tennis ball of New Zealand politics. I’d always thought the Greens’ policies would lead to Guaranteed Minimum Income for all; I just didn’t think they’d announce it themselves. Naturally, their Poverty Action Plan is being slammed from most political quarters and is unlikely to become a feature of a future Government. This hasn’t put off Marama ‘c-word’ Davidson, who is yet to appreciate that her enthusiasm for a policy is not the same as electoral support.

The Green Party is just like a tennis ball, green on the outside and empty on the inside.

Even odd-ball TOP Leader Geoff Simmons has labelled the proposal “disastrous for New Zealand.” Like tasteful shirts, ex-candidate Joshua Love and doing something worthwhile, Simmons rejects it. The GPI has been compared to TOPs UBI, which Davidson doesn’t accept, saying the UBI was too low to make a difference to poverty figures. I could never see the point of chump change to all for nothing either.

Davidson used an interview with John Campbell to sell the policy, which was as hard hitting as wilted Pak Choy.  Having been humiliated previously by every half-rate interviewer last time the Greens released welfare policy, Davidson has finally learned something. Unfortunately she learned where to find Early Childhood interviewers: not the importance of numbers. 

I refuse to let her rob me of a cringe-worthy performance, so dug through the archives to find this 2018 car accident with Duncan Garner. The Oscar for Best Horror goes to, “yeah, I don’t have that on my head right now.” 

The Poverty Action Plan breaks down into handouts and takeouts. Let’s start with the handouts

  • $325 minimum guaranteed income for all New Zealanders currently not working full time including tertiary students. The equivalent of working 17.25 hours on the current $18.80 minimum wage. 
  • The ability to feed them if you breed them is of no interest to the Greens. Instead, taking the planning out of family planning comes with a new financial reward. Sole parents will have a $110 top-up to their GMI bringing it to $435 a week.
  • Machine gun birth-rates bring an additional $100 a week payment per child under three years old. Here’s hoping fertility treatments, with their higher rates of multiple births, don’t become an additional right under the Poverty Action Plan in the future.
  • Not satisfied with complete welfare dependency for those on lower incomes, the Greens will replace the middle-class Working for Families welfare program with a Family Support Credit. The first child entitles working parents to $190 weekly with an additional $120 for each subsequent child. Abatement thresholds and levels will also be loosened so earning a sufficient income is no barrier to staying on welfare.

It would appear that if you have plenty of kids and a well paid job, New Zealand will potentially become a country of those who have welfare and those who pay high marginal taxes to fund welfare. Is that going to be sustainable? 

9% of the population earn over $100,000 and they currently pay 42% of all income tax. 16% of the population pay zero income tax, while 32% pay 8% of income tax. To fund the looters paradise, 219,000 New Zealanders will pay an extra 4 cents of tax on all income over $100,000 (37%), while a further 122,000 New Zealanders will get walloped with a 42% tax charged on income over $150,000.

The Greens believe these higher income taxes will raise $1.3 billion a year. It looks like a lot, though it’s a drop in the bigger-picture Government budget. Of course, it will not raise anything close to that amount. New Zealand is facing tough economic times post-election when all the COVID-19 welfare support runs out. A faltering economy is going to impact the number of workers earning those income thresholds, while others can afford a good accountant to minimise their tax bill.

To disincentivise avoiding income taxes through purchasing property, the Greens will place a wealth tax on total assets, though this looks like it will create a new financial services industry. Extravagant art and jewellery will be liable though there are exemptions on assets under $50,000 like the family car. Measuring wealth per person rather than per household makes avoidance as easy as splitting ownership, leading to a smaller pool of taxpayers being liable than the Greens think. The proposed tax is 1% on the value of assets above $1 million and 2% on the value of assets above $2 million. 

You may think this is too stupid to risk serious consideration by a future coalition government; however, the number of parties likely to remain in the next Parliament works in the Greens’ favour. Currently polling 1.9%, New Zealand First will struggle to survive betraying their entire voter base. Those who lean to the right but are tired of National’s leftward slide have a rapidly expanding alternative in the Act party to cast their vote. The Greens are perilously close to 5%, have more public policy horrors to present and always get a poorer result than the polls indicate; however, they’ve remained continuously in Parliament since 1999.

If the next Parliament is National/Act and Labour/Greens, a majority for the latter could see parts of this plan become a reality.

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