Our future: the reason people choose to stay in New Zealand, or return to New Zealand, is tied up with the type of society we have.
People love New Zealand because they feel at home here. You and I value access for everyone to quality health-care. All New Zealanders value schools that are safe with dedicated teachers, and an education system that delivers quality results for our kids.
These values are rooted in the fact that New Zealanders have an underlying sense of fairness. It is what makes New Zealanders tick. We love to see everyone have a fair go.
Our pride in our identity as New Zealanders is tied up with a sense of fairness.
The tax-switch National “delivered” in its last budget was another example of National’s reverse Robin Hood policy: taking from the poor to give to the rich.
Even on their own terms, National’s logic is fatally flawed. National says that tax cuts for the wealthy will help New Zealand attract and retain talent. For reasons I will explain below, this is simply not true.
GST is a consumption tax that disproportionately affects the poor. A larger proportion of the day-to-day tax now falls on low-income earners, and a bigger proportion of the off-setting tax cuts go to the wealthy.
All of this insults and undermines the fundamental sense of fairness that New Zealanders share.
Why doesn’t a tax cut for the rich make NZ’s high-achievers rush home? I know of people who’ve done well at University and entered high-paying jobs only to leave New Zealand to explore the world. Most of them soon realise that if they are after wealth, they should stay in London, New York or Dubai. Even a $40 per week tax cut is not going to come anywhere close to matching what they can earn overseas. But for most of them, it is about the experience, not the money.
The reason our brightest high-achievers return to New Zealand is because they know they can raise a family here – in a caring society. They will feel safe when they walk the streets. They will be able to be admitted to the hospital emergency department without first having to prove they have insurance. They trust that everyone in our society will get a fair go. It is this sense of safety and opportunity for all that is being undermined by National’s tax swindle.
When a chief executive gets a $1000 per week tax cut funded by several workers earning the average wage – who are now paying loads more in GST – New Zealanders think it is unfair.
The growing gap between rich and poor undermines our vision of New Zealand as a fair society. It is this vision that brings our people home, not tax cuts for the rich.
The National tax swindle is killing the New Zealand Dream.