Robertson ‘surprised’ by reaction to CGT capitulation – yeah, right

Minister of Finance Grant Robertson has belatedly tried to defend the decision of Cabinet to drop any plans for a Capital Gains Tax, and the decision of Jacinda Ardern to rule out trying to bring in a CGT at any time under her leadership.

A CGT had been a prominent Labour Party policy, and was the main focus of the Tax Working Group led by ex-Labour Finance Minister, Michael Cullen.

It has been justifiably been noted that Ardern and Robertson did little to promote or sell the CGT after the release of the Working Group recommendations.

NZ Herald: Finance Minister Grant Robertson leaps to defence of PM Jacinda Ardern over Capital Gains Tax ‘leadership’ claims

Finance Minister Grant Robertson said he was surprised that the capital gains tax decision was getting such a strong reaction and he said claims that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had shown a lack of leadership over it was “ridiculous.”

“I’m not surprised that there are people who feel strongly about the importance of getting better balance back into the tax system.”

He understood they were disappointed, as he was.

“What I am a bit surprised about the extent to which people are defining the Government by this decision when I believe we have done a lot to be proud of in terms of making New Zealand a fairer and better place, including within the tax system by closing GST loopholes, extending the brightline test and ring-fencing of rental income losses.

Ardern and Labour have been blasted by people on the left who had been sold the idea that a CGT was a significant policy that would help create ‘a fairer and better place’.

“I feel that we have done a lot that is progressive and important, so I am a little bit surprised by that reaction,” Robertson told the Herald.

Robertson shouldn’t be surprised (and I doubt that he is surprised much if at all).

“It would have represented a shift at the core of our tax system so I understand why people see it as significant but there are other ways of achieving fairness and that is what we are focused on.”

Are they focussed on standing up to or sidelining Winston Peters?  If they want to deliver the sort of ‘fairness’ and transformation that Ardern has sold the political left then they should be dealing with their biggest problem.

“In the end, we cannot beat the maths of the Government and that’s the reality of where we are.

Robertson and Ardern and Labour were there as soon as they formed a coalition government with NZ First in 2017. But they have strung everyone along with their Tax Working Group for fifteen months. They can’t have only just worked out the maths of their Government.

“The Prime Minister has shown immense leadership over recent months on a number of topics. It’s just on this particular issue, the Coalition couldn’t find consensus.”

It’s not just on this particular issue, but it is a significant failure for Labour.

Robertson said the Labour Party’s New Zealand Council were consulted about taking the policy off the table.

“I’m sure many of the New Zealand Council were disappointed in the same way I was that we couldn’t get it over the line this time,” said Robertson. “But they were certainly consulted and were part of this decision.”

A part of the decision? It’s hard to see this involving any more than being told that Winston said NO. Perhaps the Labour Council was a part of Ardern’s decision to rule out any CGT under her leadership in the future – but what about the Labour members who thought that CGT was a big thing?

“There will be plenty of ideas inside the party around how we can create the fairest possible tax system. It’s just it won’t include a capital gains tax.”

“The fairest possible tax system”, minus whatever NZ First don’t agree with. But more than that, minus any possible future CGT, with a good chance NZ First won’t be around to stop it.

“I know most members of the Labour Party understand the importance of being able to be in Government and make change and every now and then there will be something we don’t do that we would like to do but we are achieving a lot alongside that.”

What a lot of unconvincing waffle.

Robertson was largely silent when the CGT needed to be promoted. This is far too late and too unconvincing.  This just reinforces the suggestion that he and Ardern had given up on getting a CGT long ago, probably as soon as they signed the coalition agreement with NZ First.

I’ll ask again whether this was a done deal in the coalition document that Labour have refused to make public.

Leave a comment

29 Comments

  1. Gezza

     /  24th April 2019

    When they finally move the uncharismatic, lost, & unconvincing front person Bridges out of the picture will be the time we see whether National has the ability to use this latest, massive addition to their armoury to unseat Labour’s charismatic, but equally lost & unconvincing front person & gain the Treasury benches.

    Reply
    • Corky

       /  24th April 2019

      I heard a sound bite of him this morning talking about tax bracket creep. After the dulcet tones of our PM – Saint Jacinda- the grating drone from Bridges was nauseating.

      Reply
      • Duker

         /  24th April 2019

        Bracket creep – after 9 years they now want to ‘sort of eliminate bracket creep’.

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  24th April 2019

          I think that JA looked like a weakling over this, as well as a poor loser.Talk about the old man with the donkey who tried to please everyone and pleased no one.. She displeased many people when she announced it and others when it fizzed out.

          Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  24th April 2019

            Michael Cullen was vewy cwoss in the Herald; vewy cwoss and pouty.

            Reply
  2. Blazer

     /  24th April 2019

    how much juice can the opposition squeeze out of this CGT Orange?

    Move on.

    Reply
    • It was more like a lemon, with many quite bitter about how their hopes were dashed.

      See Political Roundup: Progressives despair over the CGT decision

      Political Roundup: Why the CGT had to be ruled out

      Barry Soper: Killing capital gains tax the painful part of politics for Jacinda Ardern

      For her this was the painful part of politics – not being able to do what you told the electorate you were so determined to do, introduce a capital gains tax to inject more equity into the system. It’ll now never happen under her leadership she insisted, before striding out and taking the elevator to the solitude of her ninth-floor office.

      She’s gone silent ever since, handing the Tuesday morning media interviews over to her buddy Grant Robertson. Even though she may have suffered a personal body blow, the backdown isn’t going to do Labour all that much harm if you listen to the opinion polls.

      But Labour would now desperately like to move the narrative along.

      Reply
      • Duker

         /  24th April 2019

        a blogger who doesnt allow comments called No Right Turn isnt ‘many’.

        Maybe labour could be like Key did with his 2010 TWG,recommended an increase in GST – pretend it wasnt going to happen before the election, and then suddenly introduce it at next budget after budget.

        Another time a policy( selling large batches of state houses) was announced on the Sunday morning after the election was won….perhaps they forgot to tell the voters before election day…yeah that would be it.

        Reply
    • David

       /  24th April 2019

      Dont you despair a bit Blazer though, 9 long years in the wilderness and then it turns out your team is just a continuation of pretty much Roger Douglas but with a prettier face.
      No CGT, no Kermadecs, no Kiwibuild increases in greenhouse gases, increases in child poverty, increases in folk on emergency housing lists, status quo on immigration, nothing for mental health and on and on of nothingness.
      It must be hard to get excited now the new way is the same as the old way.

      Reply
      • Blazer

         /  24th April 2019

        I always prefer the lesser of 2 evils David.

        Reply
      • Duker

         /  24th April 2019

        We didnt catch up with Australia either . ..didnt worry Keys fans one bit.

        labour has only had one year since their first budget so thats only 12 months to change the rut left from the last 9

        Funny that St John has suddenly started squaking about ‘full funding’ yet they were happy to obey nationals instructions to ramp down the ambulance call outs – by having a phone back to see if you really do need an ambulance-in the last 9 years

        Reply
        • David

           /  24th April 2019

          Apparently we had a housing crisis, a mental health crisis, a crisis here and a crisis there and if you are happy for nothing to get done we are more than happy for your side to do nothing and just leave things as National left them.
          Happy you get to seek solace in pointing things out that could be comparable from years and years and years ago (which are seldom equivalent) if it helps you get through the grinding impotency you are experiencing.

          Reply
  3. David

     /  24th April 2019

    Ardern ditched the tax during the election campaign, within days of launching it, and then used the working group to reward her mates and enrich and quieten down her enemies then had her friends on the TWG to push a ridiculous CGT (the most brutral in the world).
    NZFirst will be quite happy taking the credit for ditching an unpopular new tax and Ardern gets to play to her audience that while she wanted a fairer system big bad Winston wouldnt let her. Everyone has been played by a clever and unquestioned by the media PM, well played Miss Ardern she will be delighted with the ongoing coverage.
    She has the brightline test and she has changed the tax system as well as other moves that have made landlording uncomfortable, very pleasingly we are seeing some good rent increases after years of them being flat, seeing multiple applications for rentals to as more amateur landlords looking for tax advantages exit the market and supply shrinks.

    Reply
    • And the Greens pick up the labour voters who can’t accept Labour’s capitulation, so the Greens move safely over 5%. But Labour knows those votes still have no real home but with themselves as the Greens won’t use their leverage. It’s a win, win. But very cynical politics.

      Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  24th April 2019

      Having Cullen front it was a masterstroke for ensuring its demise.

      Reply
      • Duker

         /  24th April 2019

        You do know what happened to the National governments 2009 Tax Working group recommendations dont you !
        Their headline idea was a ‘land tax’ -for some reason that fell on deaf ears at the time.

        But more broadly , as Treasury said about the 2010 TWG report recommendations
        ” Reforms such as reductions in personal income tax rates, along with methods to broaden the tax base, involving the introduction of a Land Tax and extensions to the Capital Gains Tax,
        https://treasury.govt.nz/sites/default/files/2010-02/tgls-creedy.pdf

        So its OK when nationals TWG recommendations are sidelined but howls of outrage when labour does it.

        Reply
        • David

           /  24th April 2019

          You know that Ardern said she wanted a CGT and appointed a TWG to design one for her that she said she would put to the voters in 2020 ?
          You know that National had a TWG appointed to take an overview of the whole tax system and recommend any changes they wanted and make sure it was fit for purpose ?

          Reply
          • Duker

             /  24th April 2019

            Thats not what was announced :
            “Tax Working Group. The Tax Working Group is an advisory body that was created by the New Zealand Government in late 2017 to investigate ways of reforming New Zealand’s taxation system and making it “fairer.” Some key areas under its purview include the Goods and Services Tax and alleviating the housing market.

            Not too different from the 2009 TWG really .

            You shouldnt make stuff up, makes you seem like a buffoon full of hot air

            Reply
  4. David Farrar at Kiwiblog: Topham Guerin

    So they set up Topham Guerin. And you know what – they were bloody good at what they did. They gained National as a client. They did work for the UK Conservative Party. We’ve used them at the Taxpayers Union because they’re bloody good (they were involved in the very successful anti-CGT campaign) and Crosby Textor uses them, because again these two guys in their 20s have established themselves as really smart and effective online campaigners. They’re a huge success story that we should be proud of.

    Ah:
    – National weren’t very successful in the last election
    – National’s online campaigning since the election has hardly been a raging success
    – the UK Conservatives look like the opposite of success
    – the Taxpayers’ Union has (along with Simon Bridges and Winston Peters) claimed credit for the CGT being ditched, but it looks like Labour never actually wanted it.

    RW Capitalist pointed out:

    Bit of a SO WHAT story.
    CGT was always a cot case, NZers NEVER wanted it.
    The case to promote the negative view, would have been some of the easiest work they ever did.
    Maybe Labour should have hired them, now that would have been a mission.

    Labour seemed too have hired inaction instead, which was the most successful move in dumping the CGT.

    Reply
    • Ray

       /  24th April 2019

      The serious lack of push for CGT by the Labour MPs was quite amazing and has to lead to doubts on the Parliamentary Labour members real interest in pushing the subject.
      Even more strangely while Miss Ardern really is someone “who wouldn’t recognise a national debt, if she tripped over it”, Robertson is a long time campaigner for it but barely a word!

      Reply
      • Blazer

         /  24th April 2019

        seems you and a number of other right wingers are hugely disappointed that no CGT is going to be introduced.

        Never mind Ray,maybe the Nats will pick it up.

        Reply
        • Ray

           /  24th April 2019

          Doubt if this is a surprise to you Blaze but I organised my affairs sometime ago so as to avoid me or my children having to pay CGT, on the supposition that it will come sooner or later.
          So it wasn’t a worry to me personally I just didn’t like all the exceptions and the fact that it really wasn’t going to gain much extra tax income for the state coffers.
          Oh and it’s worth remembering for every story of a capital gain there is a loss which you don’t hear trumpeted.
          Were those going to be given a tax write off ?

          Reply
          • Duker

             /  24th April 2019

            many tax losses are ring fenced why wouldnt CGT be the same , only set against capital gains.

            Reply
      • Duker

         /  24th April 2019

        ‘Ardern really is someone “who wouldn’t recognise a national debt”

        How quickly you forget . Key when he was campaigning for PM in 2008 had to be chaperoned by Bill English during ‘serious’ interviews as his knowledge of government administration was superficial
        There was a major instance where he said he ‘would love to see wages drop’ in a voice taped interview for the local paper in Kerikeri. Clearly he mangled his words but the party fought like hell to try and get a retraction even going over the heads of the editors.

        “First, we had Key’s telling silence in Parliament. Then we had the excuses that John couldn’t recall the exchange, that he was misquoted, that he never said it and even that he was joking. When those lines failed, National changed tack and claimed Key had been talking about Australian wages all along.
        https://thestandard.org.nz/transcript-proves-key-is-lying/

        Reply
        • David

           /  24th April 2019

          A misreported quote from 2008 ! You are endlessly amusing but please people lets not sink to this level and quote Arderns speeches to the comrades at the international socialist movements.

          Reply
          • Duker

             /  24th April 2019

            Misreported was only one of many excuses Keys spin doctors used
            in order
            1) couldnt recall
            2) misquoted
            3) never said that
            4)joking (—-an Key staple! )
            5) he had been talking about Australian wages all along
            They even tried attacking the journalist as ‘eavesdropping’ – when it was arranged for his benefit for a story in the local newspaper

            Trouble was the journalist recorded the discussion- as its very easy to do and essential as liars dont like being caught out

            They didnt like it either when the teapot tapes were recorded too

            Reply
    • Duker

       /  24th April 2019

      Topham Guerin.?
      two enterprising guys just want to start their own business. Would that be the David Farrer/Curia model where the national party is the big client.
      After all John Tower the National partys Auckland supremo was a Topham Guerin director when they began and until a few months back.

      maybe Jami lee Ross will have more information about national party spending- that they were reluctant to tell the Party President about- that covered ‘advertising’ – perhaps Facebook campaigns by astroturf groups [that seem to be the TGF UK speciality undertaken by Topham Guerin]

      JLR tapes transcript
      “JLR: I don’t think we can raise tens of thousands and completely keep him out of the loop.
      SB: No no we can’t.
      JLR: Maybe if you’re just honest with him about it. [hahahaa]
      SB: I think that’s right. Look, I’ll raise it with him but we should probably just think it through. I mean, it can be in the party but I do just wanna make sure we’ve got that money to do those sort of things, right? Don’t you think?

      Reply
  1. Robertson ‘surprised’ by reaction to CGT capitulation – yeah, right — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition

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