ACT on ‘Labour-lite’ housing policy

Yesterday the Government announced plans to build about 25,000 extra houses in Auckland over the next ten years – see National’s Auckland housing policy.

This looked a lot like a partial Labour ‘Kiwibuild’ policy. Despite this Labour MPs slammed it.

Andrew Little belittled the policy:

Breaking news – National admits there’s a housing crisis

National finally admits there’s a housing crisis, but today’s belated announcement is simply not a credible response to the problem it’s been in denial about for so long, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little.

“National can’t now credibly claim to be tackling the housing crisis four months out from the election when, for nine years, they’ve ignored the plight of first home buyers and families in need.

“This Government has long rubbished the idea of building houses. Time and again it’s failed to deliver any significant increase in housing supply.

“National cannot be trusted to do anything meaningful for the thousands of first home buyers in Auckland who have been denied their shot at the Kiwi dream.

“Amy Adams has fudged the figures. How many of these houses will actually be affordable? What does ‘affordable’ mean? How will that give hope to first home buyers when speculators can buy these houses too?

“It’s just more smoke and mirrors from a Government that’s failed miserably. It’s a mish-mash of old and new housing programmes. Many of these houses have already been announced.

“Auckland currently has a shortfall of 40,000 houses and growing. This plan won’t address the shortfall, let alone build the extra houses needed to keep up with demand.

“This last minute announcement just won’t do enough. National has had its chance. It’s time for a fresh approach.

“Labour will build 50,000 houses in Auckland people can afford to buy and we’ll increase the supply of state houses; we’ll crack down on speculators; and we’ll invest in warm, dry homes.

“National hasn’t a shred of credibility left. The evidence keeps mounting:

• It promised a big increase in emergency housing beds in the last six months, and hasn’t delivered.
• It’s Special Housing Areas promised an extra 39,000 homes, fewer than 2,000 have been built.
• Housing New Zealand has failed meet its building targets and reduced the number of state houses by 2,500.

“This cynical announcement by National should be seen for what it is – an election year fudge to paper over the cracks of its failure in housing. It’s time for Labour’s plan,” says Andrew Little.

However it was ACT’s David Seymour who went into detail with his criticism.

National need to think bigger than Labour-lite

National needs to do more than just adopt tunnel-vision Labour policies, says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“If the goal is to close the housing shortfall, this is a step in the right direction, but it won’t be enough. The proposal will add 25,000 homes when what we need is another 500,000.

“We can only achieve this by fixing the underlying problem: that regulations and infrastructure pressures prevent private developers from building homes.

“The Government will have to loosen up land use rules if it wants to get 34,000 homes built on a few scraps of Crown land. Why not just follow ACT’s plan to replace the Resource Management Act for the whole city, letting private developers do the building for us?

“The Government will also struggle to build houses at an affordable cost under current construction regulations. ACT has a policy for this: we’d replace construction red tape with an insurance requirement, letting developers cut costs in risk-free ways.

“The other problem the Government will face is pressure on infrastructure. Fortunately, ACT has a plan for this too. ACT will allow Councils to use half of the GST from construction projects to fund local infrastructure.

“The Government is right to say we need more homes. But if we want to see these homes built on anywhere near the scale required, we’ll need a stronger ACT to make the government enact substantial reform, instead of Labour-lite tinkering.”

National has failed in it’s attempt to substantially reform the RMA this term and even if they get the chance and try again next term that would talk some time, they would probably need the support of NZ First or Labour, and in the meantime Auckland’s (and New Zealand’s) housing shortage will get worse unless a lot more houses and flats are built.

Time for a meaningful discussion about Super?

A meaningful discussion about the future of universal superannuation in New Zealand is long overdue, but the National Party is adamant that kicking the Super can down the road is the best way of avoiding it.

Stuff: David v Jacinda: Super changes a poison pill that must be swallowed

David Seymour:

“A political hot potato that no party wants to handle.” That’s how The Nation’s Lisa Owen last week described rising superannuation costs, and she’s almost right. Since Andrew Little last year abandoned Labour’s policy of raising the age of eligibility, ACT is the one party campaigning on sustainable super.

Now perhaps that may be sort of correct. In past terms of the current Government Peter Dunne campaigned for changes to Super, promoting ‘flex-super’ which is still a United Future policy.

Politicians across the spectrum, including the Prime Minister, treat changes to super like a poison pill for how it polls with older voters. But if this Government doesn’t make changes, a future one will. By denying this, politicians deny younger Kiwis the chance to even discuss the issue. They are showing contempt for younger voters.

It is often framed as an ‘appeasing older voters’ versus addressing issues that younger peeople will face in the future.

No-one wants to punish today’s retirees or near-retirees. The question is how super should work in the decades ahead. In the long term, policy change appears inevitable – we’re healthier, working and living longer, resulting in a rapidly aging population. This trend won’t stop – half of babies born today are expected to live until the age of 100, and in my lifetime we’ll go from five taxpayers per superannuitant to two taxpayers per superannuitant.

The effects of this huge demographic shift can’t be overstated, with its effect on super alone costing an extra billion dollars each year. It’s reasonable to assume taxpayers won’t tolerate this forever, and fair enough.

When asked about the problem, politicians gloss over the real scale of the cost and instead pivot onto smaller issues. A typical tactic is to focus on immigrants, who can receive the pension after just 10 years of residency. This period should be extended, but that would be just a drop in the bucket compared to the cost of super for the existing ageing population.

Another idea mentioned is flexi-super – letting some people take it earlier at a lower rate, or later at a higher rate. It’s a good idea, but ultimately doesn’t affect the policy’s cost. It needs to come with more substantial reform.

Some suggest means-testing – taking super away from retirees with high earnings. But it’s surely both unwise and unfair to punish those who choose to continue working and pay taxes.

So that brings us back to raising the age.

That’s something that National won’t consider, and I presume NZ First won’t either.

Jacinda Ardern:

I agree with you David, on most counts.

Where I disagree is with David’s interpretation of other parties position on this question – namely ours. Labour knows we have a problem and we knew it when Michael Cullen set up the Super fund. We knew it when we campaigned to raise the age of superannuation, not just one election, but two. That may have been rejected by voters, but we can’t give up on the conversation on how to guarantee universal super for everyone. That has to be our bottom line.

So yes, you’re right. The National Government has rejected taking action in this area, and they are wrong.

But Seymour points out:

The Prime Minister promised in 2008 not to make changes under his leadership.

Not only that, Key and Bill English refuse to consider planning for the future affordability of Super.

If they get back in for another term that’s another three years of inaction, unless ACT and/or Dunne hold the deciding votes and force National to do something.

If NZ First hold the balance of power then no change will be locked in, whether Labour or National lead the next government.


Perhaps the courage we are now asking for needs to come from us, but also from voters – we need them to start banging down a few doors too.

It doesn’t seem to be an issue that voters will decide elections on.

A meaningful discussion about the future of universal superannuation is needed but is unlikely to happen in this decade.

Greens would stand aside for Labour in Mt Roskill

Greens have announced they won’t stand a candidate in the Mt Roskill by-election, should Phil Goff win the Auckland mayoralty and resign from Parliament.

Stuff: Greens won’t stand candidate in any Mt Roskill by-election

The Greens will not stand a candidate in a Mt Roskill by-election if Labour incumbent Phil Goff wins the Auckland mayoralty and vacates the seat, the party has announced.

The deal is part of a memorandum of understanding the two left-wing parties signed earlier this year – but the Greens say the move has “no bearing” on its plans for the 2017 election.

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei said the party had decided not to stand a candidate in the seat “after several weeks of internal discussions”.

“The Mt Roskill by-election will be closely contested, and we don’t want to play any role in National winning the seat.” 

Turei said the decision showed the success of the memorandum of understanding between the two parties, which includes an agreement to co-operate in Parliament and investigate a joint policy and/or campaign.

The party was making the announcement now to be clear with its supporters and the public, given the “considerable interest” in a likely Mt Roskill by-election.

I think the timing of this announcement is odd, before the results of the local body election are known.

The Greens risk a backlash over this – perhaps this is a deliberate test of what the reaction might be in advance of next year’s general election.

Last election Barry Coates stood for the Greens in Mt Roskill. He will soon replace Kevin Hague as next Green off the list in Parliament. A by-election would have given him a chance to raise his profile but he has to defer to a party decision to stay away.

The Greens may think that not standing in order to help Labour candidate Michael Wood will give them and their MoU with Labour good publicity, but it could just as easily backfire. I guess it’s best to test this now before taking a bigger risk in next year’s election.

ACT’s David Seymour is highlighting the change of attitude to electorate jack-ups by both Greens and Labour.

Mt Roskill arrangement shows hypocrisy of opposition

The Opposition’s hypocrisy over ‘dirty deals’ is brazen, says ACT Leader David Seymour as the Green Party confirms that they won’t stand a candidate in Mt Roskill as part of an arrangement with Labour.

“Michael Wood’s campaign in Mt Roskill is set to be a brazen display of hypocrisy,” says Mr Seymour. “Two years ago he was bemoaning John Key’s endorsement of a vote for me in Epsom as a ‘dodgy deal’. Now look at him.

“The Greens ought to be just as embarrassed, with Julie-Anne Genter having called John Key’s Epsom endorsement ‘undemocratic’. Clearly, this was nothing more than faux-outrage.

“Strategic voting is a reality of MMP, but hypocrisy is optional. Labour and the Greens have shown how cheap their words are by participating in a deal that far eclipses the electoral arrangements they criticise every election.”

Wood stood for Labour in Epsom last general election and has been selected as Labour’s candidate in Mt Roskill should Goff resign.

It will be interesting to see if ACT stand a candidate in Mt Roskill. That would give them more opportunity to bash Greens and Labour with a hypocrisy hammer – but it could also jeopardise the National candidate’s chances.

ACT didn’t stand a candidate in Mt Roskill in 2014.

3 strikes, 3 years for burglary?

Burglaries are a growing concern. yesterday Duncan Garner tweeted:

Clarification; on Saturday in I said burglaries were up almost 12% in one year. I was wrong. Stats NZ just told me it was 14%

Yesterday the Dominion Post editorial: No easy answer for burglaries

The police brass estimates that they currently get an officer to 70 per cent of burglaries. Unfortunately, they solve many fewer than that – about 9 per cent of those recorded.

On the face of it, a guarantee of attendance by the police seems an obvious response. Yet criminologists and those who represent police officers agree that simply attending burglaries does not offer a sure bet of improvement.

There are no witnesses to most burglaries, so catching the offenders is difficult. A low resolution rate is not unique to this moment, nor to New Zealand; it is, to some extent, just the nature of burglaries.

On the other hand, as criminologist Greg Newbold points out, sending officers to follow up on what most people regard as an invasive crime can be reassuring to victims. Failing to send them, meanwhile, can breed cynicism – among those affected, their neighbours, and perhaps even those committing the crimes.

It may not be as bad as it sounds.

Still, as Collins was at pains to point out a couple of days after her announcement, burglary numbers over the past year have defied the trend and leapt upwards – by about 12 per cent nationally.

Some of this increase appears to be down to a methodological change in how burglaries are counted. Some may be due to more scrupulous counting by the police in the wake of the scandal over doctored burglary counts in Counties-Manukau in 2014. Certainly other police statistics suggest that recent burglary numbers remain far lower than they were in the mid-1990s, despite a much larger population.

But we still have a significant problem.

The Police Association says it reflects deeper currents of drug and gang crime. Whatever the cause, and however hard the solutions, burglary is certainly a crime that causes public anxiety – and thus political peril. Collins’ populist intervention – and her decision to draw attention to a rising category of crime happening on her watch –  is a clear signal she is aware of that.

Collins should also be aware of a proposal from ACT’s David Seymour – 3 strikes for burglary. This is outlined in the latest ACT Free Press.

Burglary Up
Burglary is up and even National MPs’ electorate offices are now being burgled. The police minister says that the police will now attend every burglary, but what will that mean?  Police generally know what is happening on their patch and prioritise accordingly.  We doubt that attending every burglary will increase the resolution rate because most burglaries are carried out by professionals too smart to leave traces.  We wonder what other crimes police will now not attend to.

Unless the number of front line police officers is increased more time spent on burglaries will mean less time spent on other crime.

Three Strikes for Burglary
Earlier in the year ACT tabled its Three Strikes for Burglary bill, but other MPs objected to it being debated.  The policy is very simple: with resolution rates as low as they are, you have to commit a lot of burglaries to be convicted three times, so you should be sentenced to three years.  ACT’s Three Strikes for violent and sexual offences has been a success at reducing reoffending for those crimes.  ACT will continue campaigning for a Three Strikes rule for burglary.

Is 3 strikes, 3 years for burglary worth considering? Should we keep recidivist burglars off the street and out of our homes for longer?

Reactions to predator free target

Some reactions to Government sets target to make New Zealand ‘predator-free’ by 2050


Green Party conservation spokesman Kevin Hague…

…said welcomed the target, but said research showed it would cost $9b to make New Zealand predator-free. 

“The Government seems happy to once again put out the begging bowl to the private sector to fund what should be taken care of by the Government.

“We have real concerns over what will happen to this predator-free dream if the Government can’t attract private funding, or if that private funding dries up.”

The Greens are usually quick off the mark on policy issues but no media releases from them yet and nothing on their Facebook or Twitter.

ACT Leader David Seymour…

…has welcomed the announcement and said it echoed his own policy to sell off Landcorp and place the money it gains into a trust, so community groups and private enterprises can apply to operate inland wildlife sanctuaries.

“We’re interested in seeing how the Prime Minister plans to skip inland islands and eradicate pests from the nation wholesale.  It’s a laudable and ambitious goal, we look forward to seeing the detail.

A lot will depend on the detail.


…is questioning the Government’s level of commitment. 

It’s far to soon to seriously question commitment. The target has only just been announced.

Predator Free New Zealand is a laudable idea but the Government has not committed any real money into killing New Zealand’s pests, says Labour’s Conservation spokesperson Nanaia Mahuta.

“The only promise is that the Government will ‘look’ to contribute one dollar for every two dollars from councils and the private sector.

“This lack of long term funding to kill our millions of pests has to be considered alongside years of funding cuts that have blunted the work of the Department of Conservation.”

Whether it’s feasible to become anywhere near predator free is being questioned.

While some think that it really is possible others have serious doubts.

But even managing to reduce rat, stoat and possum numbers by 50%, 0r 75%, would be a significant achievement – as  long as the reduced numbers were maintained.

Without continuous containment the numbers would increase again, as they have done when the predators were first introduced or introduced themselves.

Government details: Predator free by 2050

Pragmatism versus ideology

In Political Week Stuff looks at the trend towards political pragmatism and away from ideology.

This was prompted by a week of political liaisons that bridge supposed ideologies.

Winston Peters and Don Brash had a get together:

When it comes to political odd couples they don’t get much more unlikely than Don Brash and Winston Peters. So any passers-by witnessing them sharing lunch at Wellington’s Old Bailey on Thursday would have done a double take.

Peters used to harbour a special sort of loathing for Brash, whose dry stewardship of the Reserve Bank epitomised everything that was wrong about monetary policy in Peters’ eyes.

As someone who was regularly lampooned by Peters’, meanwhile, Brash was understandably distrustful of his NZ First opponent and appalled by his Muldoonist-style economic policies.

Also during the week Michael Cullen offered a fix for NZ Post with a proposed part sale of Kiwibank to the Super and ACC investment funds.

And John Key offered his and the Government’s support for Helen Clark’s bid for UN Secretary General.

Labour supported both the Kiwibank rearrangement (as did Jim Anderton) and Clark’s bid.

And what’s been National’s biggest noise in welfare lately? Raising benefits, something it might have nicked from Labour’s manifesto.

So what happened?

Pragmatism has trumped ideology. It doesn’t polarise the electorate the way ideology does, and it blunts the mood for change. Pragmatism shows politicians are listening. Pursuing ideology at all costs shows they’ve stopped listening.

There are still ideological lines drawn between National and Labour, of course, but they are well scuffed compared to the bright lines drawn by the likes of the Greens and ACT.

ACT’s David Seymour opposed the Kiwibank move, he wants full privatisation, and Greens opposed it because they feared it was a move in the direction of privatisation, but from either side of the political spectrum they can afford to promote ideological positions.

It helps, of course, that Key and Clark seem to have struck up a cordial relationship over the years, maintained by text and a personal visit whenever either of them is in each other’s town. But even if there had been any personal enmity, they would have put that aside for the greater cause in this case.

As for the Brash-Peters love-in, that one may yet have more to play out. As a staunch proponent of RMA reform, Brash will see in Peters a potential friend and ally if he is a means to achieving that end.

But Key may be harder to convincedthat the olive branch extended by Peters over RMA reforms doesn’t come with too high a price tag, namely doing over the Maori Party in Peters’ favour.

Nor will Key be convinced that once Peters’ achieves that aim he won’t use it to hold Key over a barrel.

That’s not about ideology; it’s self preservation.

Self preservation in politics often requires pragmatism. This has become easier with a significant shift in power seeking political focus.

Last century politics was more of a left versus right battle with ideology far more prominent.

Now the big battle is over the centre, where ideologies and pragmatism intermingle more and more.

It’s very hard to see what ideologies either National or Labour see as important, less so what they see as non-negotiable.

Clark’s Labour government won and held the centre vote.

Key’s National government now rules the centre, with Labour wavering between centre and left, wavering between leaders and wavering in the polls.

The ideological fights are confined more to the fringe fanatics in comments at blogs like Whale Oil and Kiwiblog on the right and at The Standard and The Daily Blog on the left.

Of the blog authors David Farrar is still closely involved with National’s ongoing success but due to major failures at the extremes Cameron Slater and Martyn Bradbury are increasingly impotent, and the Standard authors struggle to unite the left and they damage more than enhance Labour’s chances.

Their ideologies have been overtaken by political pragmatism and they seem unable to catch up.

Terrible Newshub poll

As I’ve often said, online polls are flaky at the best of times, but today’s Paul Henry poll is one of the worst I’ve seen.


This is open to anyone whether they currently vote Green or not, so the result can’t accurately reflect opinion on the question, presuming non-Green voters are likely to respond, including current ACT voters.

But worse is the poll promoting of one of the two choices, with “The Right Choice” prominent.

You couldn’t get a more suggestive graphic accompanying a poll.

This is a terrible poll.

And it gets worse – Seymour and ACT were featured on the Paul henry Show.

Up next leader David Seymour joins us to talk about his plan to get votes.


ACT in Ohariu?

In their Free Press newsletter ACT say:

ACT to Contest Ohariu?
Like Epsom, Ohariu voters are aspirational, successful, and understand the power of using their candidate vote to get an extra MP into Parliament.  The voters there might well be open to an energetic ACT candidate.  National might be open to cooperating with a candidate who actually believes in the National Party’s values.

With the possibility that Dunne is just about ready to retire anyway this could be a smart move by ACT. And National probably wouldn’t be unhappy.

Seymour apologises after “harden up” criticism

One of the dangers with an MP like David Seymour raising his profile is that he will also raise the chances of being taken to task for slip ups.

He appears to have slipped up over the last couple of days when he is alleged to have told students suffering from depression to “harden up”. Syemour has apologised “for any offence his comments might have caused”.

3 News reports Seymour denies telling mental health students to ‘harden up’:

A petition has been launched calling for an apology from ACT Party leader David Seymour after he apparently said university students with mental health issues should “harden up”.

Mr Seymour disputed the Victoria University students’ sequence of events, though he has apologised for any offence his comments might have caused.

He was one of a panel of MPs at the university’s Weir House halls talking about the growing mental health issues among students who face significant pressure from studies, paid work and extra-curricular activities.

There were a number of reports Mr Seymour said students would have to “harden up” before passing the microphone to another MP.

It led student Sophie Wynn to launch a petition asking for an apology from Mr Seymour and to consider how damaging the comment was to those with mental illness.

A petition seems a odd response but Seymour’s comments obviously concerned some people. He defended himself:

However, the party’s sole MP believes his comments have been “misreported” and were taken “quite wildly out of context by people with political motivations”.

“I answered a quite long question on a range of issues and I said that you should harden up if you’re going to blame all of your problems on someone else, then that’s not a way to be happy.”

He said people face a number of difficult challenges – financial, academic, work – and some who do have mental illness should seek help.

“In the broader context, I said, ‘Look, sometimes you have to face up to your challenges and believe in yourself.'”

Mr Seymour said had he been asked directly about mental illness, anxiety and depression, his answer would have been different, “but that’s not the question I was asked”.

In Stuff’s ACT leader David Seymour’s ‘harden up’ line stuns Wellington students more details are given about the allegations.

Victoria University law student Sophie Wynn, who has personally suffered from anxiety and depression, was at the politicians’ debate at Victoria University’s Weir House on Monday night when Seymour made the comment.

A student in the audience raised a question about the the rise of depression and anxiety among students as a result of increasing pressures of money, work, extra curricular activities and university work, she said.

“I was completely and utterly disgusted when Seymour replied with ‘harden up’.

“I was further disgusted when I approached him afterwards, to press him further about his comment.

“I asked him if he knew about how anxiety and depression worked, and he said that those who claim to suffer from it are simply not choosing to be happy.

“He claims that people are over-medicated and that by labelling themselves as being mentally ill, they are making excuses as to why they are choosing not to be happy.

“I pushed further, and I shared my personal experiences with anxiety and depression.

“I asked him if he would tell me to harden up, and his response was a firm ‘yes’.

Seymour’s side of the story is also reported:

Seymour said the telling was “completely misrepresenting” what happened on Monday and came from partisan students.

His comment came after a long question about the wider pressures students faced and the mental health issues were just one part of it , he said.

“If you are going to blame every problem on someone else, sometimes you have to harden up.”

People with mental health issues did at times need medical help but he was not in favour medicating for every problem.

During his discussion with Wynn after the debate he told her there was a lot of help available and she should seek it, he said.

“Sometimes you have to make a choice and choose to make the most of things.”

MPs need to be very careful when commenting on mental health issues. What might seem like sensible advice to a healthy MP may not be seen the same way by someone who is suffering from mental problems, as many people are.

United Future Leader Peter Dunne heard the “harden up” comment and- like Seymour – said it was in relation to a wider question about stresses students faced.

Labour Leader Andrew Little was also at the debate and said the “remarkably insensitive”  comment was followed by a “sharp intake of breath all around”.

The student had asked a serious question and expected a serious answer, he said.

Law student Olive Wilson – who has also had mental health issues – said the comment hit her and the rest of the audience with disbelief.

An audience of students is likely to include some who are prepared and willing to take to task inappropriate comments from an MP.

Mental Health Foundation chief executive Judi Clements said Seymour’s choice of wording was “unfortunate”.

“The idea that people experiencing mental illness need to ‘harden up’ is unfortunately a common misconception, but it is very unhelpful.

“People in distress deserve our compassion and understanding, not our judgement.”

She was pleased he had since clarified his meaning but said it was unfortunate he did not do that on the night.

“His audience was likely to include people who were negatively affected by his remarks.”

The NZ Union of Students’ Associations has issued a media release saying Seymour should sharpen up on facts over ‘harden up’ comments.

National student president Rory McCourt says official data released by New Zealand’s universities shows Mr Seymour’s dismissive approach is out of step with evidence on the issue.

“Between 2009 and 2014 New Zealand’s eight universities experienced a 24 per cent increase in counselling sessions. At Victoria University, where Mr Seymour spoke, the number of individual students being seen by the counselling service has jumped 44.7% in the same time, to 2,139 students last year.”

Mr McCourt says Mr Seymour should spend some time on campus with students and ask them about the impact of rising rents, longer working hours and unsustainable academic pressure on their studies and mental health.

“I think we’re risking creating a generation of highly-strung graduates. With rises in counselling sessions on almost all campuses, this is a real issue. We’re disappointed Mr Seymour has taken this approach despite the evidence. The data suggests this is a growing problem.”

“How bad does it have to get for politicians to take the deteriorating mental health of our students seriously?”

Hopefully Seymour will learn something from this university experience.

This has nothing to do with ‘PC’ – MPs need to be sensitive to issues like mental health.

UPDATE: NZ Herald has also covered this today – David Seymour’s ‘harden up’ talk blasted

Mr Seymour denied he made those comments, “but I actually said you did have to choose sometimes how you are going to feel about something, which I think is true. But I did not say if you have a mental illness, you have chosen it.”

“You did have to choose sometimes how you are going to feel about something” is on shaky ground when talking about mental illness.

Even in general terms it’s an odd comment. Feelings are felt, not chosen.

The Herald lists some useful contact details:

Where to get help:
 Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
 Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
 Youth services: (06) 3555 906
 Youthline: 0800 376 633
 Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (4pm to 6pm weekdays)
 Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
 The Word
 Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
 Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155
 CASPER Suicide Prevention
If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.

Labour diversion #1 – provisional tax policy propasal

Labour launched Andrew Little’s first policy yesterday to try to help businesses pay tax – but it’s a policy that other parties (National, Greens, ACT) have already promoted.

Was Labour that the Government had announced implemetation of an almost identical policy earlier this year and had already had public consultation on it?

Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson announced Labour’s first policy since Little became leader on Twitter at the same time as Little was announcing it in a speech.

Andrew Little addressing the Hutt Chamber of Commerce. Announcing new proposal to make life easier for small business

Embedded image permalink

Labour proposing Flexible Tax for Business. Optional system to manage provisional tax when it works for them.

Planned change to business tax is Little’s first policy as Labour leader

Little has been leader since November 2014, eight months ago.

Under Labour’s proposal business will have option to pay tax through regular instalments at a rate they can adjust.

Discussion document on Labour’s flexible tax for business available
Email your feedback to

Little’s media release on it:

Labour is launching a new proposal to give businesses more flexibility and control over when they pay their tax, Opposition Leader Andrew Little announced today.

“Today I am launching a discussion document to give businesses the option of paying their income tax through a system similar to PAYE called Flexible Tax for Business.

“Business people know their business better than the IRD so Labour wants to let business owners tailor their tax payments to fit their cash flows.

“Small businesses frequently tell me one of their biggest bugbears is how difficult it is to pay provisional tax.

“Under the current system they are forced to guess their annual income and pay tax in three large instalments throughout the year. If they guess wrong, they can be faced with a big bill at the end of the year which can push a small business to the wall.

“Under Labour’s proposal, businesses will have the option of choosing to pay their tax through regular instalments at a rate they can adjust. This means businesses can align their payments to suit their circumstances.

“To further help our businesses get ahead, our proposal scraps harsh late penalties for provisional tax, and raises the level at which provisional tax kicks in from $2500 to $5000.

“Flexible Tax for Business is about giving our businesses more control over how they pay tax.  That’s how we will help them do well, grow and create jobs.

“From here, we will be sending out the discussion document for feedback from business owners around the country on how we can improve the proposal before we take it into the 2017 election,” says Andrew Little.

To read Andrew’s speech click here.

To view Labour’s discussion document click here.

This all sounds quite good. It also sounds quite familiar.

As Steven Joyce quickly pointed out:

Labour re-announces Government announcement

Acting Minister of Finance Steven Joyce has congratulated Labour Party Leader Andrew Little on finally announcing his first “new” policy after eight months in the job, although unfortunately for Labour it’s a cut and paste of a previous Government announcement.

“Labour announced today it was launching a discussion document on changes to provisional tax for businesses. However it seems to have overlooked that the Government launched its own discussion document containing almost identical proposals back in March,” says Mr Joyce. “These in turn were based on National Party policy at the last election.”

The Government has already consulted on proposed changes to provisional tax including a business PAYE, changes to use-of-money interest and penalties, increased use of tax pooling and the use of tax accounts. A Green Paper was launched on 31 March this year and submissions closed on 29 May.

“Feedback on the Green Paper’s suggestions has generally been supportive, and provisional tax was the part most commented on. As we’ve said previously, the changes will require new technology to be implemented, which will be developed as part of the IRD’s Business Transformation project,” says Mr Joyce.

“Quite why Labour has started its own consultation is beyond me.

“Submissions are now closed but the Government would be happy to accept a late submission from the Labour Party in support of the proposal,” Mr Joyce says. “We also appreciate its implied endorsement of the Business Transformation process that will make these policy changes possible.”

A link to  the March announcement can be found HERE.

A link to the Government’s Green Paper, Making Tax Simpler, can be found HERE.

A link to the National Party’s 2014 election policy on this issue can be found HERE.

Same for ACT Party@actparty  Here’s our statement, from May, on scrapping provisional tax:

Scrap provisional tax? Yep

The provisional tax system should be scrapped, says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“Having to estimate volatile incomes is unfair on taxpayers, especially given the penalties that occur if you get it wrong.

“I am pleased to see the government recognise that the use of technology allows provisional tax to be managed much more like PAYE – calculated as you earn income.

“The Government is seeking views on whether provisional tax estimations should be scrapped in favour of simply paying tax as you actually earn it.

“I urge businesses and individuals to take up the invitation by the Government to submit on this issue.”

Go to to have your say.

  • Discussion on Better Digital Services – closes 15 May
  • Discussion on the plan for the Tax Administration – closes 29 May
 Same for Rod Drury:

IRD already working through changes to Provisional Tax for small biz. Cloud Accounting software can bring this to life quickly

Same for NZGreenParty@NZGreenParty Greens support simplifying tax for small business: Now that the four biggest parties in Parliament agree on:

Greens support simplifying tax for small business

Now that the four biggest parties in Parliament agree on the way forward, it’s time for the Government to get on with simplifying provisional tax for small businesses, the Green Party said today.

“The Green Party has been talking about simplifying provisional tax for small businesses, like Labour suggested today, since before the 2011 election,” Green Party Co-leader James Shaw said.

“Anyone who talks to small business operators knows how annoying and difficult the current guesswork-based provisional tax system can be. Moving to a simpler, pay-as-you-go model would make life so much easier for small businesses and free up their time to focus on growing jobs and revenue.

“Labour’s announcement follows similar recent comments by NZ First, and Steven Joyce says the Government and IRD are open to ideas around simplifying provisional tax for small businesses. Even Act seems to agree with what is clearly now the mainstream consensus.

“Now that there’s political consensus about helping small businesses by simplifying the provisional tax system, the Government needs to get on with making the change,” said Mr Shaw.

It doesn’t sound like Labour are at the consensus stage yet, they have launched ‘a proposal’ and ‘a discussion document’ for consultation.

Was Labour unaware this was already policy shared by most other parties? Were they unaware the Government had already announced it and have already had a consultation process on it?

Was this thought through by Labour or was it thrown together to try and take the spotlight off their ham fisted approach to data analysis and targeting of Chines property buyers?