The Nation – bed tax, Tillerson and candidates

A follow up from Labour’s no show on The Nation last week:

On The Nation’s “bias”, I’ve also heard that Labour spindoctors are briefing journalists against Lisa Owen. Esp after previous Twyford iv.

On The Nation this morning:

talks to Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee on next week’s visit by Rex Tillerson, the NZ-US relationship,

Odd talking about this before Tillerson gets here unless it’s trying to promote an agenda.

Brownlee says they want to talk to Tillerson about prospects for the TPP.

On whether he’ll bring up Trump’s unpredictability: “I don’t think we’ll be raising issues of US political stability.”

Brownlee can’t comment on what is right or wrong for Trump over the Paris climate agreement, but reiterated wide support for the agreement still.

Owen tries to get Brownlee to admit to some sympathy for the view that many claims about climate change are made up. Instead he supports the main science and concerns – “”The world’s never seen anything like this before”.

He predicts many businesses in the US will stick with what they’re already doing to reduce carbon emissions.

Is Trump being wilfully ignorant re climate change? “He’s made a promise to US voters and sticking to it.”

Brownlee says discussions with Israel are “ongoing”.

Would Brownlee give up his portfolio to aid coalition negotiations? He says it’s up to the voters. It was

And we’ll meet some of the new faces running for Parliament

Some lucky candidates get selected for free promotion.

A good discussion, Shane Taurima (Maori Party, ex-Labour) going hammer and tongs with Kiri Allan (Labour). Taurima looks capable, Allan struggled to impress.

Nicola Willis came across well and is well informed.

was left in the middle of the crossfire for the first half and struggled to find her feet when finally given a say, but was good when speaking about something up her alley, the right of prisoners to vote.

talks to about his budget, the so-called bed tax and how Akl is going to pay for all that infrastructure

Goff says council’s legal advice indicates they’re on “very firm ground” re bed tax for hotels.

He says the budget has $2 billion on infrastructure, 40% of that on transport. The transport funding shortfall is as big as $7 billion because of higher than predicted population growth. “Lisa Owen suggests there’s a $4b shortfall for Akl transport – Goff says it’s actually $7b! Pressuring Govt to stump up cash”.

Goff says there’ll be an announcement next week on road pricing… he says it’ll be good news in the long term.

Goff actually came across very well generally, he may be better suited to being mayor than an MP, and especially than a party leader.

 

 

Another reason not to go to Auckland

Phil Goff and the Auckland City Council have voted for a ‘bed tax’. This is purportedly to get hotels and motels to partially pay for the cost of staging events in Auckland, but it imposes costs on just some accommodation options and will cost everyone who uses them regardless of whether they are visiting Auckland for an organised event or not.

It also makes the cost of doing business in Auckland more expensive.

Perhaps this is a sly way of trying to get the Government to fund their events, given that motels are being state funded to house homeless and hard to accommodate people.

Stuff: Auckland Mayor Goff’s ‘bed tax’ passes 10-7

A controversial ‘bed tax’ will go ahead, with Auckland Council’s Governing Body voting 10-7 in favour of the proposal on Thursday afternoon.

It will see nightly room rates bumped up between $3-$6 for hotels and $1-$3 for motels.

The targeted accommodation rate will see hotels and motels charged extra to partially offset the cost of staging major events in the city.

Goff said it would free up $13.5 million of ratepayer funding which could be used to bolster transport and infrastructure.

He has previously said hotels and motels could pass on the cost to tourists as a surcharge.

“With the targeted rate on accommodation we are asking accommodation providers to meet half of the cost of tourism marketing and events which previously fell totally on Auckland ratepayers,” he said.

“It’s only fair that those who benefit directly from events that promote tourism share in that cost.”

But is it fair to make accommodation providers and visitors who have nothing to do with tourism promotion and events to pay to subsidise the events? No.

It seems to exclude other accommodation providers like holiday rentals, home stays and Airbnb.  Campervans are another popular mode of accommodation that escape the tax.

TIA chief executive Chris Roberts said it was based on bad information and a poor understanding of the workings of the visitor economy.

The commercial accommodation sector has repeatedly offered to work with the Council to find a fair and sustainable way to make an appropriate contribution to the city’s visitor and event promotion activities. That offer still stands.”

He said it could be a “considerable time” before accommodation providers knew how much they would have to pay.

Accommodation providers would be able to apply to the council for a rates remission, taking into account any forward bookings they might have, but there would be no guarantee, he said.

Has the cost of administering all of this been taken into account? It sounds heavily bureaucratic.

It seems to be a poorly and unfairly targeted tax on some accommodation providers.

Is this the best Phil Goff could come up with?

Differences over ‘tourist tax’

As usual Newshub got their weekend story out of  The Nation: Paula Bennett rejects calls for tourist tax (it wasn’t a story until Bennett said she didn’t support a tourist tax).

More than 18 million visitors come through the gates at Auckland Airport each year and Mayor Phil Goff says local government can’t cope with the tourism boom.

Instead, he says a tax could help.

“Ideally the Government could put on a bed tax across the country and a small arrival tax and share it amongst local Government – that would be most equitable,” he told Newshub.

But Ms Bennett has scuttled that, saying she’s not a fan. She says tourists already pay tax via GST, and she’s worried further taxes might deter travellers.

“We’ve got the best package in the world to deliver but we don’t want to be seen as a rip off,” she said.

Ms Bennett accepts there is pressure in some areas as a result of booming visitor numbers, but says it’s covered by the regional tourism fund, which has put forward $8.5 million to fund public toilets, car parking and freedom camping facilities.

And the story making has extended to other politicians.

But Green Party co-leader James Shaw disagreed.

“I don’t think New Zealand is going to be perceived as a rip off. It is an absolute premium destination, as you can tell from the visitor numbers,” he said.

Tourists already pay a border charge of between $22 and $26 and the Greens say that should be increased to help pay for infrastructure.

So there already is a form of a tourist tax, but the Greens support increasing it.

And NZ Herald joined in with Labour leader Andrew Little calls for tourist tax:

Labour leader Andrew Little wants a “tourist tax” charged at the border to help pay for tourism infrastructure, rejecting Tourism Minister Paula Bennett’s concerns it risked making New Zealand look like a “rip-off.”

Little said a “modest” levy would be ring-fenced to pass on to local councils to use on tourism-related infrastructure.

“We rapidly and urgently need new infrastructure and infrastructure upgrades targeted at tourists and the easiest and most efficient way to pay for it is just a border levy collected when you buy your ticket, and a mechanism to distribute it to local councils.”

Little said it would be simple to add the levy – since 2015 there has been a levy of about $22 to pay for border control added to the cost of a ticket. In its first five months, that had generated $27.72 million – well above the forecast income of $20.22 million.

That will be because of the boom in tourist numbers.

Tourists pay 15% GST on much of what the spend while in New Zealand. There is also a lot of tax generated in the tourism industry through employment (PAYE) and company tax.

And they also contribute to roading revenue through fuel tax.

While different opinions were extracted from politicians on this it is not likely to become an election issue if any tax was going to be an entry tax – not many international tourists vote.

But a ‘bed tax’ as suggested by Goff could be more contentious. It would be messy if it only applied to international visitors – would that be based on passports? Or country of residence?

It’s not surprising to see a mayor propose a Government imposed tax “and share it amongst local Government”, that would make rates rises a little less bad, but “that would be most equitable” is an interesting claim. Equitable for whom? The city where the biggest airport in the country is?

The administration (and cost of administration) of a bed tax could be an issue. There would be possibly substantial bureaucracy involved in collecting a bed tax and paying it out equitably to all the local bodies who want it.

Hotels and motels pay local body tax (called rates) as it is, why doesn’t Goff just increase the rates for hotels and motels and home stays?