Greens – wealth tax, top priorities versus bottom lines

This may be little more than semantics given how malleable election promises and committed bottom lines are – Winston Peters in particular has a record of asserting bottom lines during an election campaign that disappear from coalition arrangements.

MP Julie Anne Genter said at a small business panel discussion the a wealth was a “bottom line” for the Greens if they were to join into a second Coalition government with Labour.

But co-leader James Shaw has followed up saying it would only be a top priority, and Greens don’t do bottom lines.

Newstalk ZB – Wealth tax ‘a bottom line’ for a Greens-Labour government: Genter

The Greens election policies include a plan to make Kiwis with a net-worth greater than $1 million, pay 1 per cent of their wealth to the government as a tax.

Those worth more than $2m would pay out 2 per cent of their wealth as tax.

Greens MP Julie Anne Genter today told a Newstalk ZB small business panel discussion the tax policy was a “bottom line” condition that must be met for her party to join into a second Coalition government with Labour.

However, Labour MP Stuart Nash quickly rejected the idea, saying Labour would not be introducing a wealth tax.

“[A wealth tax was] off the table,” he said.

Genter defended the wealth tax, saying it would only affect the wealthiest 6 per cent of Kiwis.

“Any sensible economist knows that we cannot carry on with the status quo. There is a tiny percentage of New Zealanders that would be affected by this tax – they are the top 6 per cent wealthiest New Zealanders,” Genter said.

“It’s not an individual who owns a $2m house and has a $1.5m mortgage.

“Tax reform has to be a bottom line, this county is not going to be better off if we continue to allow the wealthiest people and the wealthiest New Zealanders to accumulate more and more wealth.”

However, Labour’s Nash said Treasurer Grant Robertson had ruled out imposing any wealth tax.

“As the Revenue Minister, I have had a look at a wealth tax and I think it is very, very difficult to implement,” he said.

“It’s on unrealised gains, which make it very difficult for people to pay who are asset rich, cashflow poor.”

Robertson has already emphatically ruled out the Green tax policy – tow weeks ago Grant Robertson categorically rules out adopting Greens’ tax policy if Labour is re-elected

Grant Robertson has categorically ruled out adopting the Greens’ tax policy if Labour is re-elected, but James Shaw says he’s prepared to walk away from forming a Government with them if a wealth tax isn’t adopted. 

“Reforming the tax system and ensuring that people have their basic living costs met is one of the highest priorities that we are taking into this election campaign,” Shaw told Newshub. 

National Party leader Judith Collins says that’s the Trojan horse that will storm through Labour’s “no more new taxes” if elected policy. 

“The Labour Party having released its tax plan has not ruled out doing deals with the Greens on more asset tax or anything else,” Collins said on Thursday. 

Except Labour’s finance spokesperson Grant Robertson did when Newshub asked him if he could categorically rule adopting the Greens’ tax plan. 

“Yes. This is Labour’s tax plan that we announced yesterday and I said very clearly yesterday that is what we will implement in Government,” Robertson said. 

His message is don’t even bother bringing it to the negotiating table. The only tax Robertson will add is Labour’s higher tax rate of 39 percent on income over $180,000.

“I can’t be clearer than what I’ve been,” he said. 

But Shaw seems optimistic. 

“There is the small matter of an election to go,” he said. 

And if voters send the Greens back to Parliament, Shaw says they won’t accept a raw deal. 

Newshub asked Shaw if he would walk away from negotiations if the Greens don’t get their tax plan and if he will sit on the cross benches outside Government. 

“It’s always a possibility,” he said. 

Robertson said he heard Shaw say yesterday that it was a top priority and not a bottom line. 

Though it appears he didn’t run his hard line by the boss. 

When Labour leader Jacinda Ardern was asked if she would flex to the Greens, she said, “In the aftermath of the election we deal with what the voters give us.”

That is what you call wriggle room. 

So Labour seems to have a position of a wealth tax of definitely no, maybe.

In reaction to Genter’s assertion it would be ‘a bottom line’ in any coalition negotiations Shaw has pulled Greens back to maybe.

RNZ: Wealth tax not a bottom line for Green Party but they will push for it – Shaw

Green Party co-leader James Shaw says one of his senior MPs misspoke under pressure when she said a wealth tax was one of the party’s bottom lines.

Shaw told Morning Report: “It’s a heat of the moment thing and that happens during these debates” and said the extended election campaign was taking its toll.

“People are getting tired and I think she was just pressed on the point.”

She did not accidentally “tell the truth”, he said.

Earlier this month Shaw and party co-leader Marama Davidson told RNZ they had absolutely no bottom lines.

Shaw put it like this today: “At every election we lay out a series of priorities and say ‘how many MPs do we have and are we in a position to negotiate?’

Shaw says the Greens aren’t making the tax a bottom line because “when we get into negotiations we have got to see what the result of the election is. And it’s as simple as that”.

But they will be pushing for it.

“[Tax] a top priority and we have said that. We want to make sure people have enough to live on. We know that Covid-19 has exposed those pre-existing inequalities in our society. Actually the stimulus is making those things worse because the capital is flowing through wage earners and towards asset owners, so it’s driving up house prices, and we’ve had a record close on the NZX even while the median wage has fallen.

Whether or not it becomes a bottom line depends on how many people vote for the Greens, Shaw says.

“That is ultimately the situation we are in. We want to ensure that the next government is led by Jacinda Ardern again, that the Greens are part of that government and that we are able to ensure that it is as transformational a government as possible…

“We are pushing for [tax], we are pushing to significantly expand the state home building programme… we are pushing for significant action on climate change, for sustainable farmers… and so on.

“We will be putting all those things on the table with Labour after the election and saying ‘What can we do together?’.

Obviously first Greens have to get back into Parliament. If they do it their negotiating position will depend a lot on whether Labour have a majority on their own, in which case they will be able to do what they like, or if they need the Greens to form a government, which will give the Greens a stronger hand in coalition negotiations.

But even then any agreement would have to be approved by the Green Party membership.

So top priorities and bottom lines should be taken with a grain of salt.

The top priority for all parties is to get as many votes as they can, which means saying whatever they think will attract support.

After the election policy horse trading and power position negotiations will override specific policies.

I’ve seen some interesting reactions on social media – first applause for Genter appearing to show some strength in having a bottom line on a wealth tax, and then anger that Shaw had watered the Green position down.

One example was Martyn Bradbury who posted Oh sweet Jesus – why BOTHER with the bloody Greens!

This morning I woke truly refreshed brothers and sisters.

I finally knew who I was going to vote for.

The beautiful Greens.

It had happened at the most unexpected moment.

Yesterday, the mighty Julie Anne Genter told a small business panel discussion that a bottom line for the Greens to go into Government with Labour would be their wealth tax!

It was extraordinary!

FINALLY there was a reason to vote Green!

They had brilliantly, for the first time in 3 years, realised that to play politics, you gotta throw a fucking punch!

………and then this…

Wealth tax not a bottom line for Green Party but they will push for it – Shaw

Green Party co-leader James Shaw says one of his senior MPs misspoke under pressure when she said a wealth tax was one of the party’s bottom lines.

…ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING!!!!

WHAT ARE YOU DOING?

THIS IS THE REASON TO VOTE FOR YOU YOU FUCKING CLOWN!!!

WHY ARE YOU NOW WALKING AWAY FROM IT?????

They need to go. Just go now.

These people are fucking muppets.

Bradbury has been a political yoyo lately and this response is more emotive than most but similar sentiments have been expressed elsewhere.

While Ardern seemed to leave the door slightly ajar to Green tax policy the equivocation from Shaw pretty much guarantees that it can’t be a Green bottom line, so it will have to be a top priority, apart from the higher priority of getting back into Parliament of course.