By Dr Muriel Newman
In his State of the Nation address earlier this month, National’s new leader Christopher Luxon claimed New Zealand has a cost-of-living-crisis.
At first the Prime Minister denied it. But after a One News political opinion poll showed Labour trailing National, she embraced it, announcing an immediate 3-month 25 cents a litre cut in petrol tax, and blaming international forces and the war in the Ukraine for our troubles, rather than her management of our economy.
A breakdown of the price of a litre of petrol shows that once GST is applied, government taxes and levies make up around half of the price at the pump. Just over 70 cents in excise tax goes into the National Land Transport Fund to be used by the New Zealand Transport Agency for roading and public transport subsidies. In Auckland an additional 10c Regional Fuel Tax is earmarked for projects to reduce congestion. An ACC levy accounts for 6c, a Local Authorities Fuel Tax 0.66c, a Fuel Monitoring Levy 0.6c, and the Emissions Trading Scheme carbon tax is now almost 20c a litre.
In 2019, a report by the Productivity Commission outlining the sacrifices New Zealanders would need to make to achieve Jacinda Ardern’s vanity project of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 predicted the carbon tax on petrol would increase to around 55 cents a litre. New Zealanders are only now getting a taste of the pain that’s in store once the harsh economic penalties planned by Labour and the Greens – under the pretext of saving the planet – start to bite.
In his speech, Christopher Luxon outlined how families are struggling to cope with skyrocketing inflation: “The facts are stark – we have a cost of living crisis in New Zealand. Inflation is at a three-decade high. With prices rising twice as fast as wages, Kiwi families are worse off than they were 12 months ago. Food price rises are the highest in a decade, petrol has hit more than $3 a litre, and rents are through the roof. And if you want to buy your first home, forget about it. The average house price is up almost $400,000 under Labour. Rising interest rates mean interest costs on a $600,000 mortgage are up $7200 in the last 12 months, and they’re only going up from here.”
He made the point that while increasing government spending to support the economy might have made sense back in 2020 as the country recovered from lockdowns, it doesn’t anymore. Even though inflation is rising strongly, and excessive government spending will make the problem worse, Labour is planning a record $6 billion of new spending in this year’s Budget.
So, while Labour doubles down on a tax and spend strategy, National is pledging to lighten the load on families by cancelling all of the new taxes introduced by the Ardern Government. That means ending the 39 percent income tax rate, cancelling the proposed new job insurance and light rail tax, the regional fuel tax, the bright line test extension, and resuming interest deductibility for rental property owners.
National is also calling on Labour to adjust income tax thresholds in the Budget to address bracket creep. Based on the last four years of inflation, they want the 0.5 percent tax rate to apply up to $15,600 instead of $14,000, the 17.5 percent rate to start at $53,500 instead of $48,000, and the 33 percent tax rate to kick in at $78,100, rather than $70,000.
The ANZ is predicting tough economic times lie ahead: “The outlook for economic activity is souring. Living cost pressures are extreme. And there’s more inflationary pain to come, with global developments adding more petrol to the fire, and the Omicron outbreak adding to labour scarcity. Inflation is now running laps around wage growth, meaning households are going backwards at an alarming rate. Meanwhile, many businesses are facing reduced demand as people stay home, and the housing market softens.”
Food prices, which rose 6.8 percent in February compared with a year ago – with fruit and vegetables increasing 17 percent, meat, poultry, and fish 7.1 percent, and other groceries 5.4 percent – could rise by as much as 22 percent over the next year according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, as the war in the Ukraine impacts on crucial grain and fertilizer supplies.
National’s tax cuts, estimated to cost $1.7 billion – just over a quarter of Labour’s planned Budget spend – would allow New Zealanders to keep more of their own money to spend as they see fit, rather than watching on as this socialist Government wastes more and more public money on ill-advised policy choices.
And that’s the problem. Almost every policy introduced by Labour has been a failure and has come at a considerable financial cost.
Just this week the Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission reported that in spite of Labour’s highly publicised $1.9 billion investment in mental health in Budget 2019, “improvements in services have not materialised”.
Labour’s promise to build tens of thousands of affordable homes was such a fiasco it became a national joke. Meanwhile the waiting list for State houses has skyrocketed from 5,000 in 2017 when they became Government to 26,000, with more than 10,000 New Zealanders now living in emergency accommodation in motels and hostels. Costing more than a million dollars a day, leaving families with children cramped in “temporary” accommodation for years on end is creating social dislocation and the ghettoisation of neighbourhoods – at a time when motels will soon be needed for tourism.
Labour’s soft on crime approach – epitomised by Jacinda Ardern giving $2.75 million to the Mongrel Mob – has led to a dangerous explosion in gang violence.
Yet instead of targeting the gangs, the Prime Minister’s much-vaunted 2019 crackdown on firearms following the Christchurch tragedy only affected law-abiding gun owners. Furthermore, her new system has left 2,700 applicants waiting more than a year for a firearms licence.
The new compulsory New Zealand history curriculum released with great fanfare last week by the Prime Minister will indoctrinate all New Zealand children with the radicalised political propaganda of the Maori sovereignty movement.
Labour’s obsession with the Maori language is destroying trust in the public service as official communications are increasingly being produced in pidgin English, which inhibits understanding, erodes accuracy, and damages public confidence in Government institutions.
Labour’s ban on offshore oil and gas exploration has undermined New Zealand’s energy security, at a time of increasing global instability and heightened risk.
By turning the mainstream media into a government propaganda team of $55 million, Labour’s Public Interest Journalism Fund is destroying public confidence in the media.
Instead of allowing the use PPE – which kept everyone safe before vaccines were available – Jacinda Ardern’s decision to break her election promise and introduce illegal vaccine mandates has divided society, destroyed families, crushed basic human rights, and created such serious financial hardship that many New Zealanders will never trust the Prime Minister or her Government again.
Furthermore, as New Zealand turns into the world’s Covid hotspot, with everyone now knowing someone with the virus, the Prime Minister’s commitment to keep New Zealanders safe is in tatters, and the 400,000 former National voters who supported her at the last election, are finally seeing the error of their ways and are returning “home”.
With the PM’s ‘magic’ fast disappearing Labour is now in full panic mode, swiftly side-lining unpopular policies in the hope of digging themselves out of a grave.
Prime amongst those is their disastrous hate speech laws, as this week’s NZCPR Guest Commentator Dr Bryce Edwards, a politics lecturer at Victoria University and director of Critical Politics, explains:
“The Government has delayed the introduction of its fraught hate speech law reforms, and there’s strong speculation they’ll remain on ice until after the next election. In fact, they may never see the light of day again. This is a win for those who have argued that the reforms are likely to be counterproductive, impinging on human rights, including political freedoms and speech.
“Famously both the Minister of Justice Kris Faafoi and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern were unable to adequately defend or explain their new rules last year, which gave weight to the argument that they were dangerous and knee-jerk… The fact that the voices of dissent crossed the political spectrum from left to right, meant Labour had real pause for thought about persisting with the reforms.”
Whether falling poll ratings will also force Jacinda Ardern to abandon her He Puapua agenda – to replace democracy with tribal rule by 2040 under the guise of “co-governance” – remains to be seen. Since voters were not informed about He Puapua until after the 2020 election, all associated law changes – including Three Waters and the Pae Ora racial segregation health bill – are illegitimate and should be scrapped.
It’s ironic that the Prime Minister is introducing these racist laws at a time when polling shows Maori are deserting Labour in droves – it seems they don’t like the Maori Caucus’s plan to enrich the iwi elite any more than the rest of us!
So, what can we learn from the abject failure of the Ardern Government?
Firstly, Labour is the crisis.
While most independent commentators are now predicting they will suffer a massive defeat at the next election with many “safe” electorates likely to fall – see HERE – what could save Labour is MMP. If they form a coalition with the extremists in the Green Party, and the racists in the Maori Party, they may yet again win the Treasury benches.
But if Labour is a disaster now, just imagine how much worse things could become if that three-headed behemoth was in control. Such a spectre serves as a grim reminder of how governments can turn rogue and how important it is to ensure public safeguards are in place.
That means strengthening democracy at every level to protect New Zealanders from over-arching State power and Government abuse.
That includes bolstering the Bill of Rights, which was introduced in 1990 to protect New Zealanders against the unbridled power of government. However, in the face of a panicked response to this latest pandemic by the Prime Minister, it proved no match for her authoritarianism, as, for the first time in our history, inalienable liberties and freedoms were suspended – including Parliament itself.
Furthermore, as New Zealand stands on the cusp of the Government using their majority power to force unmandated law changes through Parliament – which will pass control of the country’s crucial water infrastructure and health services to iwi leaders – it is clearly time direct democracy safeguards were introduced to enable the public to step in and prevent what Labour is planning to do.
In fact, the whole concept of giving the iwi bosses of multi-million-dollar private tribal business development corporations power over the lives of other New Zealanders is so totally outrageous that it reveals just how dangerously misguided Jacinda Ardern really is.
Government without the consent of the governed is tyranny.
To prevent legislation being pushed through without a mandate, New Zealand now needs a 90-day ‘People’s Veto’ – similar to the democratic protection enjoyed in a majority of US States. A ‘People’s Veto’ would enable the public to challenge new laws through a binding referendum process – as long as sufficient support for a veto petition is collected within 90 days of the law being passed.
A New Zealand People’s Veto would work in a similar fashion to the Maori ward petition rights that Labour abolished last year, and could easily be introduced through simple amendments to our Citizens Initiated Referendum legislation.
Under a People’s Veto, if Jacinda Ardern rammed through her unmandated Three Waters and Pae Ora legislation, petitions to repeal the law changes would quickly gain sufficient support for binding referenda to be held, so these racist laws could be thrown out.
Jacinda Ardern is reminding us, not only that governments cannot be trusted, but of the importance of ensuring democratic safeguards are in place to protect citizens when their governments go bad.