All news articles

All our news articles

Delivering news

What's being said

Delivery of policy

Metiria Turei speaks in the First Reading of the TAXATION (BUDGET MEASURES: FAMILY INCOMES PACKAGE) BILL

METIRIA TUREI (Co-Leader—Green): I just want to make a reasonably short call on this bill. This bill delivers tax cuts, which the country has said it does not want. Actually, what the country wanted was to see more money being delivered in services, in particular, and to the families who need it most. What we see with this legislation is a very meagre opportunity to provide additional funding to the families who need it the most, and the maximum benefit going to those who earn the most.

That is pretty traditional National. We know that. We saw that when it first came in. After the 2008 election, its first choice then, in response to the global financial crisis, was to give significant tax cuts to the very wealthy, and we are seeing that now as part of its attempt to try to win a fourth term at this year's election. Nobody is fooled by this. Everybody can see that that is what National is doing—that it has been, over the last 8 years, systematically eroding Working for Families, systematically eroding social services, education services, and health services.

Now it is crowing about delivering a tiny proportion of what it took from New Zealanders over that period of time, and it is trying to sell it as being a great advantage for working families when, in fact, working families will still continue to suffer from the effects of increased poverty, increased housing costs, and increased costs of living as a result of National's policy. I just want to demonstrate some of that here. As you know, those on the lowest incomes will be getting around $5 a week extra from the tax cuts from this—

Phil Twyford: Hallelujah!

METIRIA TUREI: Ha, ha! Five dollars a week extra, right? That is what they are going to be getting. That is what they will be getting. Let us just have a think about what that means, because one of the arguments in the legislation is that the Government is delivering this meagre little tax cut to the low-income earners because of high house prices. Right? That is how it is justifying it. Its members talk at length about the accommodation supplement as being one of the measures in this—it is not in the provisions of the bill, but it is in the description of the bill.

But what we also know is that National has been clearer and more upfront in the past about the risk of simply increasing the accommodation supplement. Just in 2015, it refused to increase the accommodation supplement, and its members said that they refused to do it because of "the risk of landlord capture of the assistance."

Phil Twyford: Well, well, well.

METIRIA TUREI: Well, well, well. So National knows that by increasing the accommodation supplement and doing hardly anything else in housing, all it is doing is transferring a mass of money—and we are talking $400 million over the 4-year period—from the public purse. That money could be used to actually build the homes that New Zealanders want, but instead, by delivering it through the accommodation supplement, National is giving to private landlords, over 4 years, $400 million more. That is what it is doing, and it knows it because it discussed exactly that—that there would be landlord capture of the accommodation supplement if it put it up.

So why would it be doing that? It is doing that because it thinks it can fool the country. It thinks that New Zealanders will be fooled by this—giving a little here but taking a great deal more over there. It is a swindle. It is a swindle. National thinks it can fool the country. The country has seen time and time again that National promises big and delivers little, and we still have increases in homelessness, we have still increases in house prices, we still have increases in rent, and we still have increases in child poverty. So nobody is going to be fooled by this little swindle that National is trying to pull with this.

But I would also just note that, along with this $5 tax cut that is being delivered, there are other things that are being cut that families really rely on. One of those things has been access to the home insulation fund. As we know, over a number of years now the home insulation fund has been a subsidy to help to insulate New Zealand homes, particularly for those who are on low incomes, in order to make sure that they are living in warm, dry homes.