Alf was jolted awake this morning by the babblings of a Radio New Zealand news reader.
This news reader earnesstly told the country:
Tax is back on the Government’s agenda for the start of 2010, with a tax working group due to issue its final report on Wednesday.
Back on the Government’s agenda?
When was it taken off the bloody agenda?
The issue was big deal when the government set up the working party in March last year and – Alf is assured when he raises the matter at caucus meetings – it remains big deal.
In speech after speech over much of last year, John Key and Bill English were banging on about the six key areas National regards as potential drivers of economic growth.
The Radio NZ hack who wrote the pap about tax being back on the agenda obviously failed to take notice, so let’s list them –
* Investment in productive infrastructure.
* Removing red tape and improving regulation.
* Supporting business innovation and trade.
* Improving education and lifting skills.
* Lifting productivity and improving services in the public sector.
* Strengthening the tax system.
Alf happens to have a copy of a speech Bill delivered on 17 November to the Institute of Chartered Accountants.
Taxation is one of our six policy drivers because of the pervasive influence it has on both the economy at large and on decisions made by individuals.
As we have said, New Zealand needs to lift its economic growth.
That’s all the more important with 60,000 people now on the unemployment benefit and with unemployment likely to continue rising well into next year.
We also need to increase household incomes so they can save, repay debt and, from the Government’s perspective, so it can get back to budget surpluses sooner.
This Government sees a simple, fair and efficient tax system that encourages New Zealand families to get ahead under their own steam as one of the key drivers of economic growth
Radio NZ’s political hack this morning went on to tell us the Cabinet has its first meeting after the summer break today. The report went on –
Prime Minister John Key has already identifed economic growth as the major theme for the year ahead.
Nope. No news there, either. Economic growth has been a major theme right from the start.
As to the tax working group, the reporter tells us –
Finance Minister Bill English says options put forward by the group will be looked at, but any tax changes will need to be close to fiscally neutral.
He says the tax system should promote work, investments and savings, rather than spending and borrowing.
For how long has he been saying this?
Alf was there when the Tax Working Group held its last public meeting early in December.
According to an NZPA report at that time –
Mr English said today any changes would have to be cost neutral, meaning revenue gained in any one area would be offset by reductions
So the fiscal neutrality stuff isn’t news either.
And as you can see from the quotes recorded earlier in this post, Bill was saying back in October – and earlier than that – New Zealand must lift its economic growth to increase incomes so householders can save and repay debt.
For political junkies like Alf, in short, there was no news in this.
But Alf did learn that Prince William’s visit to New Zealand concludes this morning with a visit to Wellington’s childrens hospital.
And the prince ended a full day of activities in the capital on Monday with a barbeque at Premier House.
Tuning in to the news wasn’t a total waste of time.
Alf promptly leapt out of bed, grabbed his Union Jack, stood proudly to attention, and played God Save The Queen on the family radiogram.
The record is getting scratchy. But so is Alf.