Goff, Gunson, GST and grub – a challenge is laid down (and Labour is likely to leave it there)

A great challenge has been thrown down to the Labour Party, as the lefties chug around the country to pose and posture on tax matters without much reference to the trade-offs that would give us a better tax system by raising some taxes while lowering others.

Hoping for headlines to remind people of their existence, the Labourites are touring the country in the “Axe the Tax” bus opposing plans to lift GST from 12.5% to 15%.

But here’s the challenge –

Vaughan Gunson, spokesperson for RAM-Residents Action Movement, says: “If the Labour Party really wants to “Axe the Tax”, then they should support the campaign to remove GST from food.”

This RAM outfit launched their campaign to have GST removed from food back in 2008.

Close to 30,000 people signed RAM’s GST-off-food petition in the lead- up to the 2008 General Election.

But is that a big-deal number?

Alf reckons it works out at 0.7% of the country’s population.

If you go out into the community, try to whip up a fuss about the cost of food, but persuade less than 1% of the populace to give a shit, Alf would keep quiet about his lack of accomplishment.

But you can count on some bugger in the ranks of the parliamentarians to want to strut out to receive such a petition.

In this case it was – guess who?

Maori Party MP Hone Harawira received the petition on the steps of parliament. The Maori Party remains the only parliamentary party to support GST off food.

Gunson obviously recognises he is unlikely to budge Phil Goff.

But he will give it a go.

“Phil Goff has said that Labour won’t support Maori Party MP Rahui Katene’s private members bill to take GST off healthy foods,” says Gunson.

“But I’m sure when Mr Goff speaks to Grey Power in Whangarei tomorrow there’ll be many people in the audience who would like to hear him reverse his stance. Retired people – particularly those on low incomes – were among the staunchest supporters of removing GST from food.”

“With everyone’s grocery bills getting higher and higher, taking GST off food would make a big difference to a lot of people in these tough economic times,” says Gunson.

“The tax revenue lost could easily be replaced – and plus some – by introducing a Robin Hood Tax,” says Gunson.

“A Robin Hood Tax is the name a popular campaign in Britain has given to a Financial Transaction Tax (FTT), which aims to make the banks pay more tax.”

Gunson invites us to give more thought to a Robin Hood Tax (“an idea whose time has come”) by reading some recent articles by John Minto, Finlay MacDonald and Barry Coates.

Alf regards none of those as economic giants.

Nor would he invite any of them to the Eketahuna Club for a noggin and a chat.

He is busting, however, to see Labour’s response to this –

“Here’s a challenge to Phil Goff and the Labour Party,” says Gunson, “why not keep the axe out and support the campaign to remove GST from food, and endorse the Robin Hood Tax as an alternative. This would be a decisive step towards tax justice, which the majority of New Zealanders would welcome.”

Goff (lest Alf’s readers be at interested) is on a tour of Northland and will be speaking today to a Grey Power meeting (1.30 – 3.30pm at the Kamo Club, 13 Meldrum St, Kamo, Whangarei).

Vaughan Gunson says he will be available for more comment at the meeting venue.

Alf has a mate in those parts who is keen to arm anyone who wants them with soft, pappy tomatoes.

There should be enough to hurl at Gunson (an irritating agitator) or Goff or both.

Oh, and if you happen to be thinking about Labour’s reputation as the party that supports poor people, remember this: the fourth Labour government introduced GST.

It has stuck to GST ever since, supported its increase from 10% to 12.5%, and has increased a raft of indirect taxes such as those on alcohol, tobacco, petrol and drivers’ licence fees.

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