It would appear that we are shifting the burden of taxation from the people who can pay it to those who can’t. For those at the top income level, there are ways and means of claiming the GST back – they can set up trusts, they can increase rents, they can make the end user pay. But for those at the bottom level, there is no other place they can claim the money back from.Katene who is the sponsor for the Goods and Services Tax (Exemption of Healthy Food) Amendment Bill, repeated her party’s call for GST to be removed from healthy food. And for the first $25,000 of income to be tax free. She also expressed Maori Party support for “a minimum wage of at least $15 an hour”. Despite this, Katene and the other Maori Party MPs look likely to vote for the increase, as part of their “confidence and supply” agreement with National. The central issue appears to be the “compensation” the Government says it will pay to pensioners, beneficiaries and low income workers with children (through Working for Families), and the promise that low income workers will get tax cuts as well as the wealthy. However, such measures will provide short term relief at best. As prices continue to rise, compensation will be eaten away. A 2.5 percent increase in GST will continue taking money out of our pockets forever. Economic justice for the majority (e.g. the the 70 percent whose incomes are less that $40,000) means opposing a GST increase and tax cuts for the rich and all other moves that shift “the burden of taxation from the people who can pay it to those who can’t.” It means campaigning to take GST off food, to reduce taxes on the working poor and increase taxes on wealthy individuals and corporations – who’s ultimate source of wealth is the exploitation of workers and the natural environment. Through their support for taking GST off food, the Maori Party have made a stronger contribution to this campaign than any other party in Parliament. They should stand by this commitment and refuse to support National’s GST hike.
Above: Hone Harawira, Maori Party MP for Te Tai Tokerau, signing RAM’s the GST-off-food petition at the Kaitaia Markets