Hone signing the GST off food petition launched by RAM in 2008
In his regular column Ae Marika! written for the Northland Age, Maori Party MP Hone Harawira gets mad, very mad, about the rise in GST (see below). And he's not going to be the only one when the GST increase comes into effect.
National's paltry income tax cuts for low-to-middle income people will be forgotten when weekly budgets get blown to bits by the GST hike, which will be compounded by these related factors:
- Retailers will undoubtedly try to increase prices a little extra on top of the 2.5% GST increase;
- The price of food is widely predicted to go through the roof this years as a result of global speculation in food commodity prices;
- Bosses citing the income tax cuts as a reason not to give decent pay increases.
by Hone Harawira, MP for Tai Tokerau
from Northland Age
25 May 2010
Speaking out against the increase in GST in last week’s budget wasn’t a hard call for me because the people who are going to be hurt the most by it are the people I grew up with, the people I live with, and the people I represent.
I don’t like being told I have to support something I don’t agree with and I don’t like being told to keep my mouth shut either, and even though our coalition agreement with National means that we have to vote for the Budget, I was pissed off that we weren’t speaking out against the GST increase when none of us supported it.
GST is a tax that you pay on nearly everything - food, petrol, electricity, clothes, schoolbooks, everything - and when you don’t have a lot of money to start with, every little price rise hurts.
I’m on a really good salary now, but I still do the shopping for our house, so I know how tight things are. I’m lucky though, because when prices go up I can still get what we need. But when you’re getting bugger all you don’t have that little bit extra. Your family just goes without.
My caucus colleagues don’t like the GST increase either but they argue that we’ve done too much to jeopardise it all on vote – two Ministers, a review of the hated Foreshore and Seabed Act, the Maori flag, Whanau Ora, the tobacco inquiry, support for the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People and a constitutional review – and neither Labour nor National would have done any of them on their own. They're all down to the Maori Party, and more to come.
But if you were to ask the simple question about whether the Maori Party would have supported an increase in GST, the answer would have been a loud NO. Since entering the house in 2005, we’ve given many speeches in defence of the poor, opposed tax increases, supported the GST Off Food petition, and even pulled Rahui Katene’s GST Off Food bill out of the ballot.
I suspect that if National had told us back in 2008 that they were going to increase GST it would have made us think twice about jumping into bed with them, but they didn’t. They dropped it on us after the deal was done.
And if there’s one thing I learnt from Tariana’s stand against the Foreshore and Seabed bill it’s that we shouldalways speak out on issues that affect our people. This is one of those issues.
Maori people have backed us in good times and bad, they stood alongside us even when they sometimes didn’t understand what we were doing and they voted for us because they believed in us.
We owe it to them to speak out against this GST increase. We owe it to them to fight for a better deal. And we owe it to ourselves to be stronger in the decisions that we have to make.
Visit Hone's website, go to www.hone.co.nz