Wednesday 30 April 2008

GST-off-food petition will continue until election

RAM - Residents Action Movement Media release 29 April 2008 In response to RAM's hugely popular petition calling for GST to be removed from food, parliament's politicians have spoken with one voice - "No!" Spokespeople from the Labour, National, Act and Green parties have dismissed the GST-off-food proposal as "too complicated", "simplistic", "populist" and so on. "What the politicians have in common is trying to turn a deaf ear to the vast majority of people in New Zealand," said Grant Morgan, chair of RAM - Residents Action Movement. "Over the GST-on-food issue we see a Grand Coalition of Labour-National-Act-Green politicians going to war against the wishes of people struggling to pay the bills." "That's why people are saying that 'the politicians won't listen to us'. We hear this over and over again at RAM stalls carrying the GST-off-food petition. It's a central reason why many hundreds are joining RAM in addition to signing the petition," said Grant Morgan. "Most people are so sick of not being listened to that they have contempt for politicians. Over the last few weeks, 1,200 of those people have become RAM members because we're seen as grassroots campaigners doing a good job around the GST-off-food petition." "RAM has pledged to work hard to turn GST-on-food into a big election issue. We have collected thousands of signatures in the few weeks the petition has been going." "RAM and our supporters will be carrying on collecting signatures until the election campaign, when our petition will be presented to all parties represented in parliament." "This issue will not go away despite the politicians hoping otherwise. The people are hurting. They are upset that the politicians won't listen. They are going to make their voice heard. You can bet on it." For more information, contact: Grant Morgan Chair of RAM - Residents Action Movement 021 2544 515 PO Box 13-157, Auckland


Vaughan said...

Monday April 28, 07:21 PM

Removing GST on food would be too complicated - Clark

Removing GST on food would make the system complicated to administer, Prime Minister Helen Clark says.

She also said today that lowering GST across the board was not an idea that has been floated in discussions on tax relief.

There have been calls to abolish GST on food, as families face increasing pressures from higher interest rates on mortgages, rising food costs and higher fuel prices.

A survey in The Dominion Post today revealed one in four New Zealanders are worried that they will not be able to meet their rent or mortgage commitments, while petitioners say they have already collected more than 3000 signatures on a petition urging the abolition of GST on food.

Miss Clark said New Zealand had been admired for more than 20 years for having a "comprehensive" GST system "without all the compliance cost and complexity of differentiating between some things which are GST-able and some things which aren't".

"There's no doubt that to do it other ways creates its complexity. When the Australian consumption tax went through, there was the debate about the cooked chicken versus the uncooked chicken. One attracting the GST, and the other not."

To remove GST on food would add complexity to the New Zealand system, which was simple to administer so was low on compliance costs.

"And therefore there'd obviously be considerable reservation about changing that."

Asked today whether the idea of lowering GST across the board had been floating during discussions on tax cuts, Miss Clark said she did not want to discuss details of next month's budget.

"But it wouldn't take a genius to work out that there's never been ideas of that kind floated," she said.

When GST was introduced more than two decades ago, family support was also introduced -- to compensate people for the effect of GST.

There was major tax reform at the time and the top tax rate of 66 percent, introduced by Sir Robert Muldoon's government, came down.

Family support was the system that Working for Families was built on.

Miss Clark said families were facing pressures.

"If their mortgage has come off a fixed rate of two or three years ago and they are paying more each month on that.

"Obviously there are items in the food basket which have increased quite significantly, even though overall inflation at 3.4 percent would still also be regarded as enviable in many parts of the world. And then fuel costs are high.

"These things are affected by international factors obviously but they do impact on the kiwi family."

Miss Clark said this morning that some tax relief would be announced in the budget "and I think it's going to be very, very timely for families".

The National Party has also said that rather than cut GST, it preferred to tackle the affordability problem by cutting income tax.

Vaughan said...

'Drop the GST on Food' call supported by Maori Party

Tariana Turia, Co-leader of the Maori Party and Health Spokesperson

Tuesday 29 April 2008

The Maori Party has welcomed the call for a wider debate about removing GST on food, sparked off by the latest grim report from the Child Poverty Action Group, 'Left Behind'.

"Desperate times call for bold responses ­ and that is what the public is wanting ­ not policy cowardice" said Mrs Turia.

"We need to be looking at the big picture ­ about how we can improve the health and well-being of our most vulnerable citizens, now".

"And yet what we get from Labour and National is that they have ruled out even talking about dropping GST from food with the excuse that it may be too 'complex' or 'difficult to implement'".

"What utter rubbish" said Mrs Turia. "Since when have good ideas been squashed because they may involve a bit of tricky policy thinking?".

"Being administratively challenging is not a good enough excuse to avoid being socially responsible" said Mrs Turia. "If there is a will, there is a way".

"National and Labour need to stop thinking up reasons why not and get to grips with the urgent crisis facing this nation ­how the social and income inequalities are damaging our children".

"We are not interested in playing a game of political point-scoring, heaping blame on the policy failings of the 80s and 90s - our focus is about investing in the future of this nation" said Mrs Turia.

"If we are serious about eliminating poverty, and caring for the well-being of our children, we must listen to the good ideas of the people and be prepared to do something about it".

"If it is so difficult, perhaps officials could talk to their counterparts in Australia or Britain to see how they have been able to achieve the goal of removing GST from food" ended Mrs Turia. Background

€ "CPAG tells us that tamariki are being 'left behind', deprived of material well-being due to insufficient disposable income, sub-standard housing, inadequate nutritious food and unequal access to health care".

€ "The Public Health Association has suggested the removal of GST from fruit, vegetables, bread and other cereals and milk is one way of responding to the long-standing health, educational and social disadvantage these children may suffer".

€ "The Manufacturers and Exporters Association (NZMEA) has said it would support the removal of GST on key food items; while the Residents Action Movement, has signed up more than 1000 people on its petition to abolish GST on food".