OUR VIEW: Labour finally shows some teeth

OPINION
Labour will also be able to argue that the new policy will have positive flow-on effects.AT LAST, some signs of life from the Labour Party.
Labour leader Phil Goff's announcement this week that if elected to Government next year, the party would remove GST from fresh fruit and vegetables, is a good move, and one that is likely to at least help the once-proud party start to revitalise its sagging poll ratings.
In its last term in power, under Helen Clark, Labour faced all sorts of accusations of nanny-stateism, some of which stemmed from the controversial decision to ban school canteens from selling so-called "junk food" to children.
The public outcry came fast and furious, centering on allegations that the government was telling parents how to bring up their children and what they should and should not eat.
Mr Goff's latest move shrewdly avoids this problem.
Removing GST from fresh fruit and vegetables does not automatically force people to purchase the cheaper items.
It provides a financial incentive but the ultimate decision still rests with the consumer.
The move is also likely to gain some traction with middle New Zealand, which Labour up till now seems to have lost touch with, by tapping into the current societal enthusiasm for healthy eating and lifestyle choices.
The policy will also appeal to traditional Labour voters, many of who come from a working-class background and will appreciate the financial savings able to be achieved through cheaper prices for fruit and vegetables.
Labour will also be able to argue that the new policy will have positive flow-on effects, such as improving people's overall health, tackling the country's obesity problem and saving people money on doctor's visits.


Mr Goff's announcement comes at the same time as household spending is coming under scrutiny by many families - the Government's package of tax cuts takes effect tomorrow, but is coupled with a rise in GST from 12.5 per cent to 15 per cent.
However, it may be that Mr Goff has got it slightly wrong in the timing of his announcement.
Labour has long proclaimed that the Government's tax cuts package would mainly benefit those on higher incomes, and that lower-income families would not get much help from the changes.
Had Mr Goff really wanted to gain some traction, he may have been better to announce Labour's policy after the tax cuts and accompanying GST rise had been in place for some time, and some families were beginning to feel the pinch.
Rome wasn't built in a day and neither are Governments - this move is not a magical silver bullet that will solve all of Labour and Mr Goff's political problems.
However, it's a good start and does give the opposition the chance to finally take a real bite out of the Government.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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