Coalition could ruin National's party

By Richard Moore

This is going to be a fascinating election and I reckon it is going to be a lot closer than many are tipping.

John Key and his Nats are dominating the polls, Phil Goff and his Labs are trailing badly, and the minor parties are jockeying to either become the major third party, or save themselves from oblivion.

The Brash boys of Act are in that last situation, and not far away are the Maori and Mana parties, which run the risk of destroying each other in a personal civil war that will do their people very little good.

Winnie the Peters is on the soapbox again and while it is impossible to get a straight answer out of him, many of his party's policies have some merit.

Everyone will like paying less tax, but all the other parties will claim that's their policy, too (but don't hold your breath folks).

However, NZF's proposal to take GST back to 12.5 per cent is good, removing taxes on taxes (GST on rates) is excellent and ridding the country of the ridiculous secondary tax will be a blessing.

Not selling the country's assets may be a big lifeline for Winnie and Co as many people who would never vote Labour may go to NZ First.

Asset sales will be a big part of this election as people I talk to are fed up with Governments deciding they can sell off things that they don't own. They forget they are merely the custodians of the assets that taxpayers have paid for.

I've never understood the worth of selling an asset anyway, particularly ones that give you an income.

Okay, you get a one-off pile of cash to do with as you will, but then your revenue is gone and unless you have paid off all your debts and don't borrow or spend any more then you will eventually be worse off.

The party that could make a significant leap to power-broking status is the Green Party.

The Rena's prolonged appearance off our shores has many Bay voters thinking environmentally and not wanting deep-sea drilling anywhere near our waters.

The problem for the Greens is that too many of them are also Red and if they could leave their social-engineering policies (such as no smacking) alone and focus on making this place clean and green then they'd double their votes.

Labour has come out swinging with Goff showing the biggest set of cojones seen on a politician since Australia's John Howard campaigned on introducing GST to the Great Brown Land.

Goff, often seen but rarely noticed, wants to raise the retirement age to 67, have compulsory superannuation, and have a capital gains tax.

All are potential pills for economic health, but will the public be able to swallow them?

The first will reduce government spending by heading off a giant blowout as Baby Boomers retire, the second will raise savings and the third will mean a new stream of government income from people who have so far passed under the taxman's radar.

That's got to be good for the rest of us.

There are enough Kiwis out there who think Labour's medicine may be bitter in the short-term, but worth trying.

This is where the face of New Zealand, Prime Minister John Key, may run into trouble.

On top of the world financial meltdown and slow recovery, his Government has been hit by a series of disasters that have further knackered the economy.

Christchurch has bled us dry, the much-touted benefits of the World Cup are dubious and the whole thing cost us taxpayers a fortune.

While the Government acted instantly on the Auckland transport fiasco during the Cup, its senior ministers moved like a herd of turtles when the Rena ran aground off Papamoa. That may not be forgotten by locals.

The problem for the PM this election is that even if Labour doesn't poll well a grouping of minor parties could unseat him.

He has ruled out working with NZ First and if they land more than 5 per cent of the vote that's five more seats a Labour coalition could have. Throw in more Greens and take away Act and the political numbers could be very, very close indeed.

We have an interesting few weeks ahead.

By the way, in 1998 John Howard became the first political leader to win an election campaigning on introducing a new tax - a 10 per cent GST.

Australians listened to the arguments for and against and made their decision in the interests of the nation.

Politicians here shouldn't underestimate voters' common sense.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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