Matt McCarten on politics

Matt McCarten is a Herald on Sunday political columnist

Matt McCarten: Yes minister, even Kiwis from Struggle St can count

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Waitakere City Mayor Bob Harvey. Photo / Glenn Jeffrey
Waitakere City Mayor Bob Harvey. Photo / Glenn Jeffrey

Taxes went up 2.5 per cent per cent on goods and services on Friday. The average grocery trolley will probably clip you another $5 on what you paid for the same stuff last weekend.

That's on top of increases in ACC levies and other charges slipped through at the same time.

Finance minister Bill English seems unruffled by Phil Goff's "cunning plan" to remove GST on fresh fruit and vegetables.

Maybe he's caught on, like everyone else, that it's a gimmick by Labour, panicked that the Nats seem to be publicly unassailable no matter what they do.

Labour is in a difficult position. Goff, when a minister in the Lange Government, was a proponent of GST.

The fact is both major parties support the regressive GST that raises money off middle and low-income people to fund tax cuts for the wealthy.

The spin by English that everyone will be better off reminds me of the lies told by the architects of GST back in the 80s. Does English think we don't know how to count?

Labour estimates the break-even point at $40 a week. Even the dimmest of us can work out that if the changes are "neutral" and English got a personal weekly $143 tax cut while most of the rest of us got around $15, then all that's happened is that struggling Kiwis just handed another $25 a week to the rich.

Wouldn't it have been more equitable to have introduced a flat, $40-a-week tax cut for everyone? The rich wouldn't have minded and the Kiwis from Struggle St would have been deeply appreciative.

Such a move would be an economic stimulus plan that kept people spending and working. Instead, this GST rise will slow spending and increase unemployment.

The truth is that the economic agenda that's been promoted by the political and corporate elites for more than two decades was never about what's good for ordinary people.

It's about an infantile ideology that if we look after the rich then somehow their "trickle-down" leftovers will benefit us all. Aargh.

And mentioning bad memories, what the hell is Waitakere Mayor Bob Harvey up to?

He's come out in support of the corporate bagman Alex Swney against the leading progressive politician in Auckland, Mike Lee.

Was this the price Harvey has to pay for Rodney Hide appointing him to a cushy retirement job as chairman of the Auckland Waterfront Development Agency? It's clear that the corporate agenda to sell public assets such as the Ports of Auckland needs Lee out of the way.

Thirty pieces of silver is the standard historical price for treachery. I hope the good people of the Waitemata and Gulf don't fall for it.

Or is Harvey's role more personal? You may remember a plot a while ago where Harvey made a secret offer to the other three main mayors where, rather than have one Supercity, they'd carve it into three.

Harvey promised to transfer the top half of his "beloved" Waitakere to North Shore and the rest to Auckland City, on the condition they named him lord mayor.

Lee blew the whistle on this backroom grubbiness. A vain man thwarted seeks revenge? Stay classy, Bob. Or would you prefer we call you Lord Bob?

Now I've got that off my chest, the two people who have impressed me are John Banks and Len Brown.

They have given us a real mayoral choice. No one was going to be perfect.

There are two styles. Banksie, the decisive leader who'll "get the job done"; and Brown, the team player who'll find consensual solutions.

So take your voting papers off the fridge right now. If you don't do it now you'll forget.

If you don't know who you're voting for go to my website supercitypicks.com

If you're on the centre-left consider my recommendations. If you're on the right of politics then vote the opposite. The important thing is to vote.

Whoever wins, they'll get three years to prove themselves and then we'll have another chance.

And that's how it should be. Good luck to all the candidates.

- Herald on Sunday

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