Election 2011: Peters aims to treble exports with 20% tax rate

By Derek Cheng

NZ First will keep state assets and plans to reverse Maori separatism in Govt systems. Photo / Christine Cornege
NZ First will keep state assets and plans to reverse Maori separatism in Govt systems. Photo / Christine Cornege

New Zealand First is basing its election platform on policies to treble export-led industries, which would provide enough new tax revenue to fund a bevy of policies such as universal student loans and tax cuts, including no tax on the first $100 of income a week and cutting GST back to 12.5 per cent.

Its other main messages include keeping state assets - including buying back the privately owned shares in Air NZ if economic circumstances permit - repaying debt and reversing what the party calls the dual separatist systems in justice, social services and for the foreshore and seabed.

At the centre of its tax policy is a 20 per cent tax rate for new market discoveries for export, eventually moving to 12 per cent over time.

Party leader Winston Peters said logging, for example, was one of the country's biggest exports, but all the processing was done overseas.

"If you've got football fields of logs sitting on wharves to go to other economies to create hundreds and thousands of jobs and billions in wealth, why isn't it done here?

"If you say to an investor, 'This is our tax policy if you start this enterprise up, and here are the tax breaks', they would start tomorrow.

"We'd have new players coming in, all paying 20 per cent tax, and I'd have new taxpayers and employers who were not employing before."

Mr Peters would like all exporters to be paying 20 per cent tax eventually.

"You've got to make it worth their while. Our objective is to take all exporters to that rate. There wouldn't be too much of a lag time heading out to treble exports, and that's where our future lies."

He wanted a company tax rate of 27 per cent - deliberately higher to create an incentive for export industry growth.

He wants to peg Government spending on research and development to 2 per cent of GDP - but with harsh penalties as a deterrent; in 2010 it was 0.34 per cent.

"You can apply for [an R&D tax break], but if we catch you or your accountant or your lawyer lying to the department, you're off to prison for 10 years."

Other help for exporters would be a flexible monetary policy aimed at keeping the exchange rate in check.

The extra revenue from taxing new export industries would cover expensive policies, including scrapping secondary taxes on rates, savings and on a second job. Mr Peters does not want a return to the 39 per cent personal tax rate, but supports a $15-an-hour minimum wage and the first $100 a week of income to be tax-free.

His tertiary education policy includes a universal student allowance - at an estimated cost of $728 million a year - and a dollar-for-dollar write-off scheme for student debt for every year graduates stay in New Zealand to work.

It also includes more research grants, linking them to Crown research institutes, and capping tuition fees, eventually moving to zero fees.

The other main message Mr Peters has hammered is what he calls the separatist road New Zealand is on.

"We have two prison systems, two social welfare systems [with Whanau Ora], two flags, two education systems."

Part of the issue is the foreshore and seabed, which he says will pass ownership from all to a select few. He said the former 2004 act was a fairer solution.

Mr Peters is against the Emissions Trading Scheme, which he says is flawed because it is based on profit-driven speculation.

The party's justice policy is to reward prisoner community service by cutting sentences by a quarter.

"White-collar guys are going to be out there six days a week getting stuck in - cleaning up the creeks, cleaning up the rivers, cleaning up the whole environment."

He also wants to scrap concurrent sentences for rapists and murderers.

Mr Peters also wants to lock the age of superannuation eligibility at 65, and to a level no lower than 66 per cent of the average wage. He would also introduce a law so these changes cannot be turned back without a 75 per cent majority vote in Parliament.

- NZ Herald

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