GST petition presented to Parliament

A 40,000-signature petition calling for GST to be removed from food has been presented to Parliament. File photo / Thinkstock
A 40,000-signature petition calling for GST to be removed from food has been presented to Parliament. File photo / Thinkstock

Inclement weather today did not stop tax campaigners from presenting to Parliament a 40,000-signature petition calling for GST to be removed from food and a tax placed on financial speculation.

Tax Justice coordinator Vaughan Gunson had intended to join campaigners from as far afield as Whangarei and Dunedin to hand over the petition on the steps of Parliament to Labour's Mangere MP Su'a William Sio, who would then present it to the House.

But he was unable to fly into Wellington and the petition was instead handed over by Wellington campaign organiser Grant Brookes.

Union representatives, Green Party co-leader Russel Norman, Mana Party leader Hone Harawira, and Maori Party MPs Rahui Katene and Te Ururoa Flavell also attended the handover.

"It was great to see them willing to receive our message and to present it to their colleagues in Parliament, and we certainly conveyed our views fairly and strongly,'' Mr Brookes said.

He said polls showed most people wanted GST off food, while he thought people were of the feeling that the wealthiest New Zealanders did pay their fair share of tax.

Mr Brookes was hopeful a broader Tax Justice coalition could emerge, which he said was achievable given the breadth of organisations present today.

Mr Harawira said any move to bridge the wealth divide and reduce inequality was worthy of support.

"GST is a tax that targets the poor because they don't have much money to spend, and nearly everything that they spend gets hit by GST,'' he said.

"On the other hand, financial speculators deal in millions of dollars every day on the world's financial markets, and don't pay anything.''

Labour Party leader Phil Goff this morning said his party supported removing GST from fresh fruit and vegetables, but had not budgeted for changes beyond that.

"We have a fiscal situation that would limit the amount of work that we would be able to do in that area.''

- NZPA

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