Kerre Woodham: Nats run out of petrol

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John Key's Government has clearly run out of ideas about stimulating the economy. Photo / NZ Herald
John Key's Government has clearly run out of ideas about stimulating the economy. Photo / NZ Herald

In what should have been a lovely, relaxing wind-down to the year, I found myself getting wound up instead.

Normally, talkback in the week before Christmas is full of callers ringing in with lovely stories of family get-togethers and their own personal Yuletide traditions, and we wish each other well for the holiday season. Nice, warm, fuzzy stuff.

This year, however, the news of a fuel tax hike on the same day the Remuneration Authority announced a pay rise for MPs - backdated to July 1, what's more - had us incensed.

Bill English said he needed to impose an extra 3c a litre on petrol six months from now because he wanted to meet his target of a surplus by 2015. Growth has slowed right down, mainly because of rising unemployment, hence the tax.

I thought John Key said that by cutting income tax rates we would be able to stimulate the economy. Guess that didn't work. I thought Key said that he would be able to stem the flow of New Zealanders to Australia by building a competitive economy and offering after-tax earnings on a par with those across the ditch.

Well, that hasn't worked, either.

There are now more people moving to Oz under National than there were under Labour. But instead of 'fessing up and conceding nothing the Government has come up with has worked, the Prime Minister has produced a classic example of Orwellian double-speak.

Akshally, says Key, moving to Australia is a GOOD thing for New Zealanders to do. They'll see the world, gain experience - no, just like everything else, Key is comfortable with the numbers of Kiwis farewelling this country.

Well, I'm not. Why can't he just concede that this politics lark is a darn sight more difficult than he thought it would be? National was voted in because they promised voters they had the answers. They'd be a breath of fresh air. They were business people who knew a thing or two about making money, not academics who'd spent most of their lives in ivory towers.

Well, they may know how to make money for themselves but they don't seem to have any answers when it comes to making the country richer.

If, after four years of government, the best strategy they can come up with to produce a surplus is to raise the fuel tax, they are devoid of initiative and bereft of imagination.

Prices will rise because of the increased cost of transportation so the fuel tax will affect everyone in this country, not just motorists.

And don't give me that nonsense about needing the money for roads of national significance - most roads of national significance are tolled. So we already pay a fuel tax. That will be increased. And then we pay a toll. Fabulous.

There are those who say it's only going to be an extra $3 a week for motorists - not even the price of a cup of decent coffee. That just shows how wide the gap between the haves and the have-nots has become. Many people on low incomes haven't been inside a snazzy cafe for years.

Why doesn't the Finance Minister ask his parliamentary driver to use the fuel card to fill up the Beemer and take him for a drive to areas where people are really doing it tough? I'd like to see him tell those people that an extra $156 a year coming out of their pockets is neither here nor there.

I really hope 2013 is the year that National stops blaming the country's poor performance on the recession and starts coming up with the innovative initiatives they promised us.

- Herald on Sunday

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