Don Brash's 2025 Taskforce made a range of recommendations about how our economy could catch up with Australia.
Its ideas, which included slashing Government spending met with widespread condemnation.
Leon Wijohn, Maori business accountant, is one of a range of New Zealanders approached by nzherald.co.nz to share their thoughts on how we can shorten the gap.
Leon Wijohn - Maori business accountant:
In closing the gaps between New Zealand and Australia, we first need to agree what gaps we really want to close. That dialog should include men, women and Tangatawhenua broadly representing all Kiwis.
There is a perception that Don Brash's (2025 Taskforce) team is indirectly sponsored by the Act Party (as part of their coalition agreement with National).
I randomly asked other Maori for their thoughts, following the release of the Taskforce's first report. Surprisingly some said: "What report?" Others said they could have copied bits from his earlier workings and only charged $40,000.
So what gaps? Let's make sure that New Zealand is a better place to live, a country that helps and respects its people, especially those needing extra care. We need a "clean and green country" not a "clean and green image".
We all want a fair and simple tax system that helps businesses succeed and encourages Kiwis to give things a go.
Let's agree to stop kicking those who are down. This includes some Maori, solo-mums, those on sickness benefits, students and retired pensioners.
Don Brash's team want to cut funds to all those sectors. Gareth Morgan's approach would give every adult a "Kiwi kick start". The amount needs to be calculated after taking into account GST increases (say adults $200 per week and children $100). My parents got a deposit for their first home by capitalising their family benefit. That would help end child poverty here.
Gareth also favours a capital gains tax, which is gathering acceptance. Others argue that we already have a tax on capital, called rates. My family has multi-owned land that is not commercial and it is in areas with no council services.
We have had land confiscated in the past for not being able to pay the rates or survey costs. Farmers will be given exemptions. We need to be careful that other property owners do not lose their properties. I would prefer to simplify existing rules around property development and trading. This would include a tax on all gains obtained if the property is sold in the first 5 years. A gradual tax would apply in years 6-15 and no tax if the property were held for more than 15 years.
Company and trust tax rates should gradually come down to 20 per cent. This would encourage us to invest in and grow businesses based in New Zealand.
If the rate went down to 15 per cent over time, investors would definitely choose New Zealand ahead of Australia for doing business.
Personal tax rates may not need to change straight away.
We are way behind Australia with our Kiwi saver. The Aussies are investing here. Foreign investment is useful. However, the Government needs to continue moves towards keeping more funds and profits in New Zealand.
As an example, almost all our banks are Australian owned. Most of the profits go overseas. The IRD have won a few cases lately arguing that the banks are ripping us off in New Zealand.
GST does need to go up but it needs to be kept simple. Exempting food will only increase compliance costs. Unfortunately, calculations need to be done to determine if 15 per cent is high enough. Gareth's theme is better than Don Brash's but the mix still needs more consideration.