Dear me. David Cunliffe has only himself to blame for a very bad week on the campaign trail. Labour wants to introduce a capital gains tax so "people who make money speculating on the housing market and other assets have to pay tax on that income, just as people who work for their income do".
Fair enough. I think most people would agree that investors with multiple houses and flats should pay their fair share of tax. Labour insists the family home will be exempt, as will personal assets, collectibles, small business assets sold for retirement. Pay-outs from retirement savings schemes, including KiwiSaver, will be exempt.
Again, that seems reasonable. However, it's all very well having a policy but you have to sell it. Cunliffe came unstuck when John Key asked him in the leaders' debate this week whether family homes in trust would incur a capital gains tax when sold.
There was a deathly silence, then Cunliffe attempted to deflect the question. The Prime Minister persisted but the Labour leader was unable to give a straight answer until the next morning. Family homes in trust would not incur the tax, said Cunliffe decisively and forcefully - 24 hours too late.
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He went on to accuse the Prime Minister of "gotcha" politics. A question on capital gains tax was hardly "gotcha" politics. Cunliffe was asked a direct question about one of Labour's key policies. Then, in an interview with Larry Williams on NewstalkZB, Williams asked Cunliffe whether the tax would apply to children who inherited the family home. "Ah, no," said Cunliffe, "not if they manage to sell the house within a month."
All night, upset talkback callers railed against the heartlessness of forcing grieving children to flog off their childhood home while their parents were still warm in the ground. One elderly woman, in tears, said the only thing that enabled her to accept help from her adult children was knowing that when she died, her home could be sold and the profits divvied up by the kids. I pointed out that the tax would be just 15 per cent of the increase in the house's value but she was having none of it; the house belonged to her children, not the Government.
The next day, Cunliffe said he really meant - well, kind of, you know, some time. It was for an expert advisory group to work out the details. Seriously? One of your main policies and when it comes to details of timing, the best you can come up with is whenevs? Cunliffe is better than this. But he's running out of time to prove it.
• Kerre McIvor is on Newstalk ZB Monday-Thursday 8pm-midnight
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