New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has signalled support for cutting taxes during a speech to a business audience in Wellington today.

He said the party wanted a designated unit within IRD to work on a simpler tax system for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).

The party had a team working on policy for cutting tax rates whilst expanding the tax base and collecting tax which is currently not paid by multinationals.

"We are not waiting for some nebulous OECD report on this," he told the Chamber of Commerce.


"We intend to take action as a priority and because more businesses in New Zealand will be paying tax, your tax rates will come down, not go up."

Peters said the party would be announcing a comprehensive range of policies to support businesses.

While National was "full of window dressing" about how it valued the market and private enterprise, in practice it did little to support SMEs.

He said it was dangerously short-sighted for New Zealand to be reliant of two sectors, dairying and tourism.

They were to some extent in competition with each other and they could not be expanded indefinitely.

"Tourists coming to New Zealand are not coming to see cathedrals and medieval town centres," he said. "they are here to experience the natural environment and that environment is easily damaged and spoilt."

The tension between the two sectors needed to be faced squarely and planned for "if we are to create sustainable tourism and dairy sectors for the long term."

Sound economic policy was needed to build a diversified and resilient economy.


New Zealand First would use tax policy to support growth of SMEs.

"Specifically we support increasing the automatic depreciation threshold for SMEs investing in business assets, for example computers, plant and machinery and tools."

The party wanted automatic approval for tax deductibility for assets costing up to a specific amount, which would be announced soon.

"Small business can then apply a monetary quantum up to a set value in any one year."

That would increase the cash flow, cut red tape and allow owners to concentrate on their businesses.

Peters also said the costs of strengthening buildings to meet the earthquake code should be tax deductible - otherwise many building owners would be abandoned in cities and towns around the country.