Watch: 'Our policy is not to introduce that' – PM quizzed on possible wealth tax 'u-turn'

NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 2 May 2022, 4:16pm

Watch: 'Our policy is not to introduce that' – PM quizzed on possible wealth tax 'u-turn'

NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 2 May 2022, 4:16pm

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has ruled out talk of a possible wealth tax, saying "we've already said our policy is not to introduce that". 

Ardern is appearing in her first post-Cabinet press conference for three weeks. 

Ardern said gaps existed in the measurement of wealth, but emphasised the Government was not working on any new tax policies. 

She said the Government was asking if the tax system was working as intended, and fairly. 

"We've already set out what our policy for this term is. 

"Taxpayers would want to know that people are fulfilling the obligations they already have." 

'New Zealand is in demand' 

Today's media conference comes as the country today reopens to international visitors from around 60 visa-waiver countries for the first time in over two years. 

Like Australians already, they can now travel here without isolation if they are vaccinated and do a pre-departure and arrival test for Covid-19. 

Thousands of visitors are expected to arrive today from around the world. 

Ardern said travellers from the USA, UK, Japan, Germany, Canada, Korea and Singapore were now arriving in New Zealand. 

"At Auckland International Airport alone, 21 international flights are landing today." 

Ardern said these visitors were crucial to returning New Zealand to some normality. 

"The recovery has begun, and well ahead of our peak tourism season." 

Flights from Houston, Chicago, and New York were in the pipeline, the PM said. 

She said 18,000 visas had been granted since March 14. 

"We're currently seeing 33,000 arrivals per week," the PM added. 

"New Zealand is in demand." 

The Great Walks booking season had just opened, Ardern said. 

Work under way on whether unvaccinated permanent residents will be allowed 

On tourism, Ardern said no changes were planned in vaccination requirements, where currently unvaccinated citizens were allowed in but unvaccinated permanent residents were not. 

She said work was underway on whether unvaccinated permanent residents would be allowed in. 

Ardern said pre-departure testing overseas was a helpful way of boosting safe travel protocols. 

No plans for Kyiv visit yet 

When asked if she or any Cabinet members or Government leaders would visit Kyiv, Ardern said it was not a priority for Ukraine to have New Zealanders visit. 

"For us, it's about the right time to do that," Ardern said. 

She said it was important to ensure resources in Ukraine were not drawn away from the war. 

On MIQ High Court ruling 

On MIQ and the Grounded Kiwis court case, Ardern said it was clear the exemption regime was being reviewed. 

"Our attempts to make it fairer were found to have not made it better." 

Ardern said political engagement with overseas partners had continued during Covid-19 but face-to-face talks had not. 

An upcoming trip to the United States was a change to re-engage with American leaders in person, just as she'd been able to speak with Japanese leaders last week. 

Domestically, a Cabinet reshuffle was likely to happen before the next election, Ardern said. 

On sea level rises, Ardern said it was a complex matter figuring out how sea level changes would impact existing infrastructure. 

"It's really important [we] look not just at adaptation," the PM said, adding that New Zealand had to play its part to limit carbon emissions and take steps not to contribute to sea level rise. 

'Planning to move away from fossil fuel use' 

Ardern was asked about the future of coal in New Zealand, she said the country should transition away from coal. 

She said the Government was working towards more use of renewable energy. 

"We are planning to move away from fossil fuel use." 

The PM said in places where coal was mined, discussions would need to be had with local communities on how to handle this transition. 

Ardern has not fronted a post-Cabinet press conference since before her Singapore and Japan trip. 

Since then, there has been the High Court decision ruling that although MIQ was a critical component of the Government's elimination strategy, the combination of the virtual lobby and narrow emergency criteria meant New Zealanders' rights to enter their country were infringed. 

This morning Ardern also faced questions on taxation, after Revenue Minister David Parker last week started a national conversation on fairness in the tax system and potential for a wealth. 

On Newshub's AM Show today, Ardern reiterated her pledge not to introduce a capital gains tax while she was Prime Minister but did not rule out a wealth tax, saying Labour was yet to form its 2023 tax policy. 

In the 2020 election campaign, Ardern was asked if she would resign as Prime Minister if her government did implement a wealth tax and replied: "I won't allow it to happen as PM." 

That had come after questioning about the Green Party's policy for a new 1 per cent tax on those with a net wealth of more than $1million.