Barry Soper: Tax hands Simon Bridges a stick to flay Ardern with

Author
Barry Soper,
Section
Opinion,
Publish Date
Wednesday, 6 March 2019, 7:00AM
National Party leader Simon Bridges.
National Party leader Simon Bridges.

COMMENT:

It's as though Simon Bridges is having the most pleasurable time of his political career, unwrapping his first birthday present which has many layers.

After a year from hell since being elected National's leader, the former Crown prosecutor hasn't had as much fun since beating Winston Peters for the Tauranga seat, thanks in large part to John Key saying he wouldn't work with the New Zealand First leader in government.

Bridges may have been forever grateful to Key, but he's even more thankful to Sir Michael Cullen for pulling him out of the doldrums, delivering the Taxation Working Group's report as a weapon to beat the Ardern Government with.

Between now and the end of next month Labour's going to be battered and bloodied while it makes up its mind on how much it's prepared to compromise to get Peters across the line.

Back in the parliamentary bear pit after the recess, Bridges was ranting about KiwiSaver and how taxing capital gains was going to hurt the long-suffering savers. That failed to fire with Ardern, who hit back with a juggling of the figures that weakened his argument.

Undaunted, the birthday boy hammered away about Ardern's lack of business experience even though she claimed to have some in her interview on Mike Hosking's Newstalk ZB show last week. She'd worked for small businesses and had run an NGO, she then claimed, which had Bridges lining up for the king hit: What was the non-governmental organisation she was laying claim to?

Clearly it was one Ardern didn't want to be reminded of and, doing what she's become good at, she avoided the question but waffled about working in small businesses.

It was meant to be the prosecutor's killer blow: Was the NGO the International Union of Socialist Youth, which Ardern was once the president of, he asked?

It was left to Act's leader David Seymour, fresh from his caucus meeting of one, to inflict the damage.

If the Government's taxation changes were going to be fiscally neutral, as it has claimed, Seymour wanted to know why make a tax system more complicated to get the same amount of revenue?

The first part of Ardern's answer has been well rehearsed: To make it fairer.

But the second part left the grizzlies in no doubt that change is on the way. Almost every member country of the OECD manages to deal with what's asserted to be a complicated capital gains tax, Ardern shouted above the din, then why can't we?

Overnight Talk

Overnight Talk

12AM - 5AM