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Heather du Plessis-Allan: Don't blame Winston - Labour killed off CGT

Heather du Plessis-Allan ,
Publish Date
Sunday, 21 April 2019, 9:28AM

Let's stop with this nonsense of blaming New Zealand First for killing off the capital gains tax.

NZ First didn't kill it off. Labour did.

Labour killed it off the moment they stopped fighting for it. And that was pretty much the moment Labour got into Government.

Labour gave up on this policy long ago. They euthanised it through neglect.

If they really wanted to introduce a capital gains tax, they would've fought for it.

Why didn't Jacinda Ardern try to convince the public about this tax? Apart from one short statement in a post-Cabinet press conference last month, I can't recall any passionate defence of the CGT from her. Ardern was AWOL in the debate. She loves a good Facebook Live. Where was the eight-minute Facebook Live explaining why it was her answer to New Zealand's inequality?

Ardern is one of the most gifted communicators of her generation. She could've sold the CGT to New Zealand. Or at least tried.

Instead, she palmed that job off to Sir Michael Cullen. The Government paid him $1000 a day to take the heat on the CGT. He was never going to be a convincing salesperson.

Then look at what happened the day after Ardern killed off the tax. She didn't front up for early morning radio and TV interviews. She left the mop-up job to Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Revenue Minister Stuart Nash. Her office says she was leaving the more detailed questions about next steps to them. I think she clearly wasn't prepared to take any more heat on it. She mic-dropped and walked away.

Labour voters have a right to feel cross at this backdown. They voted for a party that swore by a CGT. For three terms Labour said a CGT was crucial. And then, when the party got the chance, they lost their nerve. Labour has sold out their own voters.

Ultimately, Labour didn't care enough about those voters. Labour had to choose between upsetting their own voters or upsetting the centrist voters who hate the thought of a CGT. Labour chose to burn their own voters. Labour would know their own supporters have nowhere to go apart from the Greens, and what is that if not a vote for a left-wing government led by Labour anyway? Angry Labour voters are trapped. And they should feel let down.

And so much for being a transformational government. Ardern and Robertson can call themselves transformational all they like but at the first opportunity to really transform the country they ran a mile.

What's transformational about this Government? Child poverty is worse. Homeless numbers have increased.

They say they've delivered but they haven't really delivered much. Sure they've handed out free university education and the winter energy payment, I'll give them that. Middle-class white kids send their thanks, as do all the retired couples in Remuera and Khandallah who enjoy the help paying their electricity bills.

Let's see this for what it is. It's a retreat from a policy that Labour must've known would make it harder to win the 2020 election. This is a cynical political decision.

You know how you know that? Because Jacinda Ardern didn't just rule out a CGT this term while NZ First is still there to oppose it. She ruled it out for the rest of her leadership. If she really believed in a CGT, and really wanted to do it, she would have left that door open to try again once NZ First are out of the picture. She'd have done that if she really wanted a CGT.

Labour will be grateful that we're all blaming NZ First for this backdown. It means they don't have to take the blame themselves for doing something I suspect they have wanted to do for a while.


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