Duncan Garner: Winston Peters could kill off capital gains tax

Opinion 20/02/2019

By Duncan Garner, The AM Show host.

OPINION: You've no doubt heard the phrases, "if you find yourself in a hole, stop digging", "quit while you're behind" and "stop digging your own grave".

They all apply to Labour who had the chance to kill off talk of a capital gains tax (CGT) at the last election. But, the captain called it, and Jacinda Ardern may yet come to regret her captain's call to keep a capital gains tax alive now the sugar hits the fan.  

This comes down to idealism, probably misguided, verses political reality and risk. Ardern and her right-hand man Grant Robertson clearly support a CGT despite overwhelming evidence it is complex, won't raise much money, nor curb house prices. 

It'll be the main recommendation in Labour's tax working group report out tomorrow - a hand-picked group of wonks and a knight overseeing it. 

You won't regard him as having shining armour once you heard what he says. 

Former Finance Minister Sir Michael Cullen backs a new capitals gains tax, how brave.

Cullen had nine years in office to do this, but did nothing. Labour judged staying in office was more important that being kicked out on a point of principle.  

Jacinda and Grant, you could say, are either more principled or naive or frankly just have a political death wish.

New Zealanders overwhelmingly don't like the idea of being taxed for selling the bach, the business or the beamer. 

But this is Labour's plan, and it thrusts one man back into the limelight - Winston Peters. He will milk this for all it's worth. He's suddenly relevant, powerful and he can kill it off.

Peters does not support a CGT. He can't back this, but he might seek a compromise tax, something else.

What is it? What's the price now? Standby New Zealand.

Duncan Garner is the host of The AM Show.