Does National have a plan for cutting taxes and raising incomes?

The AM Show 03/07/2019

The National Party's new Finance spokesperson says cutting down excessive regulation and reducing costs to families will be his key points of focus if he becomes Finance Minister after next year's election. 

Last week, former Finance spokesperson Amy Adams announced she would stand down from politics at the 2020 election and immediately resigned from her shadow Cabinet portfolios.

Paul Goldsmith has taken on the important role and told The AM Show on Wednesday that if becomes the minister, he would act to ensure costs to families don't rise significantly. 

"As Finance Minister, you really need to come up with a good plan to continue to grow a more productive economy so you can get higher incomes [and] to focus on reducing the costs for New Zealand families," Goldsmith said. 

"It is all very well if you double your income, but if the cost of important things are going even faster, then you are going backwards."

He criticised the Labour-led Government's decision to reverse National's proposed tax cuts, implement a fees-free policy for tertiary students, and introduce several new fuel excise taxes.

Goldsmith said National was still deciding on how it would adjust the fees-free policy away from its current form.

"We haven't made the exact, final decision, but yes.

We don't think it is a very useful use of money.

Last month, the Government announced funding for the fees-free policy would be reallocated as the policy wasn't meeting initial forecasts. Instead, $197 million will now be redirected to implementing the Government's reform of the vocational education industry.

National's tertiary education spokesperson, Shane Reti, has previously said that 80,0000 learned were forecast under the fees-free policy, but only around 50,000 took it up. 

But Education Minister Chris Hipkins has defended the policy as delivering on the Government's promise to make tertiary education more affordable.

On fuel taxes, Goldsmith said a National Government he was Finance Minister in would repeal the Auckland Regional Fuel Tax and not introduce any further fuel excise taxes, such as the 3.5 cents per litre increase that came into effect on Monday.

Transport Minister Phil Twyford has previously defended the increase in excise tax as necessary to overcoming infrastructure deficits and required to fund road safety improvements. The previous National Government also introduced fuel excise taxes.

Goldsmith said taxing the public was "part of what politics is about", but Governments needed to be smart in how they spent that money. 

"A big part of what politics is about is about essentially taking a lot of money from people and spending a lot money, and so who you take it from, how you take it, when you take it, and how you spend it, and how you effectively you spend it, are big parts of what politics are about," he said.

You should take what you need, and no more.

"You should be very careful about how you spend it."

The National Party has also suggested linking income tax to inflation. This would mean that tax thresholds are adjusted every three years to keep tax in line with the cost of living. The Treasury would advise the Government on how much it should be adjusted for inflation.

Goldsmith also wants to look at dialing back excessive regulations, such as by reforming the Resource Management Act and reviewing health and safety laws.

"The health and safety laws were ones that we brought in and I think we need to just make sure we haven't gone too far."

The AM Show / Newshub reporter Jamie Ensor