With hints that regional fuel tax could be put on the “go slow” list, along with parts of the emissions trading scheme, it seems like we shouldn’t take any policy on taxes for granted. For example, there’s a belief that National and Labour have consensus on not removing GST on food. A couple of comments from inside National circles got me thinking though. In search of an answer the most decisive thing I can find from Key is:
One of the big issues with GST on food for example, is while it’s conceptually a nice idea it is difficult to implement.
This is textbook Slippery John: non-committal enough to give the pollsters time to check the numbers with a nod to pragmatism.
Of course National’s pursued politically expedient policies before under the guidance of strategists like Crosby and Texter. Remember their desperate flip-flops on petrol tax as the election was drawing to a close in 2005?
Brash kicked it off with the flip: “We have got absolutely no plans to change it”, Key chimed in: “At this stage we are not planning a change”. Then came the Brash flop: “We see the modest, temporary reduction of excise I have announced today as the fair and sensible short-term path to take.”
It’s another flip-flop that’s got to be at least a little bit tempting for a party that has willingly traded on its principles in the past.