A good appearance from Phil Goff on the first Q+A of the year. I liked this part especially:
Guyon Espiner: You spoke in your speech a lot about tax as well, and again you returned to that equity and fairness argument, and I want to quote from that, you said “too many people on good incomes avoid and evade paying taxes”. Now I’ve looked through the MP’s Register of Pecuniary Interests, and I see you don’t have a family trust or a trust listed there, so I presume that you personally do and always have paid the top tax rate.
Phil Goff: I’m in the top tax rate, I’ve always paid every dollar in tax that I’ve been required to pay and I’m proud to pay that tax because that’s how we fund our education and our health system
Goff is pointing out a very important fact, one that the money-pinching Right misses. Tax is the way we pay for a decent society. Without tax we couldn’t have public schools and universities, which broaden our young people’s minds and make for a more highly-skilled workforce. We wouldn’t have a public health system that ensures people get healthcare regardless of their ability to pay. We wouldn’t have the Police, the Army, DoC or any of the other organisations that underpin our society. We would have massive abject poverty, especially amongst the elderly, but thanks to taxation we have a world-best elderly poverty rate of just 4%. These things need to be paid for and those who have taken the greatest financial benefit from our society and government are the ones who can and should pay the most to maintain it.
Later in the interview, Goff says the government must “… make sure when you distribute the benefits of tax change, it doesn’t just go to the privileged few” and he says supports moving up the income tax brackets. That’s a fair way to handle income tax. You counter bracket creep with incremental increases in the brackets. You don’t cut the rates. That just delivers massive windfalls to the wealthiest, many of whom are already tax cheats, and nothing to the rest of us. As for what to do with the revenue generated from a land tax or, whatever new tax on property Key introduces if he is brave enough, I still think the fairest thing to do is use that money to fund a tax-free bracket.
It was good to hear Goff firmly rule out supporting a GST hike too. Key will be on the losing side of popular opinion if he goes ahead with it, and that will give Labour a real opening.
Goff is doing very well so far this year (the Q+A panel were impressed by the change too). He needs to just keep to and expand upon the principles he,Labour, and working Kiwis believe in – the ones found in ‘The many not the few’ – and keep plugging away.