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Goff on Q+A

Written By: - Date published: 7:49 am, February 1st, 2010 - 38 comments
Categories: phil goff, tax - Tags:

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.

38 comments on “Goff on Q+A”

  1. Jenny 1

    It would be even better if Goff had admitted the wisdom of the Maori Party’s private members bill to remove GST from food, and as well as declaring his support for this bill, in a friendly way, challenge the Maori Party to come out openly against any moves by National to increase GST which they know will hurt their support base.

    This would help mend the breach between Maori Party and Labour, and drive a wedge between them and the Nacts. This could be a much better strategy than declaring sectarian hatred and declaring with a statement about a campaign to drive the Maori Party from parliament, which in my opinion as well as being a waste of time and energy, when Labour should be concentrating on the Nacts, would only ensure that Labour remains in opposition in an MMP environment.

  2. fizzleplug 2

    I hear the “GST on food should be removed” argument a lot, but what I have trouble with is the definition of food.

    The last thing we want to do is have a GST system like Australia.

    • Lanthanide 2.1

      I think one fairly clear and useful delineation would be to cut GST on fresh fruit and vegetables. If it’s included in some sort of processed food, then it wouldn’t count.

      Gets a little tricky with the bags of salad greens vs salads prepared in a deli (what if it’s a pasta salad? Does it get GST?), but overall I think there are fewer issues than the “food in general” category, and also helps to make home-prepared meals cheaper than ones that come from packets.

      • fizzleplug 2.1.1

        Even here there are issues though. Why should fresh beans have a tax break over frozen beans?

        It’s a legislative and administrative nightmare.

        • Bright Red

          in theory it’s only the value added to food that attracts the GST and other countries do it. But yeah, pretty complicated.

    • SHG 2.2

      ^^^ this.

      GST in Australia is nuts.

  3. Gooner 3

    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.

    So that’s why Cullen never moved the brackets. By not doing so he has forced tghe cutting of the rates, allowing Goff to argue this is purely for the “rich”.


    • felix 3.1

      Of course Key could’ve just shifted the brackets…

    • Draco T Bastard 3.2

      Last time I looked, Cullen did move the brackets. Probably a little later than he should have but he did move them.

      Cutting the top tax rates while increasing the tax rates on the poor and middle classes really is cutting taxes purely for the rich.

      • Herodotus 3.2.1

        He threathened to move the brackets and on a 3 yearly bases & to shift them up by the CPI, but as an afterthought he thought better of this budget promise. Especialy as it was adding over a $b extra into his treasure chest p.a.
        I also find your reference to anyone earning over $70k as being rich as this equates to an income of $52k which is on par with the average household spending (and many in this group also benefit from WFF so rich I think not). Perhaps being more specific in applying the “rich” term could bring an increase of support, as I am sure teachers, nurses, police etc do not consider themselves to be part of this filthy rich tax dodger sector?
        Lets also not forget the elderly, as I have not heard anything about them yet I have the upmost respect for those in later life surviving on a pension, and for many I can only conclude that they are just surviving.

        • Draco T Bastard

          I also find your reference to anyone earning over $70k as being rich

          I didn’t. Most people on $70k would pay more tax under the TWGs recommendations. People like JK and the CEO of Telecom would have their taxes cut.

          • Herodotus

            “Cutting the top tax rates while increasing the tax rates on the poor and middle classes really is cutting taxes purely for the rich” I was referring to this comment, admittedly on a very literal basis, as those on 70K enter this same top tax bracket that you have referred to. Just had a very black/white moment!!
            I think for any one commented on many “in” topics lately there is no definition of what rich, livable wage, middel class etc are. There is a common agreement on the 66% of average income as being below the poverty line, personelly I think that this figure is also a bit light to be able to experience life above a basic existance level applicable within NZ.

    • Bright Red 3.3


      1) Cullen did move the brackets

      2) “By not doing so he has forced the cutting of the rates” explain how not moving brackets makes cutting rates necessary.

  4. I thought Goff performed really well. He was sharper, more concise and his answers generally hit the right buttons. I hope he keeps this up. This year so far he has been very impressive.

    I always opposed the removal of GST on food. Settling on a definition will send the public service into a frenzy. And when a middle class couple settle down with a $40 bottle of wine why shouldn.t they pay four times as much tax as a couple having 6 cans of lion red? Ditto for the cost of a meal at Sails verses Pizza hut.

  5. Peter Bilson 5

    I trust Phil will get his coleagues to drop their tax avoinding Trusts, otherwise it will look as do as I say not as all of my colleagues do.
    Goff came across better but he needs to stop attacking people who have worked hard to get a salary well above the average.

    MS – I agree with GST being as is, it is the best GST system in the world bar none, Singapore based their GST system on the model bc of this.

    Gooner – did you enjoy the spanking at the Emitrates this morning? I did being MUFC fan.

    Happy Ann. Day, even if the weather is crap.

    • PT 5.1

      goff said “singaporese” in the interview, so stupid, foreign/trade minister for nine years and doesn’t even know what a singaporean is and he said 3,500 people lined up for jobs at supermarket, so stupid goff. this is goffs problem, he makes up numbers on the hoof, not good with detail

    • Bright Red 5.2

      I thought there were legitimate uses for trusts other than tax avoidance? At least, that’s what the right keeps saying.

    • Kevin Welsh 5.3

      Wait till you get to Anfield… 🙂

  6. grumpy 6

    Paying all the tax one is “required to pay” is meaningless.

    There are any number of strategies aimed at minimising the amount one is “required to pay” so that the actual tax bill Phil is faced with could be bugger all.

    Let’s see his actual tax returns so everyone can see the veracity if his “claim”.

    • Fair call. After John shows us his I think Phil should do the same. They could even do it at the same time. What is the bet John has more to hide?

      • PT 6.1.1

        so predictable savage, keep pushing the h fee scandal you jerk

      • grumpy 6.1.2

        I am sure that JK pays every cent that he “is required to pay”. Just as I am sure he has a lot more mechanisms than Phil to make that amount as low as possible.

        That is the point, what sort of idiot would pay more than they “have” to?

  7. Herodotus 7

    So Phil is confident that all his caucus “are paying the pay all the tax that they should be” that is not saying that they are not min the tax that they pay. So perhaps some are not paying their full share. Also that the Lab caucus are not big income earners !!! Get me a tui. Sorry Phil where is the connection with us rich earners paying the top tax rate with family incomes approaching 70% of your caucus members. As I have said many times Politicians do not even know what is a livable wage in this country. From my perspective to ther left Get your party to connect not just make user friendly statements.

  8. I’m shocked that eddie would be so positive about Goff’s performance!

    Keeping Colin James comments in mind, I still can’t see Labour getting back next time, especially with Goff in charge. National slept walked to victory and still has 18 months to continue to develop the key players (boom, boom) – bearing in mind that many had no experience of being ministers.

    IMO there’s two problems with Goff. First, he’s last century’s man (Nats would have a similar problem with English in the hot seat). Second, he’s a centrist trying to appeal to the left rather than trying to win the centre.

    The other problem is Key. He is the Nats greatest strength in the same way that Clark was Labour’s ace. The left hate Key for the same reasons the right hated Clark. Goff is no competition for Key (avec or sans bike) and until there’s a viable challenger to Key, Labour will struggle to get back in.

  9. Morgan 9

    Although Goff has been a credible performer as leader he lacks broad appeal and in that respect he is no match for Key. I also feel Eddie is been pretty charitable in his praise for Goff. He made no mistakes but your not going to see people running back to Labour.

    However, there is hope if Goff stays on message with “the many, not the few” and manages to quietly expose National as the hollow men that they are.

  10. Dancr 10

    Good comments from the panel I thought re: the interview. For example –
    THERESE I think there was an opportunity for Phil Goff to lead from the front, I mean people complain he’s not dynamic he’s not charismatic, but he is substantive, he is smart, and you know I really am frightened that he’s taking that old French saying of you know there go the people I must follow them for I am their leader, approach to leadership, when the speech really I thought was an opportunity to try to set the agenda for the year, and I would have made it very much about the budget that’s coming up, education and jobs.
    for the full text

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