- Date published:
8:25 am, December 2nd, 2020 - 73 comments
Categories: drugs, greens, housing, jacinda ardern, Judith Collins, labour, national, poverty, same old national, stuart nash - Tags:
Two recent stories shows out of touch National is with the aims and aspirations of young people. And given that young people voted in record numbers last election they could tactically be viewed as bad decisions, putting to one side the respective merits of the issues involved.
The first involves providing pill testing services at music festivals to make sure that pills young people are in possession do not contain the really nasty life shortening substances that some have contained.
I posted about this last summer and said this:
Summer is the season for music festivals, and kids doing what they have done for ever, experimenting with stuff.
Occasionally the results are catastrophic as a young person gets their life traumatically shortened either through a drug overdose or because they have tried a dodgy batch of something.
This is why the topic of allowing participants to test what drug they have in their possession has been topical and is important.
In Europe the service is regularly available. In Portugal for instance the decriminalisation of the personal use of drugs has meant that this can be treated purely as a health issue.
In Australia there has always been this hand wringing about the issue with critics saying that it will normalise and increase drug taking amongst the poor. But sense has prevailed and the first festival testing service has been conducted. And the test suggests that the service provides educational as well as safety benefits.
Then Police Minister Stuart Nash supported the service. But New Zealand First opposed the policy arguing that the policy represented some sort of slippery slope and it absolved young people from taking responsibility for their decision making. Which no doubt dying from an ingesting a pill from a dodgy batch validates.
This was even though the youth wing of New Zealand First managed to get a remit supporting pill testing passed at their 2019 annual conference. Young political activists rock.
Fast forward to now and with a majority Labour Government and support from the Greens, and good old libertarian Act as well as the Maori Party and passage of legislation introducing the service legally is pretty well inevitable. Expert medical opinion is strongly in favour. And the last time opinion was tested, as far as I can tell, three quarters of kiwis supported such a measure.
So what is National going to do? Well oppose of course.
Each claim can be debunked. The availability of the test is a reminder that drugs can be dangerous and rather than give a false sense of security it can and will save lives. And it will cause young people to reflect on the downside of drug taking. And drug taking amongst young people is trending down.
But out there in conservative land there is a social construct of what is happening that does not match reality. And that has to be fed and nurtured. So National’s response is not unexpected.
The second story where National is on the wrong side relates to the housing crisis. Yesterday in Parliament Jacinda Ardern suggested that the Government was reviewing options to deal with the crisis. From Zane Small at Newshub:
The Prime Minister is confident that exploring changes to the property investor tax – or bright-line test – is “absolutely the right thing to do” despite Labour ruling out a capital gains tax.
Jacinda Ardern was hit with questions in Parliament on Tuesday from Opposition leader Judith Collins over the recent rapid rise of house prices – up 20 percent on last year – and how the Government plans to tackle it.
Labour promised during the election no new taxes or any further increases to income tax except for a new top tax rate of 39 percent on income earned above $180,000. Ardern also ruled out introducing a capital gains tax or wealth tax.
But Newshub revealed the Government is not ruling out an extension to the bright-line test – the tax on investment properties. It means if a property is sold within five years, capital gains are taxed at the owner’s income tax rate. The family home is exempt.
“You’ll have seen during the course of the election that we were very clear that obviously, a capital gains tax was not in our consideration. We equally ruled out any measures around a wealth tax,” Ardern said in Parliament.
Ardern said anything beyond those taxes is “purely hypothetical” but she confirmed the Government has sought analysis on the impact the bright-line test is having in the market and whether changing it could help stabilise house prices.
“In this current environment, it is absolutely the right thing to do. We need to know what levers are and aren’t making a difference to house price increases.”
To be frank I do not think that a further increase to the bright line test will have much effect. At 5 years it is already a long period. Clearly people and companies have adjusted their behaviour to avoid paying tax by the simple process of holding onto houses for longer.
Clint Smith has thought about the issue and said this:
Grant Robertson has said the government will look at new measures it could take on the demand side – ie discouraging investors and speculators – while not going back on the election commitments Labour made ruling out things like capital gains tax, wealth tax and a land tax.
Extending the bright line test further is no good. It runs into diminishing returns and the justification that it’s to stop people flipping homes gets more and more tenuous the longer you extend it.
Broadening the first home grant won’t help. It costs quite a lot of money per family it’s helping, and it’s ultimately adding net demand to the market, pouring more petrol on the fire, which will increase prices.
He then makes these proposals:
His most interesting idea is to change tax laws so that home owners as well as landlords can claim tax benefits on mortgage payments to a capped amount. The current tax deductibility for landlords of interest payments provides a major distortion. Reducing the benefit and letting home owners share in the benefit is a very interesting idea and should be considered further.
Of course National will oppose meaningful change to address the housing crisis as it will meaningful change to protect our young people. On both issues it is on the wrong side of what is best for young people and on the wrong side of dominant public opinion. I hope its political incompetence continues.