- Date published:
9:07 am, September 21st, 2023 - 7 comments
Categories: business, conservatives, economy, Economy, election 2023, national, tax, uk politics - Tags: Christopher luxon, Liz Truss, nicola willis, NZ National Party, tax
A year ago this month, the Liz Truss/Kwasi Kwarteng mini-budget destroyed once and for all the myth that the Tories are better at managing the economy. The New Zealand National Party could not even wait until they were in government to prove the same applies to them.
National, the main centre-right party in NZ politics have released a policy which economists claim does not add up. National argues their proposed foreign buyer’s tax will raise $2.9 billion. However, analysis from three independent economists does not back this claim. Instead, they estimate a $2.1 billion shortfall over a four-year period.
National are under increasing pressure to explain how they will fund their other tax cut policies. The foreign buyer tax policy was supposed to explain the shortfall. National has not released the fully costed workings of their policy and instead has fallen back on sound bites and slogans.
Like in the UK a year ago, there are real fears that cutting taxes during a cost of living crisis will drive up inflation. Further, if the so-called foreign buyer tax will not cover the shortfall, the only other option is severe spending cuts on public services or heavy borrowing. Or both.
National has raised considerably more money than Labour in the lead-up to this election. Much of this is from business. Many in the business sector were unhappy with the strict lockdowns during the pandemic, especially in 2021. Many of them believe the myth that the centre-right is better at managing the economy, so are supporting the National Party. More than a few of National’s business backers must now be questioning their investment in a party whose numbers simply do not add up.
In an interview with the NZ Herald, Opposition Finance Spokesperson and National’s deputy leader Nicola Willis, on seeing the alternative costings said it was “hardly surprising to have different economists disagreeing about things. National is confident in our figures. They have been independently assessed by Castalia economic advisors.”
Yet the full Castalia assessment has not been released. While the economists may have each produced their own different assessment of her party’s policy, they all agree National have grossly overestimated the revenue this new tax would raise.
If current polling is to be believed, in one month Willis will be the NZ Finance Minister and her party running the country. Given she and National are yet to produce more than opposition slogans and policies that do not add up, this is concerning.
Even the ACT Party, who are historically to the right of National, have now said they will be dialling back their tax cut policies due to the current economic situation in New Zealand. This is not entirely surprising. In the first term of the Thatcher Government, which started the New Right economic reforms in the UK, there were no tax cuts due to the high level of inflation in the late 1970s and early 1980s. By contrast, The NZ National Party, do not even understand their own economic theories. Their analysis seems to be little more than tax cuts = good, government spending = bad.
Willis and National said one way their numbers will add up is by cutting waste. They recently highlighted a story where a senior public servant was given a $40,000 farewell party. This is clearly unacceptable, and the official concerned was rightly made to pay this money back. But putting this in context, the total NZ health budget for 2022-23 was $14.9 billion. A handful of cases of waste, ordering fewer paperclips and turning off office heating at weekends will still just be a drop in the ocean.
At the time of writing, National are the favourites in this election. What is increasingly clear is they are not ready to govern. And increasingly, economists, even those sympathetic to centre-right politics are publically saying as much. Anyone who still thinks a National-led government will improve New Zealand’s economic situation need only look at the evidence. Like the UK Conservatives under Truss, they simply are not up to the task.