You’ll have noticed that Key only ever talks about increasing ‘after-tax incomes’. Even when he’s asked about wages for government employees, like doctors, he responds that National would increase their after-tax incomes with tax cuts, not by increasing their wages.
But anybody can see that cutting taxes is only a short-term way to slightly increase the money in people’s wallets. Labour’s tax cuts will knock 22% off the tax the median person (earning $27K) pays but that will only boost their net incomes 5%. Those are expensive tax cuts; any larger tax cuts from National would need borrowing or cuts in the social wage. Large tax cuts can’t be repeated every year, even eliminating income tax would not close the wage gap with Australia, and indexing taxes to inflation would give no after-inflation income increase.
So, since tax cuts aren’t a way to increase after-tax incomes. Only wage rises can lift after-tax incomes sustainably. Why, then, does Key only talk about tax cuts and after-tax incomes? Because National is the party of big business. No National leader would say ‘we’ll raise after-tax incomes by raising the minimum wage and backing workers’ efforts to get pay rises’ that’s not what National stands for. Money spent on wages could be profits; business wants bigger profits, which is why Key says he ‘would love to see wages drop‘. But Key has to make people think National has something to offer on incomes. And, so, he repeats ad nauseam his hollow ‘after-tax incomes’ line.