Free Press, 18 June


 

Yet another tax?

 

The Government is proposing to slap yet another tax on the economy – this time on our biggest export earner. International visitors could be paying $35 more to come here from next year.

 

The official advice shows the tax will see fewer visitors and tourism revenue coming into New Zealand as a result.

 

Tourists already pay their way

 

International visitors already pay $3.4 billion in tax each year, with the state spending about $640 million on them.

 

If central government wants to improve conservation and tourism infrastructure it should share some of this existing revenue with councils rather than adding another tax to our economy.

 

Missed opportunity on mining

 

The Government has turned down an application for a mine on public conservation land which would have provided 60 badly-needed jobs for the West Coast.

 

The bigger picture 

 

A ban on mining on public conservation land was announced just after the formation of the Government. No cost-benefit analysis was done prior to the policy’s announcement. It was a purely political decision.

 

How much could we earn?

 

In 2010, economists at the NZ Institute of Economic Research estimated that mining conservation land could increase our gross domestic product by 1.3% or more. That equates to $2.3 billion of additional national income per year, or over $550 per person.

 

That’s more than CPTPP will add to the New Zealand economy, and the figure is likely to be higher now.

 

Green radicals

 

The ban means Greens Minister Eugenie Sage has taken a more radical position than former Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Jan Wright who said: “The conservation estate is a major Crown asset and the Crown is justified in seeking a return on this asset.”

 

A Winston wish list

 

Winston Peters’ decision to put his foot down over the three strikes law is positive news.

 

On the assumption he wishes to do more than enjoy the baubles his new office, ACT has drafted a modest wish list for his time as Acting Prime Minister.

 

Take a chance on workers

 

Peters could allow all businesses to keep 90-day trial periods.

 

Employers overwhelmingly support this ACT policy because it gives them the confidence to take on young or unskilled workers. Scrapping 90-day trials for large employers will hurt the most vulnerable people in the labour market.

 

Back the oil and gas industry

 

The Acting PM could also back workers in Taranaki and reverse the ban on offshore oil and gas exploration.

 

The ban will risk security of energy supply, increase costs to consumers, increase global greenhouse gas emissions, and reduce economic activity and royalties to the Crown. There’s no upside.

 

Keep educational opportunity for disadvantaged kids

 

Peters could overrule Chris Hipkins and halt the process that would see an end to the Partnership Schools. Recent polling shows a majority of NZ First voters support retaining the schools.

 

Partnership Schools are changing 1500 lives for the better.

 

Get Auckland building and moving

 

If there’s still time left, Winston should begin reforming the Resource Management Act and get the ball rolling on completing the Auckland motorway network.

 

RMA reform would unleash the private sector’s ability to build affordable houses, and a completed motorway network will unlock Auckland’s productivity potential. Both are desperately needed.

 

Winston Peters could use his six weeks as Acting PM to enjoy the view from the 9th floor of the Beehive, or blunt the radical edges of the Ardern Government.