The Green Party's policy of raising the top tax rate to
generate close to $1 billion to tackle child poverty was not
about penalising the rich but sharing the benefits more fairly,
the party's co-leader said today.
If in Government the Greens would create a new top tax rate
of 40 per cent for those earning above $140,000, co-leader
Metiria Turei announced at the party's campaign launch in
Auckland this afternoon.
The new top tax rate would impact only three per cent of all
taxpayers, but the revenue raised would make "the world of
difference to the hundreds of thousands of children living in
poverty", she said. The tax threshold was set at $140,000 so
MPs' salaries were captured.
"Our tax system is the key to solving poverty and reducing
inequality. Our top rate of income tax is the seventh-lowest
in the OECD", she said.
"Even at 40 percent, we'll still have one of the lowest top
tax rates in the OECD."
The Greens would also harmonise the trust tax rate with the
top income tax rate, and introduce measures to make it harder
for people to avoid paying their fair share of tax --
generating close to $1b a year, she said.
The revenue generated would be invested in:
* A new Children's Credit that would give an extra $60 a week
to families currently missing out -- at a cost of $400
million a year.
* A non-discriminatory Parental Tax Credit of $220 a week in
the first weeks of life for the poorest children -- costing
$29.4m a year.
* A $500m per year investment in children's health and
education to reduce the harm caused by poverty.
New Zealand children growing up in poverty were three times
more likely to be admitted to hospital, five times more
likely to die of cot death, and 27 times more likely to get
rheumatic fever, and die earlier than those who are better
off, Mrs Turei said.
"Child poverty can be eliminated. We have the tools and
techniques. It is now, simply a matter of choice."
"I want to be clear. The Green Party has no bone to pick with
wealth -- the problem in New Zealand is not that some people
earn more money, it's that the benefits need to be shared
more fairly," Mrs Turei said.
The campaign launch was also attended by Booker prize winter
Eleanor Catton and Phoenix Foundation singer Samuel Flynn
Scott who urged voters to give their party vote to the
Catton said she was lucky to have grown up with a family who
loved the outdoors and believed that mining in national parks
and deep-sea oil drilling were disasters waiting to happen.
"I want my children and my children's children to be proud of
the steps I took on their behalf to protect this country and
what matters about it.
"That's why I'm giving my party vote to the Greens."
National's associate finance spokesman Steven Joyce said more
taxes would result in a slower economy and fewer jobs.
"Keeping with the plan is the best way of helping people."