Labour leader David Cunliffe stumbled when he could not
answer a question during last night's leaders' debate, but
later rejected claims the party's capital gains tax would
capture 215,000 homes held in family trusts.
The debate was at times heated, as the leaders traversed
topics from poverty, tax policy including tax cuts, the
Canterbury recovery and Nicky Hager's book Dirty Politics.
The Prime Minister took aim at Labour's tax policy, asking
repeatedly: "Tell me this: if I own a house in a trust, do I
pay a capital gains tax on it?"
John Key claimed that 300,000 homes in family trusts would be
caught by Labour's capital gains tax (CGT), because they were
owned by a trust.
In a moment reminiscent of the "show me the money" incident
in a leaders' debate before the 2011 election, where
then-Labour leader Phil Goff was caught out not knowing
policy details, Mr Cunliffe avoided the question and tried to
turn attention to Mr Key's position on GST.
After the debate, Mr Key said a CGT on the family home was a
"shocking revelation", and said a tax practitioner had told
him the 300,000 figure.
Mr Cunliffe said he did not answer the question in the debate
because he wanted to check his facts.
"A family home does not incur a capital gains tax, whether
it's owned by a trust or not. I thought it better to check
that one before answering. John Key got it wrong. The fine
legal niceties of a CGT will be worked through by a panel of
experts ... but of course those details aren't appropriate
for a free-flowing, fast debate like that."
The discussion became tense when it turned to the Canterbury
rebuild. At one point Mr Cunliffe called Mr Key a
"school-yard larrikin" in response to his repeated
interjections of "whatever".
Mr Cunliffe criticised the inquiry into Judith Collins'
conduct as being so narrow that it would be a "joke".
Mr Key responded by taking a swipe at the "three or four"
staffers in Mr Cunliffe's office that write in the left-wing
"It's a known fact that Jason Ede in my office talked to a
blogger. There are people in your office who have written on
blogs. It happens on your side and you know it."
Mr Key condemned Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater for
allegedly running a smear campaign against the Serious Fraud
Office, and confirmed that the blogger's emails will form
part of an inquiry into Judith Collins' conduct.
And he hinted that his plan for tax cuts for low to middle
income-earners, to be announced next week, would not be more
than $30 a week.
"Even if it's a small amount, we want to reward New
Zealanders for working hard, whether it's $10 or $20 or $30
bucks [a week], it adds up to $500 or $1000 for an individual
or a couple [a year]."
The leaders also discussed different approaches to lifting
people out of poverty. Mr Cunliffe pointed to government
assistance, including Labour's Best Start payment for
parents, while Mr Key said employment was the best path out
Mr Cunliffe retorted: "There are 100,000 children growing up
below the poverty line where parents are working. It's not
just about work."
Mr Key said the minimum wage promises from Labour and the
Greens would cost jobs.
"You want to send 16,500 people to the dole queue, David."
- By Derek Cheng of the New Zealand Herald