NZ First borrows 'game changers'

Winston Peters
Winston Peters
After railing against political rival Colin Craig's Conservative Party for pillaging NZ First's manifesto and having promised "game changing" new measures, Winston Peters himself borrowed heavily from other parties with policy announcements today.

Mr Peters unveiled policies including removing GST from food and a crackdown on tax evasion this afternoon at NZ First's 21st annual conference at Auckland's Alexandra Park.

Introduced with a laundry list of his greatest hits, including the Winebox and BNZ bailout inquiries, set to the stirring strains of Ennio Morricone's theme from the film The Mission, Mr Peters received a rousing welcome from about 150 party faithful.

But the policy "circuit breakers" to tackle growing social inequality he talked up yesterday at the conference had a familiar ring to them.

NZ First would "remove GST from your food, off that is, all the basics of the household food budget".

The policy, an extension of the removal of GST from fresh fruit and vegetables previously espoused by the Maori and Labour parties, would cost about $3 billion a year, Mr Peters said

"This bold policy aims at the heart of the inequality undermining our society."

It would be funded by "a clampdown on tax evasion and the black economy" which Mr Peters estimated was worth $7 billion a year.

The policy also has strong echoes of that announced by Labour last month.

"No other party has our record for taking on tax evaders and fraudsters", Mr Peters said in a reference to the achievements listed in his introduction.

"As part of a fair system" NZ First would also remove GST from rates on residential property. "This tax on a tax deceit has to end, and it will."

NZ First would also cap what Mr Peters called "loan sharking interest rates".

While it wouldn't support Labour's capital gains tax, it would "support an extension to capital gains tax where it applies to foreign ownership of land and homes".

On law and order, Mr Peters said NZ First would introduce tougher penalties to curb "the alarming binge drinking and drug culture in New Zealand" which he said was causing serious anti-social and harmful behaviour in many communities.

"Clearly, the current law is no disincentive. It doesn't prevent people from doing harm to themselves or to others."

NZ First would introduce legislative changes so that "to the degree that it could cause serious harm to themselves, or someone else, it will be an offence to be drunk or seriously drug affected in a public place, or while trespassing on private property".

Mr Peters later told reporters the policy would act as a disincentive and, as such, it would reduce the number of people picked up by police for public disorder offences.

Meanwhile, the policies to remove GST from basic food items and household rates were about addressing "grinding poverty in parts of this country".

"We're going to do something about it," Mr Peters said.

"Genteel handwringing is not good enough. We have to act, and we're going to do that."

 - Adam Bennett of the NZ Herald

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