Petition calls for no GST on food

A 23,000 signature petition calling for GST to be taken off food was handed in at Parliament today, and organisers said they intended collecting enough names to force a referendum.

Maori Party MP Hone Harawira accepted the petition on the steps of Parliament, saying 230,000 children lived in poverty and everything possible should be done to help poor people.

"We've got GST on food but not on gambling," he told about 30 petition organisers who gathered signatures from Kaitaia in the Far North to Wellington.

"When I talk about taking GST off food people ask me how it's going to be paid for -- put it on gambling, that's how."

Petition organisers made speeches, describing National and Labour as "corporate clones" who didn't listen to poor people and only looked after the rich.

Before the marchers reached Parliament, organiser Grant Morgan said politicians who ignored it would do so at their peril.

Mr Morgan represents the Residents Action Movement (Ram) and he said it would enlist the help of other organisations to get 300,000 signatures for a citizens-initiated referendum.

Mr Harawira said yesterday it was logical to drop GST from food because poverty was rising and 80 percent of people wanted the tax lowered or removed.

He said most countries exempted basic food items from GST and in New Zealand the price of bread, vegetables and dairy products had soared.

The MP has estimated that taking GST of all dairy products, fresh fruit and vegetables would cost the Government $302 million.

Taking it off all uncooked food would cost $871 million, and removing it from all food would cost $1.26 billion.


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