26 July 2019

Fri, 26 Jul, 2019

RMA REFORM

ACT welcomes an opportunity to reform the RMA, but it must be for the right reasons.

Finally Labour, through its Environment Minister David Parker, has admitted that –

"It is unacceptable for this cornerstone law to be underperforming in a country that values protection of the environment while properly housing its people," Parker said.

"Our aim is to produce a revamped law, fit for purpose in the 21st century that will cut complexity and cost while better protecting our environment."

But if the Greens get their fingers into it, this review could deliver worse outcomes as they try to make provision for Climate Change. That will not get houses built more quickly and in fact sounds like a recipe for making it even more difficult, especially for people who own coastal or low-lying properties, to develop their land at their own expense and risk.

We cannot trust a National government to go through with any meaningful changes to the RMA if they return to power. They had the opportunity as the last government. If there ever was a time they could have done it, it was then. As with most of ACT’s policies and stands, they decide they’re a good idea after the event – cases in point RMA reform, partnership schools, and now their turnaround on rushed gun laws. I think this shows how we’ve been doing the heavy lifting in a number of areas and without ACT, National will never be anything more than a custodian of policies of the left.

Now is the time for National and Labour, with ACT’s support, to work on the real reform needed to get this country moving again.

WOWSERS

I’ve just completed a UMR Survey that seems to be gauging support to add an additional 10% to the cost of a bottle of wine – all tax – to address alcohol-harm reduction. One of the first questions it asked was did I think $7.00 was too little or too much to pay for a bottle of wine! Well, that depends on whether I like it or not. I’m sitting here sipping on an $8.00 bottle and for the money, it’s quite acceptable. I’m on a budget and this is what I enjoy.

It’s questions like these that make you realise Labour is appealing to wowsers who want to tax other people’s enjoyment.

This is being backed up by recent studies like this one which finds that us baby-boomers are apparently drinking too much.

Alcohol, energy drinks, sugar, smoking and vaping, are all in the nanny-statists’ sights. In all the arguments for increasing taxes or restrictions on these so-called vices, there is one element missing: the value of enjoyment. Many of us will have experienced that cutting or reducing one form of addictive enjoyment tends to result in amplification of another. This is addiction transfer, and as long as we have options that allow us to transfer onto something less harmful than the one we want to give up, such as from alcoholic beverages to sodas or energy drinks, or from smoking to vaping, then further taxes or restrictions should not be added.

Tax revenue collected from alcohol, as with tobacco, should never be more than is needed to run public education programmes, deal with the health effects, or fund addiction treatment for those who want to give it up. Slapping on another 10% otherwise feels like a virtue-signalling punishment for those who enjoy drinking responsibly, and will disadvantage those who can least afford it.

For those trying to move off the smokes, vaping is a lesser-evil alternative. One of the reasons it works is that users can step through nicotine strengths starting off high and reducing over time, which is not possible with smoking. So any move by government to ban high-level nicotine e-liquids will have the effect of driving users back to more harmful cigarettes to get their fix.

PICKING WINNERS

What on earth is Shane Jones saying here? This misprint made me giggle, but in any case, is the Minister saying that he has no real measure on whether the PGF is meeting its objectives?

"Getting high quality data about the number of employees and how they're benefiting from the three billion fun [sic] is important, but I would say employment stats are not static and tracking people … can become very murky," he said.

So, why on earth then loan a Northland berry farmer over $2 million to create “training and employment opportunities”. Really? Hydroponics is a system that drastically reduces labour requirements! Good one!

Let’s watch how this one pans out, because even under the previous government, whose PGF was the Callaghan Innovation Fund, picking winners has been extremely hit and miss.

The way to help businesses invest in their own R&D, create jobs and pay higher wages, is by giving them a tax cut. ACT’s flat tax policy of 17.5% on all earnings whether personal or business, is fair, clear, simple, and visionary.

Back to my $8 wine…

 

Beth Houlbrooke

Deputy Leader / Vice President