• Video: To cut taxes or not - Napier candidates give their views on how to solve the cost of living crisis

Video: To cut taxes or not - Napier candidates give their views on how to solve the cost of living crisis

Napier candidates all agree that the cost of living crisis needs to be solved, but disagree on whether tax cuts are the way to do that.

Hawke’s Bay App held a debate with six of the seven candidates at The Urban Winery in Napier and produced and broadcast by Engage Video.

The candidates attending the debate were Mark Hutchinson of Labour, Democracy NZ’s Martin Langford, Julienne Dickey of the Green Party, Laurie Turnbull of New Zealand First, the National Party’s Katie Nimon, and Pawel Milewski of the ACT Party.

Hutchinson said that Labour was trying to help by giving relief through a variety of basics including GST off fruit and vegetables.

“The biggest harm to people has been the rent and mortgage increases that are caused by interest rates being high, mortgages being high.”

“Enabling people to get their kids into early childcare means that some families will be able to have two people working, which is a massive benefit. So prescription charges off. People are now starting to wake up to this and they're saying, ‘National's giving me a little bit with this hand, but actually they're taking away more’. Where's the actual money going in the tax cut plan? It's going to the richest Kiwis.”

Nimon says National was targeting people who need relief.

“The prescriptions money are going to be targeted to community service card holders and super gold cardholders. The people that need it.”

Hutchinson said: “Ask any sensible economist. In fact, any economist and they'll say those tax cuts will be inflationary, they'll be eaten within a year.”

Nimon countered that “they’re not tax cuts”.

“They're tax bracket adjustments which will provide relief for people to inflation because tax brackets have not been adjusted to inflation.”

But Hutchinson said he was not against tax bracket adjustments.

“It's just the wrong time to do it. It's the equivalent of, you've got a fire in the kitchen and your tip fat and petrol on it. You don't throw tax cuts at an economy where you are just putting out inflation. It's the wrong route.”

Langford said that filling up a shopping cart at the supermarket was a costly exercise these days.

“We need more competition. We need to get more of our homegrown produce, which is first-rate rather than exporting our best quality, keeping that in the supermarkets and stop bashing our food producers with taxes on the food producers.”

“We've got to be looking after our farmers. We've got to protect them because they are important. You are what you eat.”

Dickey said that the Gren Party will rebalance the whole tax system.

“At the moment we have a situation where the people who earn the most, those 311 families pay an effective tax rate of 9.5%,

“This is less than half the standard rate of tax. And so we will rebalance the whole thing with a wealth tax, with a higher rate of top tax and with a lower rate of the bottom. $10,000 for everyone will be tax-free. There will be an income guarantee of $385 a week with an extra $135 for solo parents.”

“For students and anyone out of work, we will make sure that the health service is much more affordable. One of the ways of doing that is to make sure that more health services are provided in the public sector rather than the private sector where you siphon off a certain amount of money. We'll make sure that homes are more energy efficient so people are paying less for their energy.”

Turnbull believes part of the issue is overseas ownership of supermarkets and banks.

“Our banks are owned by overseas industries. We've really got to look at that because these banks are just charging astronomical fees that they're charging more in New Zealand than they are in the countries that own the banks.”

Milewski says it starts with macroeconomics.

“The main driver of the inflation in New Zealand is wasteful government spending. The place has been flooded by borrowed money.”