20 June 2001
'Old school' tax paper disappointing - Greens
Green Party Co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons today said an issues paper from the independent tax review was disappointingly
old-fashioned when what was needed were progressive ideas that addressed economic and ecological sustainability.
"This report has completely failed to come to grips with the arguments the Greens put to it for ecological tax reform,
or the shifting of taxes off income and enterprise and onto pollution and waste," said Ms Fitzsimons.
"In that sense this report represents very old fashioned thinking. The concept of sustainability was not even mentioned
and this will leave New Zealand even further behind modern countries in the OECD who are increasingly taxing the 'bads'
we wish to discourage rather than the 'goods' we need to encourage."
Ms Fitzsimons said there was small comfort from the statement that the debate on carbon taxes should begin now. "This is
way behind the eight ball - this debate has been underway for some time."
Ms Fitzsimons said the Green Party were totally opposed to the concept of taxing house ownership unless all other assets
were taxed equally.
"This report proposes a less progressive tax system with only two steps. New Zealanders have just overwhelmingly voted
out the flat taxers of the last 15 years in favour of a fairer and more progressive system. These people need to get up
Ms Fitzsimons said that despite the Green Party's strong representations to Michaal Cullen the Commission had no-one on
it with a background in ecological tax reform.
"There is a clear trend towards eco taxes internationally as countries recognise that raising revenue can occur in ways
that promote sustainable development and that taxation can become a powerful agent for environmental protection, as well
as leaving more money in our pay packets," she said.
The Green submission to the review identified carbon taxes - or a tradeable carbon permit system - as an area for
specific investigation for the early stages of ecological tax reform, along with solid waste, toxics, hazardous wastes,
fisheries resource rentals and mineral extraction.
"The Greens are disappointed with the old fashioned and narrow thinking behind this review. From an environmental
perspective it may as well have been written 50 years ago," said Ms Fitzsimons.