Letters: GST on food, changing government, climate crisis, List MPs, and Talisman Sabre
Reminder, this is a Premium article and requires a subscription to read. There is much chatter in the aisles about a supposed plan to remove Goods and Services Tax from food items. Photo / Jenia Broggi, 123rf, File Tax break to chew on With the speculation about reducing GST on fruit and vegetables, claims this would be difficult to implement are specious. However, there is a fairer, better, and easier way. In the small town of Rochester, Minnesota, about 40 years ago, we had multiple sales taxes including a city tax specifically for education. If we introduce such exceptions to GST there will be some costs to retailers and undoubtedly some will use it as an excuse to hike prices. The simplest way to give fair tax relief is, as I suggested several weeks ago, to assess the first $5000 of income as attracting a rate of zero and leave all other bands as they are. This would give every taxpayer $525 benefit across the board no more for the rich; no less for the poor. No taxpayer will get a greater benefit than any other and the implementation can be done with the stroke of a pen. Rod Lyons, Kumeu. Sweeten the deal If people have concerns about the cost of removing GST on food, it could become cost neutral very easily with the simultaneous introduction of a 15 per cent tax on sugary drinks. The revenue gained from that would more than cover the other. Again the health of the nation would improve as evidence shows sugary drinks increase tooth decay and fast-track obesity. Doctors and dentists have been crying out for these changes for years. Hopefully, the Government has finally listened and has the courage to do whats right. Glen Stanton, Mairangi Bay. Winning prescription The proposed probable or possible dropping of the GST on fresh fruit and vegetables is similar to the dropping of the charge of prescriptions. The real winners were the chemists; in this case the supermarkets will be, as they too will gradually increase prices on fruit and vegetables to be the total winners. It is better for the public to have the Government encourage and assist more competition in the marketplace instead. David M de Lacey, Newmarket. Rolling back Can we afford a constant change of governments, with the great cost of half-finished projects and lack of consistency arising? This is a reason why our essential infrastructure lags so far behind other OECD countries. To date, National has promised to close down Labours top tax rate (any guess how much lost revenue that will be?); the Maori Health authority; the fair pay agreement; Three Waters ($34m to date); TVNZ/RNZ merger; Aucklands regional fuel tax; income insurance scheme; Aucklands light rail project, $50m, to date; three strikes legislation; bright line test, in effect a capital gains tax; clean car discount (pothole heaven); and how about the plain language act, a bill formally requiring all government departments to communicate in plain English - what a waste of taxpayers money that would be. No mention of Labours winter energy payment, which we can only assume National would also scrap, which is scurrilous indeed as it is a sure winner for Labour. All up, much to contemplate, unless we continue to focus on individual politicians rather than their policies and continue to blight any progress, particularly on infrastructure, this country aspires to. Gary Hollis, Mellons Bay. Change is coming It looks like Christopher Luxon has no idea, not even the tiniest inkling, of what runaway climate change is and how it will hit us. And Im not sure Chris Hipkins has much more idea. In fact, neither one of them seems aware of the need to protect New Zealand and New Zealanders from the ravages of climate change to come. Or if they do think about it, they certainly havent told us. May Heaven help us, for I cant see how they will. Jill Whitmore, Panmure. Public listing I thought that MMP was a good idea to give voters more enfranchisement; however Im still wondering what List MPs do. They are paid the same as other MPs (approximately $163,000) Id love to see a summation of their role. Hamish Walsh, Devonport. Military games New Zealands involvement in the Talisman Sabre war games in Australia presents challenging issues for us. It is easy to understand how important it is for our armed forces to work with other sophisticated forces to exercise their skills, familiarise themselves with new technologies and develop their interoperability with other forces. At the same time, we need to recognise that war is not a game; it is a matter of life and death and the possible destruction of our society. War is not something we should be training for, but something that we need to be doing all that is humanly possible to avoid. Further, we are undertaking these games in the context of ever-increasingly sophisticated and destabilising technologies and strategic competition between great powers. Is our security to be found in becoming tied to our traditional friends and their increasingly erratic aggressive strategies, or should we be ensuring that we are on good terms with all important powers and proving our abilities as peacemakers? At the moment, the needs of our defence forces are undermining our security, not defending it. Gray Southon, Tauranga. Walk, dont run Auckland Transport and Fire & Emergency NZ are promoting road speed reductions, so roads are safe to walk bike and ride on. Maybe its time we did away with footpaths, if they are encouraging people to walk on roads. New Zealand: The first country this century to want people walking in front of cars. Randel Case, Buckland Beach. Knock-on effects It is long overdue for the Minister of Sport and the Minister in charge of ACC to co-ordinate an urgent review of the short and long-term effect concussion and head knocks to the brain is having on all our sportswomen and men. This includes rugby, rugby league, soccer, boxing and kick-boxing etc. The short and long-term impact of constant head knocks has been conveniently ignored by sports administrators, the medical, neurological and physiotherapy professions, the media and sports sponsors etc. It is an absolute disgrace that no meaningful, co-ordinated action has been taken. This is a multimillion-dollar indictment and blight on our society which has been conveniently swept under the carpet for far too long. Bruce Tubb, Devonport. Harvesting wind I am passionate about renewable energy so it was heartening to see a two-page article ( NZ Herald , July 28). Wind-generated power has considerable potential for expansion and seductive but there are risks. There are many hundreds of offshore wind turbines successfully in operation in the Northern Hemisphere, but there are additional challenges for New Zealand. Installing major structures offshore requires extended periods of calm weather. The North Sea can generate storms equal to or greater than the west coast of New Zealand, but the influence of the Southern Ocean ensures that calm seas off the west coast of New Zealand are a rarity. In Europe, wind farm developers/operators have access to heavy lift vessels which are based locally so mobilisation times are seldom more than a day. New Zealand, by contrast, is faced with significant mobilisation/demob transit costs. Onshore wind farms in NZ still have huge potential for expansion and avoid offshore challenges. Eventually, we may have little option but to farm offshore wind but, in the meantime, investment onshore is a safer return. Nigel Wilson, Devonport. Chain sore It is painful to see the deliberate destruction of life-sustaining trees at Otahuhu Mt Richmond right now. Sixty-six sentinels of the forest, including plane and Moreton Bay fig trees, are being cut down and habitats lost. Yet more of our natural environment is being laid to waste. These trees are not causing a problem, they have been giving for 100 years, not taking away. They are a vital contribution to controlling a heating planet hottest on record reported on Friday. At the same time, Tamaki Makaurau needs help, resources and money to restore damaged communities after months of extreme weather, What does this say about our society? When will our citys valuable natural assets be protected for all? Evie Mahoney, Mangere Bridge. Cards dealt Eddie Jones comment that the All Blacks scored four of their six tries when his players had been yellow-carded is not sour grapes but an indictment on this aspect of the game. Very few teams are able to play successfully when they are down to 14 men. Last Saturday night, two Wallabies were yellow-carded, so for a quarter of the game 14 played 15. The All Blacks had a significant advantage for a good proportion of that game. The fans, whether watching at the stadium or on television, surely feel slightly disgruntled no matter what team they supported at a highly-anticipated spectacle being downgraded to something that turns out to be one-sided. Perhaps a more creative system of dealing with misdemeanours is needed, rather than sending players off. Maybe points could be deducted from the team total and/or a player who commits an offence is ineligible for selection in a number of subsequent internationals depending on the seriousness of the offence. At least people would know without a doubt who the better team were on the day. Bernard Walker, Papamoa. Happy scrapper As a household who has used a compost bin to dispose of our food scraps for over 40 years (we stopped composting due to a problem with rats from a neighbouring property), we were at first very sceptical about the new Auckland Council Food Scrap bins service - especially as we could not opt out and receive a credit. Initially, we envisaged only filling the benchtop bin once a week. However, as a household of four adults, we fill it three times per week. I strongly suggest other households try this service before passing judgment. Congratulations to Auckland Council for this new service. Richard Murray, Henderson. On GST If this Government is serious about assisting consumers why not instead remove the GST on regional and local council rates? This will be easy to implement, transparent, and best of all, it removes an inequity - a tax on a tax. Quentin Miller, Te Atatu South. Australia has managed it; surely theyre not that much smarter than us? Maxine Samson, Whakatane. On US Watching the Trump circus, as well as the US government investigating UFOs, I am left with the feeling that there are a huge number of nutters in the USA. Neville Cameron, Coromandel. Why is it only Americans who seem to have seen UFOs? Alan Milton, Cambridge. On shrinkflation I was shocked to find my favourite breakfast marmalade has shrunk in size from a 500g jar to 375g. The price is still $4.70 though. Do they think we wont notice? V. Hall, Whangaparaoa. On National The National Party seems to have a kneejerk reaction to anything that Labour has done - cancel it. Carrick Bernard, Mt Albert. On safety Parents drive their children to school because its not safe for them to walk or cycle as there is too much traffic around schools. Cause and effect, methinks. Linda McGrogan, Taupo. Kiwis pay by credit, debt rises amid cost of living crisis Interesting that by far the biggest increases in debt over the year were Crown debt, up 17 per cent, and local government debt, up 11 per cent. This is from May 2022 to May 2023, so not directly related to Covid. In comparison, households and businesses have been restrained and increased debt around 3 per cent. Government spending is out of control and is continuing to rack up more debt while the rest of us tighten our belts. Sue J. Those are sobering statistics and only confirm what we can instinctively feel when Government borrowing is now topping $190b compared with $35b when they came to power in 2017. Glen W. It will affect us all eventually as consumer spending drops and businesses collapse. Much of the credit card debts will be small businesses as well, many have taken subsidies thinking it will save them, only to come out of Covid with increases of all costs. Reduced consumer spending with higher interest rates will send many businesses and their employees to a dark place. Its not just some people anymore it is our whole economy. John W. Most dont have a choice, my house insurance has gone up 51 per cent in two years. My rates have gone up 30 per cent (a $1000 increase). Then, everything else thats risen. No wonder people are unable to manage, let alone save. I have never struggled so much financially. Andrew G. How else can people do it? in a cost of living crisis, if you live week to week, have no savings and your income versus your outgoings doesnt balance up? Some peoples weekly expenses would have gone up 30-50 per cent plus. Not all of us have the face for Only Fans. Deborah T. Reminder, this is a Premium article and requires a subscription to read. 'If I return to visit my dying mother I will be arrested on the spot.'