It is now abundantly clear that the future of any Capital Gains Tax depends on NZ First.
And though the party’s president has called for party members to respond to an online survey about the Tax Working Group’s report, he told POLITIK yesterday that the party was not conducting any formal process to arrive at its eventual policy position.
But the president, Lester Gray, told POLITIK, that the party was finding a lot of people wanted to talk to it about capital gains tax.
“I was in Invercargill at the weekend at the A and P show, and there was a lot of talk there about the Capital Gains Tax,” he said.
“There were a lot of New Zealand First supporters but also a lot of non-supporters who were calling in at our tent to see where we stood on things and to have a chat.”
But Gray said the party was not having a formal process to review its policies on tax.
“The caucus are continually reviewing policies, and as a party we continually do it, but there’s nothing specifically organised to get everybody’s excitement up at the moment.”
Asked what role Peters was playing in this, Gray said: “You know how much trouble I’d get into if I answered something for Winston!”
However, despite Gray’s assertion that there is no formal process, the party has an online survey on its Facebook page asking people to give their views on a range of taxes including capital gains, and probably not surprisingly for NZ First, other taxes including tobacco taxes.
There are a large number of comments on the site, mostly opposing a capital gains tax.
That may explain what is fast becoming obvious and that is that Peters is carefully avoiding any suggestion that he might support the tax.
Again in Parliament yesterday his interventions during Simon Bridges’ questions to Jacinda Ardern about the tax were distractions rather than than his usual pointed questions aimed at embarrassing National.
National were not so coy.
Bridges asked a series of questions of Ardern obviously intended to get Ardern to admit that the TWG was proposing a separate Capital Gains tax regime for Maori and iwi-owned organisations.
Ardern was getting as close as the Speaker would allow to suggesting Bridges was being racist in his questioning.
“ I’d really like to question the member: where exactly is he trying to go with this issue—where exactly?” she said.
But though National wasn’t saying, the questioning appeared to be part of their ongoing strategy to split the NZ First Parliamentary Party off from its core voters many of whom in the past have been critical of what Peters calls “race-based” policies.
Gray, though, said that despite the party’s low polling figures it was enjoying considerable support at present.
“Contrary to the polls and contrary to what a lot of people say, we have got an amazing amount of support out there.
“We saw that down in Invercargill on the weekend and in Dunedin on Sunday.
“A lot of people are liking what we’re doing.”
And what the party believes it does best, is moderating Labour. Asked if that was its main pitch to voters, Gray said that they were obviously not a major party, but they brought a real balance to whoever they dealt with.
“] I think you could quote Winston and he often said it in the campaign that a vote for New Zealand First is a vote of insurance,” said Gray.
“And I think that that’s a really realistic way of looking at New Zealand First.”
And that is why New Zealand First is almost certainly highly unlikely to agree to a comprehensive capital gains tax.