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Taxation issues the weak spot for resurgent Labour

Opinion Piece

With the poll that really matters starting today, Labour goes into the final two weeks of the election in pole position and with only one clear weak spot — taxation.

Advance voting started today but with one of the most exciting contests for a long time, voters could be excused for waiting to see what developments could still come over the next 12 days.

In any case, it looks likely voter tournout will exceed the 77.9 percent registered in 2014 — especially if efforts to get out young voters succeed.

Labour has benefitted hugely from “Jacindamania”, which could be described as an emotional response to a younger, more personable leader with what looks like a vision for the future.

So far Labour’s new leader has hardly put a foot wrong. Jacinda Ardern’s ability to deflect hard questions shows a sidestep worthy of All Black first five Beauden Barrett, and it is hard for interviewers to get feisty with someone who is smiling at them.

Faced with the most recent poll that sees them four points behind Labour, National will be anxiously looking for some weaknesses to exploit — and taxation certainly seems the most promising.

Labour has adopted a “trust us” approach in which it will set up a tax working group after the election. That is seen by some as a blank cheque; expect English and Stephen Joyce to focus on this in the coming days.

Labour’s promises in the health and education fields, building 100,000 houses and things like $140 a month in the winter to help pay power bills, all come at a cost.

Ardern had one more zinger last night — a ban on overseas investors buying existing properties that would come “before Christmas”.

Joyce did National no favours with his completely unproven claim of an $11.7 billion hole in Labour’s finances, but economists do generally agree that Labour’s budget is tight and does not allow for any surprises.

The election is still the biggest game in town — even a massive hurricane battering the Americas and news of a third baby for the Duchess of Cambridge has barely taken people’s eyes away. Watch this space.