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Govt Passes Tax And Kiwisaver Legislation

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, Dec 11 NZPA - The National-led Government has passed its first major legislation -- enshrining tax cuts and KiwiSaver changes into law.

The Taxation (Urgent Measures and Annual Rates) Bill passed its third reading this morning by 68 votes to 52.

ACT, United Future and the Maori Party voted for the bill along the lines of their confidence and supply agreements with National.

Its passage followed a longer than expected debate after successful filibustering by Opposition MPs during its committee stage last night.

Labour and the Greens attacked the bill as giving big tax cuts to high income earners while leaving those at the other end of the scale worse off than they would have been if the previous government's long-range package had been left alone.

The bill also reduced KiwiSaver to a "two plus two" scheme and repealed the research and development tax credit introduced by the previous government.

Finance Minister Bill English introduced the third reading debate late last night, saying the provisions in the bill were known before the election and voters had supported it by putting National into power.

He said the bill was part of the Government's plan to get New Zealand through the recession with minimum damage.

It would stimulate the economy and provide incentives for people to get ahead.

"No one is worse off as a result of this piece of legislation," he said.

"This rubbish from the Opposition about low income people being attacked...if they're hard up it's because Labour ignored them for years."

Labour's finance spokesman, David Cunliffe, said the details of the tax cuts and other measures were not known before the election.

"Sheep's clothing has fallen from the National wolf," he said.

"Everyone has seen through this charade. We understand this for what it is."

Former finance minister Michael Cullen also said National had never previously debated the details of its package.

"All they talked about was tax cuts in the context of everyone getting one," he said.

"Let's not pretend National have a detailed mandate from the country for this."

Labour's associate finance spokesman Clayton Cosgrove attacked the Maori Party's support for a bill that he said would leave most of its constituents worse off.

The tax cuts will deliver $18 a week extra for a worker on the average wage when the first tranche kicks in next April.

Incorporating Labour's October 1 tax cuts, the same worker would be $47 a week better off by April 2011, when the whole programme is in force.

But Labour said those on incomes of between $14,000 and $24,000 will be worse off, and so will many modest income families with children.

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