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Maori Party bill would remove GST from healthy food

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Rahui Katene
Rahui Katene

Wellington, July 13 NZPA - A Maori Party bill that would remove GST from healthy food could come up for debate in Parliament in the next few weeks.

MP Rahui Katene drafted the member's bill, which has been drawn from the ballot that is used to decide which ones reach the debating chamber. Two or three bills are usually drawn every second Wednesday Parliament sits.

It is likely to go on Parliament's agenda for a first reading debate when Parliament returns from recess next Tuesday.

The Government is expected to oppose the bill, which means it won't pass its first reading, but Ms Katene is gathering as much support as she can from other parties and hopes National will change its mind.

Revenue Minister Peter Dunne said today her proposal wasn't viable because if some items were exempted from GST there would be demands for others to be given the same treatment.

He said removing GST from the food specificed in the bill would mean the loss of millions of tax dollars which would have to be found somewhere else.

Ms Katene is appealing for the bill to be at least put through its first reading so it can go to a select committee for public submissions.

Her Goods and Services Tax (Exemption of Healthy Food) Amendment Bill says food prices have risen more than 20 percent in the last three years while real incomes have risen only very slightly.

"While all consumers will benefit from the removal of goods and services tax from healthy food, those on lower incomes spend a greater proportion of their income on food and will receive a significant benefit as a result," it says.

"Research conducted both in New Zealand and overseas shows that the lowering of the price of healthy food ... leads to a significant increase in purchases of healthy food."

The bill defines healthy food as fruit and vegetables, breads and cereals, milk and milk products excluding ice cream, cream products, condensed and flavoured milk, and lean meat, poultry, seafood ,eggs, nuts, seeds and legumes.

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