Petition to cut GST from kai launched by Māori Party

By Will Trafford

Te Pāti Māori has launched a formal petition to remove GST (Goods and Services tax) from kai, having last week tabled the idea as a solution to the soaring cost of living.

Co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer says such a move would 'make a real difference in the lives of everyday New Zealanders and those who are struggling'.

“This is an opportunity for the government to put its money where its mouth is and show that it is serious about supporting struggling whānau and eliminating poverty in Aotearoa. Our people will no longer settle for crumbs. Food is a right and a necessity that should never be taxed,” Ngarewa-Packer said.

Food inflation hit 6.8% between February 2021 and February 2022, a 30-year high and, when combined with record fuel prices attributed to Russian president Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described the situation as a 'perfect storm' last week.

In an attempt to mitigate surging petrol prices, which for 91 octane, had crossed over $3.00 a litre, the government reduced fuel taxes by $.30 a litre last week.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson said he was considering other options to mitigate the rising cost of living but did not signal the 15 per cent GST on food was under consideration.

GST elimination is an idea borrowed from Australia. When politicians introduced a 10 per cent GST in 2000 they exempted healthy fruits and vegetables from the tax.

Former Te Pāti Māori MP Rahui Katene tried for a similar bill that failed in 2010.

Ngarewa-Packer says the petition encompasses all food, with the shortfall made up by increasing tax for the richest New Zealanders.

"We would shift this tax burden through new taxes on wealth including capital gains, ghost house tax, financial services tax and pollution taxes." she said.

“The current system has poor and working class people subsidising the lifestyles of the rich. It’s time to shift that burden onto the people who can afford it. The Prime Minister proved that this can be done by lowering GST on petrol overnight” co-leader Rawiri Waititi said.

The petition can be found on the Te Pāti Māori website.