National leader Christopher Luxon says his government would insist on ministers going through their budgets “line by line” to address the wasteful spending he claims has contributed to spiralling inflation.
Speaking to Q&A’s Jack Tame this morning, Luxon noted that government spending had risen to a projected $128bn in 2022, a more than $52bn increase on five years ago. While acknowledging that much of that expenditure was on measures to address the Covid crisis, Luxon criticised spending on the health restructure, the Hamilton-Auckland Te Huia train and the additional 14,000 public sector employees hired since 2017, but struggled to identify wasteful government outlays that had significantly contributed to the current inflation rate of 6.9%.
He said: “I can tell you what Grant Robertson needs to be doing, what Bill English would have been doing what Nicola Willis will be doing, is telling every minister to go through their budget line by line. There is dumb stuff, there is wasteful spending going on. There are things that are working exceptionally well, we should continue to fund and actually strengthen the funding there. There are other things that aren’t working well.”
On National’s tax proposal, which includes rolling back most of the present government’s new taxes and adjusting tax bands for inflation, Luxon said: “it’s a short term solution, in this budget in May, you could go off and do that and actually, that would be a really good thing to give Kiwis back some money. I appreciate it doesn’t solve all the challenges that they’ve got. But it’s a start to say we’re gonna give you the money in your pocket.”
National wants to scrap the top tax bracket for income over $180,000 a year, and Tame asked how much more Luxon would personally profit from that change as prime minister. Luxon admitted he “would do very well because I’m a high income earner”. Pressed on the reasoning for a tax cut for those who, like the prime minister, earn close to half a million dollars a year, Luxon said National “[wants} Kiwis to be able to return to New Zealand. So we’ve got lots of skills to offer. We want migrants to be attracted here.”