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PoliticsOctober 11, 2023

Election 2023: The economic policies in two minutes


Every party has big plans to grow Aotearoa, but they’re pitching very different visions. To explore their offerings in more depth, check out

See more from our policy in two minutes series here.

This is an election about the economy. New Zealand, like the rest of the world, is in a very different economic climate from 2020, when interest rates were low, house prices were high and money was being printed so fast it created a period of rapid, unsustainable growth. Things have come back down to earth since. Inflation spiked across the world, the Reserve Bank raised rates, and growth slowed. 

National and Labour are playing the cost of living cards, offering small tax adjustments aimed at voters’ back pockets, while the minor parties want to see bolder restructures of the tax code. 

Every party is on the same page on one thing: New Zealand needs to make its economy more productive, and they generally all agree that means encouraging investment in tech, advanced manufacturing, and renewable energy. 

Income and corporate tax 

National would adjust income tax brackets for inflation by moving the 30% threshold to $53,500 and the 33% threshold to $78,100, and would make businesses with revenue under $60,000 exempt from GST.

Labour has proposed cutting GST from fruit and vegetables, and would increase the top trust tax rate to 39% to match the top income rate. 

Act wants to drop taxes to 17.5% for income under $70,000 and 28% over $70,000. 

james shaw and marama davidson headshots surround by big green $ signs
The Green Party wants to introduce a wealth tax. (Image: Archi Banal)

NZ First also wants to adjust tax brackets to inflation but wouldn’t bring the changes in until 2027; it also wants to give seniors a 50% rebate on council rates. The party is open to the idea of taking GST off fresh food but wants a select committee inquiry first. 

The Greens want to make the first $10,000 of income tax free, introduce a wealth tax of 2.5% on assets over $2 million (or $4 million for couples), and raise the corporate tax rate to 33%. 

Te Pāti Māori go even further than the Greens: they want the first $30,000 of income to be tax-free, and income over $300,000 to be taxed at 48%, with a wealth tax starting at 2% for assets of $2 million and up to 8% for $10 million. The party would also raise the corporate tax rate to 33%.

Top is keen to make the first $15,000 of income tax free, reduce tax on income under $80,000 and raise the tax rate for income over $180,000 to 42%. The party’s centrepiece tax policy is a land value tax of 0.75% per year on the value of residential land.

Growth industries

National wants a new minister for technology and a minister for space and advanced aviation, and to make it easier for space companies to launch rockets without requiring specific permission from ministers. It’s also proposing a range of new visas for workers in tech and other high-growth industries. 

Labour is pushing to grow the video game industry with a 20% tax rebate, and also pioneered the 15% tax credit on research and development. The party wants to develop a national plan for artificial intelligence and provide funding for businesses to upskill in AI. 

Agritech is another growth target for Labour. It wants to expand NZ Super’s venture capital fund to add $100 million for investing in the industry. 

Labour thinks video games will be a major growth industry in New Zealand (illustration: Ezra Whittaker)

The party would also create new research centres to develop new expertise related to technology, climate change and pandemics, create a centre to train renewable energy workers, and introduce a “minister for just transitions” to create a strategy for a low-emissions economy.

Act wants to stop all government contributions to the venture capital fund and end all tax credits and subsidies on research and development, but would set an explicit target for New Zealand to be in the 10 fastest-growing economies in the OECD, and require government policy to consider productivity

Te Pāti Māori wants to create a $1 billion fund for Māori-owned community energy projects, and a national Māori strategy for renewable energy and clean technologies for iwi and hapū that want to invest and develop businesses. 

The Greens broadly have a lot of focus on encouraging new low-emission industries by providing more government funding for research and developing new industries. The party has plans to prioritise the Māori economy in developing new low-emissions industries, by encouraging crown investment alongside iwi and hapū funds, and investing in regions which are most affected by climate change. 

Funding for renewable energy is high on the agenda (Image: The Spinoff/Getty Images)

Top wants to increase research and development tax credits and provide more funding for research scholarships and startups, as well as other bonuses for small businesses including digital grants and accelerated depreciation. 

The New Zealand economy needs to attract big money to grow, and for most parties the focus is getting investment from the rest of the world. 

Labour signed a partnership with investment firm Blackrock to launch a $2 billion fund to invest in renewable energy projects. 

Act wants to open up the rules so investors from other OECD countries don’t have to go through the Overseas Investment Office to get permission to invest in New Zealand (except for residential land). Top also wants to reduce barriers to attract foreign investments. 

National and NZ First both want to prevent foreign investment from converting farms into forestry for carbon credits, though National wants to allow foreigners to buy homes over $2 million at a 15% tax rate, and encourage foreign investment for build-to-rent housing. 

Te Pāti Maori wants to increase restrictions on foreign buyers, to stop sales of any freehold land, though it would allow leasehold sales. It also wants an increased 2% tax on foreign companies operating in New Zealand. 

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