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Christopher Luxon wants to get on with it (Photo by Dave Rowland/Getty Images)
Christopher Luxon wants to get on with it (Photo by Dave Rowland/Getty Images)

The BulletinSeptember 14, 2023

Smouldering doubts about National’s tax costings could be set to catch alight

Christopher Luxon wants to get on with it (Photo by Dave Rowland/Getty Images)
Christopher Luxon wants to get on with it (Photo by Dave Rowland/Getty Images)

Last night, both TV news networks previewed modelling landing today that may raise further questions about the credibility of National’s foreign buyer tax plan, writes Anna Rawhiti-Connell in this excerpt from The Bulletin, The Spinoff’s morning news round-up. To receive The Bulletin in full each weekday, sign up here.

Second major poll puts National and Act in position to govern

Last night’s 1News Verian poll is now the second major poll this week to put National and Act in position to govern. National was up 2 on the last Verian poll at 39%, Labour was down 1, on 28%, the Greens on 10% (down 2) and Act came in at 10%. That would give National and Act 62 seats and while NZ First came in above the threshold at 5% and would return to parliament, National and Act wouldn’t need support from the party to form a government.

Similar questions, different results

It’s probably quite understandable that some of you might be feeling some poll fatigue at this juncture, but the proximity of the Newshub Reid Research and 1News Verian polls this week has thrown up something interesting on a couple of peripheral questions and raised an interesting issue about how the framing of questions can yield what appear to be quite contradictory results. The Reid Research poll had a question about National’s foreign buyer tax, asking voters: “Should New Zealand let overseas buyers purchase homes over $2 million if they pay a tax?” 53% said yes, while 36% said no. The 1News Verian poll asked: “Do you support or oppose foreigners being allowed to buy existing homes in New Zealand that are worth more than $2 million?” 39% supported National's plan while 46% opposed it. The rest didn't know or preferred not to say. The Newshub poll added the tax carrot, while the 1News poll did not.

1News Verian poll and Newshub Reid Research poll questions on foreign buyer tax (Source: Screenshots, 1 News and Newshub)

Nicola Willis sticking to deadline of introducing tax cuts by next July

National leader Christopher Lxuon has spent the week dancing around questions about the credibility of the modelling for its $14.6b election campaign tax cut centrepiece. Luxon refused to agree to release the party’s specific modelling for calculating how much money it would get from taxing foreign house purchases when pressed by Jack Tame on Q&A on Sunday, sticking with the line that it expects it to bring in $740m each year. Luxon was pressed again by Corin Dann on RNZ’s Morning Report yesterday about whether the Prefu forecasts should prompt a rethink on its tax policy. Dann presented Luxon with a  list of economists who do not believe National's tax plan adds up. Luxon initially laughed in response but went on to deny the plan would be fiscally irresponsible. Speaking to Stuff, National’s finance spokesperson Nicola Willis is sticking by her deadline of introducing tax cuts by next July, saying she expects to have the majority of the public service “savings” needed to fund this plan done by Christmas.

Modelling due out today to cast further doubt

Newshub’s Amelia Wade asked Luxon about the impact of the plan on the housing market while out on the campaign trail yesterday. No concrete answers were provided. New figures out yesterday showed a slight uptick in New Zealand's average house prices, the first quarter of positive growth since late 2021. Wade later revealed that Treasury advice from 2019 relating to requests from foreigners to exempt luxury homes from the foreign buyer ban because they weren't competing with first-home buyers, was explicit about not doing that because demand for land to develop luxury homes drives up prices of land for more affordable housing. Both 1News’ Maiki Sherman and Wade previewed modelling due out today from economists that looks set to cast even more doubt on National’s plan, with Wade saying that the economists are from across the political spectrum and the modelling shows that National’s plan comes up short.

Keep going!