Jacinda ran out of magic pixie dust

Labour’s Wonder Woman has found herself cast in a long-running soap opera – but not as a super hero.

The National Party-scripted plot never varies from one election to the next, but the show never fails to draw big ratings.

Once again, Labour has been tripped up over tax policy. The only difference this time is that the major Opposition party has been even more helpful by having a whole range of new taxes in its manifesto.

The puzzle is why alarm bells did not ring at Labour’s headquarters given the scale of the free gift.

But maybe everyone was too consumed with playing the equivalent of Russian roulette by trying to sneak a capital gains tax past voters without them noticing.

The tax was the early product of Ardern’s Brave New World – a world where she intends demonstrating Labour can make the hard decisions.

It took precious little time for Labour to back off the idea as fast as decency allowed. “Let’s do this” became “Let’s not do that”.

Labour made a huge mistake.  Instead of focusing on getting into government, they got caught up in the excitement of also trying to squeeze through a minor revolution while we were all distracted by Jacinda’s smile.  

The attempt to short-circuit the usual process for introducing a reform of such magnitude is likely to prove to be wholly counter-productive.

Who in their right political mind is going to go into bat for the measure at the 2020 election?

Ardern and Robertson have killed off any chance of a capital gains tax making it on to the statute books for the foreseeable future.

Given the desperate need for such an asset tax to remove the distortions which encourage investment in non-productive sectors like residential property, that is a disaster for the country.

It should also be a big and timely lesson for Labour’s leader in the art of the possible. And that substance is exponentially more important than mere style.

They have (had?) one job:  Get into government.

Shows you how essentially incompetent they are.  They can’t even focus on the prize once every three years.


– John Armstrong, NZ Herald


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