A backdown of epic proportions: How the capital gains tax died

A backdown of epic proportions: the capital gains tax (CGT) is dead. 

"Of course, it's disappointing that we've been unable to reach consensus," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Wednesday. 

Translation? Two words: Winston Peters. 

Ardern was asked at her press conference in Wellington if Peters' New Zealand First party bullied Ardern's Labour Party into making a decision.

She replied: "No."

Asked what the decision says about the state of the coalition Government that it couldn't agree on a CGT, she said: "It says that this is MMP."

It has been a flagship Labour policy since 2011 - but never again under Jacinda Ardern's leadership. 

"I've ruled it out - not something we'll campaign on nor implement under my leadership," she said. 

The Prime Minister announced the Government would not adopt a capital gains tax.
The Prime Minister announced the Government would not adopt a capital gains tax. Photo credit: Newshub

Ardern was asked how hard Labour fought for a CGT during negotiations, to which she replied: "As hard as we've fought every single election on it."

Peters was asked if New Zealand First was the most powerful party in Government, and his response: "Next question, please." 

But in case there was any confusion, a not-so-subtle reminder. 

"Let me remind you the Labour Party is in Government because of my party," he said. 

This is a huge blow to the Greens, who were true believers in a broad based CGT. 

Co-leader James Shaw held a press conference on Wednesday, and he was asked if the announcement was the biggest dead rat the Greens have had to swallow so far. 

"I don't kind of rank my list," he replied. 

In February, Shaw even questioned whether the Government deserved to be the Government again if it couldn't implement a CGT. 

"The only question we should be asking [is] do we deserve to be re-elected if we don't?"

The CGT would have made the Government $8 billion in five years. That was going to pay for tax cuts - cash back in your pocket. 

"That element is no longer on the table," Ardern said. 

This is a divided coalition Government - the Greens, Labour, and crucially the Prime Minister, did not get their way. 

"She's at the apex of her power and she hasn't been able to deliver," National leader Simon Bridges said on Wednesday - attempting to take credit for the U-turn. 

"National's been relentless about this - we've embarrassed the Government out of a capital gains tax." 

Peters said Bridges was wrong, and that "this surely is the final coffin in his political leadership". 

Shaw was asked who killed the CGT - Simon Bridges or Winston Peters. 

He responded: "Winston Peters is in Government and Simon Bridges is not."