Jacinda Ardern questions 'fairly heroic assumptions' in Green Party's wealth tax policy

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is questioning the "fairly heroic assumptions" in the Green Party's proposed guaranteed minimum income of at least $325 a week.

The Prime Minister and Labour leader did not expand on what parts of the policy she felt were "assumptions", but told The AM Show voters will "see some significant differences" between the Greens' tax plan and Labour's. 

"That is their policy it's not ours. We campaign on our own policies. We'll put our own tax policy out, so it's theirs, it's not ours, and I think it's important to recognise that individual parties will have their own policies," Ardern said on Monday. 

"The only other thing I would add is that based on some of the calculations I've seen I think there's some fairly heroic assumptions in there - but we do have a shared goal of reducing poverty."

The Greens plan to pay for their policy by introducing a wealth tax for those with a net-worth of more than $1 million, and introduce new top-tier tax brackets for the highest earners. 

The party is calling for a 1 percent tax on net assets over $1 million and 2 percent over $2 million. Housing wealth under a mortgage wouldn't count, nor would "normal household goods worth less than $50,000", including vehicles. 

The Greens believe the current unemployment benefit - which can be as low as $175.48 after tax - does not provide enough for Kiwis to live on, and that people need a guaranteed amount of money to get by. 

"Our Guaranteed Minimum Income will mean when people ask for help, they get it," Green co-leader Marama Davidson said. "It will replace the dehumanising and unliveable social safety net we currently have, which we know does not allow people to live good lives."

The policy has been dubbed an "envy tax" by critics like ACT leader David Seymour who says it is "wrong to idolise envy and punish success" and that those are "not the values of an ambitious and prosperous society". 

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters also described the policy as an "envy tax" and slammed it as "nuts" in a tweet on Sunday night. 

Labour campaigned on introducing a capital gains tax but the idea was ruled out in early 2019 after consensus on the policy couldn't be reached with New Zealand First - Labour's coalition partner.  

Ardern has ruled out campaigning on it again while she's leader. 

Duncan Garner, host of The AM Show, has accused the Greens of being "jealous of the rich", but said he agreed with their stance that the unemployment benefit is too low. 

The policy has been welcomed by the Child Poverty Action Group spokesperson Janet McAllister who says it's the type of change New Zealand needs. 

"This is the most coherent income support package that our researchers have seen from any political party so far... The Greens have set a high bar, and we look forward to seeing similarly thoughtful packages from all the parties."

You can read more about the Green's policy here.

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