Todd Muller rules out wealth tax under National, says Labour-Greens will drag New Zealand into debt

Todd Muller.
Todd Muller. Photo credit: Getty Images

The Labour-Greens will accrue huge amounts of debt and tax hard-working Kiwis "out of existence" if they're re-elected, Todd Muller says, vowing that his National Party will "create an economy that creates jobs".

Muller, who took over as National leader in May, made the comments after being asked about the Greens' new Guaranteed Minimum Income (GMI) policy on Monday.

The policy, unveiled on Sunday, proposes that each Kiwi is given at least $325 a week to live on, paid for by introducing a new wealth tax. It's an attempt to boost the unemployment benefit, which can drop to as low as $175.48.

Muller says National "don't see the need to increase taxes".

"The economic plan is a few days away and we'll outline that in a reasonably substantive form," he told Magic Talk host Peter Williams. "But in terms of tax, we're very clear: we don't see the need.

"The difference in philosophy will be quite clear in this election between the Labour-Greens view - which is accrue as much debt as necessary, don't really value money, it doesn't matter what the number gets to, and seek to try and pay it off by taxing people - [and] our view."

National's leader says he finds it "extraordinary" that amidst the economic damage wreaked by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Greens' philosophy is to "squeeze the people who have worked hard all their lives and are working hard now".

"They're exactly the kind of people that you need to drive the economy and the recovery - not tax them out of existence. It's just such a fundamentally different philosophy between our view and theirs."

Muller says the Greens' philosophy is "tied at the hip with Labour" - but Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has moved to distance her party from the Greens' announcement over the weekend.

On Monday, she said the Labour Party's policy would "look very different" and criticised the Greens for "fairly heroic assumptions" in its GMI.

"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 told The AM Show.

"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."

Muller told Magic Talk on Monday his plan to close the gap between rich and poor was by "creating an economy that creates jobs".

"There will be no new taxes from the next National Government, and that could not be more distinctive than what the Labour-Greens will serve up for this country," he said.

"We bequest this Government an economy that was growing at 4 percent a year… All of that had gone before COVID.

"We were in a deficit, we had people on the dole rising rapidly, they took all the incentives that we put on the table to ensure that people readied themselves for work actually got themselves in the right state to be employed

"That's where you put your focus – not by saying 'oh well, the way we close the gap is tax those who have worked hard and achieved'... That is a recipe for failure."