KiwiSaver U-turn dubbed 'a mess whichever way you look at it'

The Government's U-turn on its proposed GST on KiwiSaver fees is being described as a "political mess" after the legislation was ditched less than 24 hours after it was introduced.

Revenue Minister David Parker wanted to add GST on KiwiSaver fees that would've seen investors $103 billion poorer by 2070. 

After public outrage, Parker on Wednesday afternoon announced the changes would not be going ahead.  

Political commentator Josie Pagani told Newshub Live at 8pm the backlash wouldn't have been so harsh if they'd consulted the right people in the first place.

"The political management of this has been a mess whichever way you look at it," she told host Rebecca Wright on Wednesday.

"Whichever way you look at it; either they're sneaky, either they're incompetent or they're shivering, looking for a spine to run up and don't have the courage to fight for something they believe in - none of it's good."

Pagani said voters never react well when Governments try to sneak policies through Parliament.

Critics had a field day as a result, she said.

"It plays into the narrative of them being a bit secretive, a bit sneaky but it also plays into the narrative of them being a bit incompetent when it comes to implementing policy because actually, I think there's a good case to make for this piece of legislation - even though they don't want to make it now."

Political commentator and former National Party ministerial advisor Brigitte Morten said the U-turn showed the Government was under pressure and "out of touch".

"What we've had in the last 24 hours is a lot of media, a lot of concern but they weren't really out in the communities, they weren't talking to voters directly that they got this feedback," she told Newshub Late on Wednesday. "What they've seen is probably realising how damaging it's going to be for them in the polls and that's been the backflip."

Morten believed the Opposition had acted quickly to criticise the Government and capitalise.

"It really shows for them that they can continue with this message, and have it as a credible message, that this Government is going to continue to tax big and spend big," Morten said. "It just looked like another tax grab from this Government."

Parker on Wednesday admitted the move was embarrassing but denied the Government tried to sneak the legislation through without the public knowing.

He believed the proposal was misrepresented.

"We would obviously have preferred that the people we thought would come out in support of this had," Parker said. "The fact that they haven't caused us to reverse our position. We think that was the right thing to do as the furore around this was denting public confidence in KiwiSaver."