Greens co-leader Marama Davidson slams NZ's tax system, says it's 'emboldening inequality'

Greens co-leader Marama Davidson has slammed New Zealand's tax system, saying it's "really crappy" at reducing inequality and is actually 'emboldening inequality'. 

Newshub revealed on Tuesday the Oxfam international inequality index found New Zealand ranks 136th out of 161 countries when it comes to fair wealth distribution. 

The index found our tax policies rank just 91st in the world while our labour rights place us in 74th. 

Oxfam was also critical of New Zealand supermarkets which took home excess profits of more than a million dollars a day while Kiwis were all locked down.

"Some people are doing quite well and a lot of people are struggling," said Dr Jo Spratt, Oxfam Aotearoa communications and advocacy director.

Davidson told AM Early on Thursday New Zealand's tax system needs an overhaul.

"Oh my goodness, the Greens have been thinking and talking about this for decades that we must ensure that we redesign our tax system to be one that is actually fair and equal with strong public services," Davidson told AM Early fill-in host Oriini Kaipara.

Davidson said we need to avoid tax cuts that she says will "absolutely" affect New Zealand's public services.

"[We need] a tax system that has a strong income support net, so that everyone is able to live good lives, is able to live with dignity," she said.

"Right now, our tax system is really crappy at reducing inequality. In fact, it is strengthening, it is emboldening inequality."

Davidson said the Greens are calling for a capital gains tax or wealth tax to allow all Kiwis to live with dignity. 

"So we've always been really clear one of the most simple levers to pull to ensure everyone can live with dignity, not just the wealthy few, is by bringing in a capital gains tax or a wealth tax," she told AM Early. 

"This is something that we've been openly calling for for quite some time. So those are some of the levers that we've been really clear about and have solid policy on."

Greens co-leader Marama Davidson says New Zealand's "emboldening inequality".
Greens co-leader Marama Davidson says New Zealand's "emboldening inequality". Photo credit: AM

Dr Spratt said New Zealand's "tax system isn't fair" while Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern admits the scales could be better balanced.

"I think every Government would acknowledge there's ways you can continue to ensure fairness," Ardern said. 

The pandemic years have seen what's being called a global inequality explosion. But while the Prime Minister acknowledges the unfairness, she's ruled out both a capital gains tax and a wealth tax - which experts say are the easiest ways to level the playing field.

Watch the full interview with Marama Davidson above.