Christopher Luxon rules out new taxes, says 'relief is happening'

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon says near-term tax cuts will happen and no new taxes will be delivered in the Budget due on May 30. 

Many Opposition MPs have been calling out Luxon and the Coalition for prioritising tax cuts while cutting back services, including possible plans to lower school lunch spending

"There won't be any new taxes in the Budget," Luxon said in an interview with Newstalk ZB.

"I need to be able to go through and make sure all our moving pieces, across the whole of our Budget, are all signed off... don't misinterpret that as a lack of intention to deliver tax relief in July and, also, no new taxes." 

Throughout last year's election campaign, Luxon said his priority was to deliver tax cuts. 

"We are going to deliver tax relief for lower-middle income, working New Zealanders," he told AM on Tuesday. "That is a big commitment of ours, we think that's entirely appropriate, in a cost of living crisis, that lower-middle-income workers who are paying their taxes, working incredibly hard... deserve to keep more of their own money."

On Monday, former Reserve Bank economist Michael Reddell said now wasn't the time for tax cuts - given the size of the Government's fiscal hole. 

And Jordan Williams, the co-founder of the Taxpayers' Union, said talk of relief was "just giving with one hand while promising to keep taking more and more with the other", unless Luxon "got serious about ending... stealth tax hikes by the back door". 

Regardless, Luxon told AM host Melissa Chan-Green it is the Government's intention to deliver the tax cuts in July. 

"As you know, this time between now until the Budget in May, there's a lot of moving pieces," he said.

"We're very pleased with the progress that we've made generating savings and we've made sure that the tax relief is fundable by making sure we've got revenue-generating mechanisms to capture revenue.

"It's happening - we're going to deliver tax relief to lower-middle income New Zealanders."

Labour leader Chris Hipkins criticised the Government's "simply wrong" priorities and said the cuts were unaffordable. 

Last week, he said the Coalition was putting "everyday Kiwis at the bottom of their priority list". 

"We've been waiting to hear their plan. Waiting to see if they have a vision for New Zealand," he said. 

"Now we know for certain that they are not governing for all New Zealanders but for themselves." 

Luxon said the Government has "inherited a deteriorating set of economics and a pretty bad set of books".

"Good Governments - responsible Governments - need to... make sure you can end the wasteful spending, deliver tax relief and, importantly, protect frontline services," he told AM.

"Let's be clear... it's taken six years to get to this position because of economic mismanagement that's come before us.

"It won't be all solved in one Budget, but what we are determined to do is... make sure we are [a] good, prudent, responsible Government and good economic managers.

"That will take... several years of just consistently building a culture of financial discipline - that's what we're going to do."