Watch Newshub Nation debate: ACT leader David Seymour and Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick clash over future of NZ's tax policy

Two politicians on polar opposite ends of the economic debate came on Newshub Nation on Saturday for a fiery debate about an issue integral to the country's economic management - tax. 

ACT leader David Seymour and Green MP and spokesperson for Revenue Chlöe Swarbrick sat down with host Rebecca Wright to debate the future of New Zealand's tax system. 

Both Swarbrick and Seymour were in agreement New Zealand's current tax system is unfair. However, that's where their common ground on the topic ran out. 

"The idea that we have an unfair tax system is true," Seymour said. "But not in the way a lot of people say."

Seymour said New Zealand's tax system is unfair because "you have a very small minority of people who carry the can for just about the whole of the country".

He then referred to the 23 percent of Kiwis who earn more than $70,000 dollars a year who pay about 80 percent of all taxes. 

"I don't think that is a fair system," he said. 

Swarbrick said New Zealand's tax system is unfair the other way around and referred to the tax report released by Revenue Minister David Parker this week

The report found middle-income New Zealanders effectively pay 20.2 percent in tax while the high-wealth families in the report effectively pay just 9.4 percent.

"For the first time, we have hard data confirming fundamental unfairness in our tax system," Parker said.

Swarbrick said the report confirms "what a lot of New Zealanders have suspected for a really long time". 

"Our tax system and, therefore, the way our economy is set up is fundamentally unfair because it privileges wealth hoarding."

Swarbrick said this imbalance leads to "pretty counterproductive outcomes in terms of the flow of investment and, therefore, the flow on effects to productivity".

She also believes the tax not taken from these high-wealth individuals and families "starves our public systems such as health and infrastructure". 

"These things can be fixed," she said, "It's just a matter of political willpower."

However, Seymour said increased revenue from higher taxes on the wealthy would not address the issues currently facing public services. 

"If the attitudes and values are based on take take take, rather than creating the conditions for people to invest, to innovate, to create higher paying, more interesting jobs, then we are just not going to get there."  

Seymour disputed Swarbrick's use of high-tax Nordic countries as an example of how New Zealand should operate. 

"Those countries became wealthy when they actually had lower, flatter taxes than almost anywhere," he said. 

"Since the '70s they introduced high taxes and they've basically stagnated economically."

Seymour went on to say "New Zealand is a country that needs to grow", going so far as to say Aotearoa is "in danger of losing its first-world status".

Swarbrick responded by saying "we frequently hear that education is a pathway out of poverty". 

"Parental income is the major determinant of educational success in this country and we can make the requisite investment in public services that makes all of our lives better, increases our wellbeing, and makes all of us more productive and contributing and participatory members of our society." 

Watch their full debate for more.

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