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English favouring tax incentives

National says it wants to do a demolition job on Labour's super policy before announcing its own plans.

Monday, October 22nd 2001, 10:34PM

by Rob Hosking

Tax incentives for savings are possibly on the agenda if a Bill English-led National government comes to power.

English told a Wellington Regional Chamber of Commerce breakfast meeting last week that the party was engaged in policy development on the issue, with either tax breaks or some form of compulsory scheme on the agenda.

English says that although Australia's compulsory scheme is one worth looking at, he was "leaning more towards tax incentives," at the moment.

He also said that one of the reasons he held onto the finance portfolio is that superannuation is one of three key policies still being worked on in that area, along with tax and public investment. English wants to see that policy development through to completion before handing over the portfolio.

But it is superannuation which attracted his fire at the meeting. In response to questions from the audience:

"Dr Cullen has a plan for your surpluses – he is going to invest them. And as we have seen over recent months he is New Zealand’s top commercial negotiator."

To a questioner who quibbled that National had yet to announce its own policy, and that the party was insufficiently clear about what it stood for, English said that the party had moved to accept that the current entitlements should stay.

However, National had first to do a demolition job to do on the government’s fund before it would announce its own.

Not for the first time, he expressed irritation at the lack of widespread debate about the government’s scheme and its implications.

"I think we should be very sceptical about any scheme that tells us how the world will be in 40 years time, which is what this one does."

Rob Hosking is a Wellington-based freelance writer specialising in political, economic and IT related issues.

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