Debate on scrapping GST on kai heads to Parliament

Posted 18 February 2024 by Moana Ellis
Rawiri Waititi

Rawiri Waititi says said nothing in the government agenda is addressing poverty. Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

Whanganui MP Carl Bates says removing GST from fruit and veges would not give much relief to Kiwi families.

Te Pāti Māori co-leader Rawiri Waititi’s members’ bill to scrap GST on kai will be debated in the House after being drawn from the ballot.

The Waiariki member says for the past three years Te Pāti Māori has been calling on the previous and current governments to “implement real change” and address the cost-of-living crisis.

“Food is a right and a necessity that should never be taxed, especially during a cost-of-living crisis that a government is failing to address,” Waititi said.

“The regressive nature of GST is one that will always hurt low-income families the hardest.”

The legislation would amend the Goods and Services Tax Act 1985 to remove GST from all food products and non-alcoholic beverages.

But Bates, a National MP, said the real winner would be supermarket owners.

“Experts say removing GST off fruit and vege would be a complex policy, and that it is smarter to cut out ‘the middle man’ and provide tax relief, as the government will do,” Bates said.

Waititi said this week that removing GST from kai would be the start of “the radical shake-up” the country’s taxation system needed.

“I am calling on all parties in the house to support my bill.

“We have had overwhelming support on the Te Pāti Māori petition to remove GST off kai. In a Newshub poll, over 70 percent of people supported the move prior to the election.

“It is clear the people want GST to be removed from their grocery bills.”

Waititi said nothing in the government agenda was addressing poverty.

“In fact, they are only designing policy that contributes to it.

“We have a coalition government who have repealed the rights of workers in their first week of power, to just this week aligning benefits to a system designed to keep them poor.

“Through their agenda of repeal and stop, the gap between the richest 2 percent and the other 98 percent continues to widen.”

LDR is local body journalism co-funded by RNZ and NZ On Air.