Thursday, 29 April 2010

Nanny Turia takes a leaf from Nanny Palmer’s playbook to make tobacco leaf more expensive [update 5]

So Parliament sat under urgency last night. Excuse me, extreme urgency.

Not to stop the imposition of new taxes, via the Emissions Trading Taxes, which from July 1st will be adding new taxes on power and petrol and much else.

Not to cut company taxes, which might allow NZ’s struggling businesses to get off the floor.

Not to cut income taxes, one of National’s headline election promises which is destined to remain broken.

Not to take GST off food, which would make things easier for low-income folk.

No, it wasn’t sitting under urgency for any of those things.  It was sitting under urgency—excuse me, extreme urgency—so it could whack a new tax on one of the simple pleasures of thousands of New Zealanders.  Hitting (at the behest of the Maori Party) right at the wallets of low-income folk, who are by and large the largest smokers.  Nanny Turia taking a leaf from Nanny Palmer’s playbook to take out the big stick.

The announcement was made in the manner of Muldoon—a late announcement that by midnight the present usurious tax on tobacco would be hiked immediately by another ten-percent on packets of cigarettes, and twenty-four percent on loose tobacco—with more new theft to come next year, and the year after.  And as it was under the Muldoon announcements, folk impacted by the hike headed off to their regular retailers to stock up on their chosen pleasures before the rise.

It was all just like the old days, really. Another National Government whacking on taxes after dark to make enjoying one of life’s little pleasures more difficult.  New taxes on an already over-taxed pleasure.

What will this mean for smokers, who for the most part are low-income folk? Look at it this way:  for a packet of 25 cigarettes now costing around $14.40, without all the the taxes that packet would cost you just $3.40.  All the rest is tax. 

The “thinking” behind last night’s tax hike, if any actual thought was involved here, is that higher taxes will reduce people's smoking. This is “thinking” at its lowest possible ebb.  Smoking is nobody’s business but the smoker’s. Smokers already pay far more than the “social cost” of any possible harm. And smokes are a highly inelastic purchase—meaning that instead of reducing the number of smokes the smoker buys because of the higher cost, it’s just as likely that smokers will reduce their purchase of everything else instead (and the govt will reap a huge windfall). Or they will simply hand their money over to gangs to provide them with more affordable black-market smokes.

So even if you don’t smoke yourself, what this move will do is further encourage the government to tax the hell out of all of life’s little pleasures (smokers are today’s lepers; who’s next?), and to further increase the profits of the gangs.  Smart, huh? No, it’s not.

So it’s a thoughtless, grasping move to placate a party—the Maori Party—who you would think, for all that they’ve been given, that they have secret photos of John Key stashed away somewhere. (Wouldn’t you love to take a peek in Tariana & Pita’s safe to see what they’ve got locked up there?)

And as at least one former ACT supporter wants to know, it now begs the question: how long will ACT go on supporting a government committed to everything the ACT party was once presumed to oppose.  “Where is the line, Rodney?” a blogger at Clint Heine’s blog wants to know.

Well, it’s clearly not this new tax rise, because at least one ACT party MP voted for it . . .

    Clearly there are a lot of proposals, and some, such as raising the alcohol excise, are perhaps aspirational, but the Government will give due consideration to the entirety of the report.
    ‘I look forward to working with my Ministerial colleagues on doing that and drawing out the recommendations that will best achieve an environment where responsible alcohol use marks the New Zealand drinking culture,’ he said.

    “Breathing is aspirational as well, yet the Government seems to favour that. So what's the difference? Class, that's what…
    “Mr Key is Mr Reponsible Drinking. But he is as likely to be seen with a fag as to grow a beard. Prime Ministers do not do that sort of thing anymore… Smoking is a poor man's addiction, as Mrs Turia observes.”


  1. Could an ACT apologist please explain to me how an ACT MP could support a tax increase if ACT - as has been claimed by some - advocates individual freedom and lower taxes?


  2. They claim that they wish to stop people smoking with this move, but then spread the increase over three installments. If they actually wanted to make people stop, rather than just rorting them for it, they'd do the whole increase at once. I imagine a 30% hike in one hit would actually motivate some people to stop. (I'm not saying they should, I'm just saying it's evidence that they're lying about their reasons).

  3. Well said PC. Rodney Hide was interviewed on Newstalkm ZB and did a good job of stressing the Nanny angle which the gummint have taken on this issue.

    Libz press release is in the pipeline.

  4. Every day my disgust with this govt deepens.

  5. That's it for me. Next election I won't vote at all, since all politicians are fuckn' liars. Adios Rodney and ACT. They promised one thing and then do the opposite when they get to Parliament. I may entertain the idea of joining the Libz, but then again, I am a Christian, which I doubt very much that I would feel comfortable being told by objectivist faction of the party that my religious belief contradicts Libz ideologies.

    Perhaps, I can try something different by voting for Winston Peters.

  6. Lindsay, a commenter on your blog mentioned that ACT socialist MP, John Boscawen voted for it. This is fuckn' pathetic Mr. Boscawen? Stand for the National party as a candidate in the next election, because in fact, you're a cheerleader for being nanny .

  7. Expect more dairy owners to get shot, stabbed, and bashed.

  8. @ MichelleR: I suppose I'm part of that "Objectivist faction" who's in Libertarianz (although not a very active member). Speaking for myself, you'd be very welcome if you uphold Libz ideals. And I'd be surprised if any of my fellow 'faction' thought otherwise.

    It's a political party formed for a specific purpose, not a philosophy club. We don't have to agree on everything.

  9. Michelle R - Any interest in a new political party that will never sit in parliament, never have an MP, never steal your money from you?

    I'm thinking a protest party, instead of not voting and so giving the present bunch of morans (:)) the idea that everyone who does vote really, really likes their lying stealing ways you still vote but it is for a party who's manifesto prohibits it from ever being in parliament.

    It makes no difference to the "mainstream" parties but your protest vote still gets heard.

    What do people think?

  10. Michelle - join the Libz if you agree with our limited government views by all means. We don't mind if you have a religious faith, as long as you embrace the non-initiation of force principle.

  11. 'Sitting under urgency' just means 'we wanna ram this law through', just as they did with the anti-smacking law.

    Tobacco tax increase

    Peter, this might interest you:
    Bail conditions affect entire population

  12. @MichelleR

    The membership of the Libertarianz is diverse. There are athiests, christians, Hindu, agnostics, asians, Americans, British, Australians, Maori New Zealanders, non Maori New Zealanders, vegetarians, meateaters, vegans, afficionados of classical music, afficionados of rock music, heterosexuals, homosexuals, members who own guns, members who do not own guns, drinkers of alcohol, non-drinkers of alcohol, followers of rugby, of AFL, of soccer, lecturers, bankers, mothers, teachers etc

    You get the picture.

    But despite this diversity (which is of no relevance to the Libertarianz), there is one principle that all advocate, and that is on the political level: The non-initiation of force principle.

    And we actually mean it. Passionately and without compromsise.


  13. @Julian: There are non-drinkers of alcohol?! I'm outraged!


    BTW:, it's now over three hours since Julian made his first challenge--for an ACT supporter (or an ACT MP) to explain how an ACT MP could vote to support a tax increase if ACT - as has been claimed by some - advocates individual freedom and lower taxes?

    Come on now. We all know you're reading.

  14. A vote on tax is a supply/confidence issue, which ACT have pledged to support the government on. If they vote against, they are saying they no longer have confidence in the government. That's a big step. They have to decide whether they can achieve more by pissing on the tent from outside or being in the inside pissing out.

    Either way, they are pissing around.

  15. The extreme urgency is a good indicator of
    -the lack of depth of skills in parliament. Very few have had a proper job for long if at all, therefore don't understand the pressure they put on retailers to recalculate a new price and change their systems and pricing databases to reflect it
    - and the fact that even if they did realise, they don't give a fuck about inconveniencing people anyway. Most think that's what they are there for.

  16. @ Blair

    "A vote on tax is a supply/confidence issue, which ACT have pledged to support the government on."

    If this is a supply/confidence issue (the raising of tax), why then did four ACT MPs vote against it?

    If it was not a confidence and supply issue, why then did one ACT MP vote for a tax increase?


  17. Supply refers to the Annual Budget.

    I don't think this tax was part of the budget therefore it is not part of the confidence and supply agreement.

    ACT must vote in favour of the budget made by Cabinet and also vote in confidence of the Prime Minister.

  18. Richard McGrath quoted : What will be next – a tax on couches and TV sets because the government thinks people should get out of their lounges more often? A tax on large sizes of clothing because Nanny thinks too many people are fat?

    Haha, that tax on clothing will definitely affect fatass MPs such as Gerry Brownlee and Parekura Horomia. C'mon politicians, tax those fat motherfuckers.

  19. Re stockpiling (update #1):

    this law is intended to tell the proles - sorry, the lower socio-economic groups - that 'smoking is bad for you, children' (hence the 24% tax rise for loose tobacco). Those people rarely have the funds or the inclination to stockpile before a price increase.

    As I said in my post The best anti-smoking campaign is this: let smokers bear the full and true cost of their habit (asthma inhalers, oxygen tanks etc.). They will find that smoking is a lot less attractive than it is when everyone else in the country is paying for the consequences of their addiction.

  20. The best anti-smoking campaign is this: let smokers bear the full and true cost of their habit (asthma inhalers, oxygen tanks etc.). They will find that smoking is a lot less attractive than it is when everyone else in the country is paying for the consequences of their addiction.

    I think you'll find that even in countries where this is the case, it does not act as deterrent. Hell I know people who lost a father to lung cancer and still smoke a packet a day.

  21. This government removed the ban on junk food in schools because it said that it was better that children were educated so they could make informed discissions on what they eat – if they are so confident it would work for children who can only buy whatever junk they sell at the tuck shop then why wouldn’t this work for adults.

  22. Anonymous fool. Crims by definition have already initiated force, as have bludgers. Unionists may or may not.

    Besides, all other parties support initiating force against peaceful people by explicitly having such policies.


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