Days to the General Election: 27
See Party Policies here. Party Lists here.

New Labour Leader Andrew Little chooses Grant Robertson as Finance Spokesman; Little talks up wealth taxes and KiwiBuild, but talks down Capital Gains Tax

New Labour Leader Andrew Little chooses Grant Robertson as Finance Spokesman; Little talks up wealth taxes and KiwiBuild, but talks down Capital Gains Tax
Andrew Little/Picture by Lynn Grieveson-Hive News.

By Bernard Hickey

New Labour Leader Andrew Little has chosen former deputy leader Grant Robertson in the key role of Finance Spokesman, despite his leadership rival's lack of obvious economic or finance experience.

Robertson, who was an arts graduate, former diplomat and political advisor to Helen Clark, lost to Little by just 1.04% in the Labour Leadership contest.

Little said Robertson's apparent lack of finance experience was not an issue, pointing to Finance Minister Bill English's English's degree and former Labour Finance Minister Michael Cullen's background as a social historian and academic.

"What we need is intellectual competence and capability and Grant has that in spades," he said.

Little appointed Annette King as his Deputy Leader for a year, and said his initial shadow cabinet would have a year to prove itself. He said he would be spending a lot of time away from Parliament consulting with voters.

"I need to know I have a deputy back here with experience who can take charge at the helm while I'm out of the office," he said.

Little repeated that Labour would review its policies and Robertson's stated desire for a Capital Gains Tax did not change Little's own view that Labour should not have a Capital Gains Tax on its policy platform at the 2017 election.

'Other forms of wealth taxes'

Over the weekend, Little gave more detailed comments about taxing wealth and pushing back against rental property investors with multiple properties.

Little told TV3's The Nation that he wanted to look at options other than a Capital Gains Tax to push back against large professional property investors. He repeated his support for Labour's KiwiBuild policy of building 100,000 houses in 10 years.

"Let's look at taxes on wealth. Let's look at property speculators. Not the mums and dads who do all the extra overtime, get a bit of money aside and buy themselves an investment property that they use for their retirement," Little said.

"Let's look at the people who are buying 8, 10, 12 houses. Let's look at the people who are buying houses one day (and) 18 months later selling them again," he said.

He declined to say how many houses were too many, saying those issues would be for officials to examine in Government, but he also suggested other measures to control property speculators.

"There is the issue of how we deal with property speculators – those people who are in and out of houses, clearly doing it as a business. Clearly doing it to raise income, but are inflating house prices," he said.

"So there's talk now about, 'Do you have special conditions? Special interest rates for after you've bought your first house?'

Other portfolios

Elsewhere, Little re-appointed Phil Twyford as Housing and Transport spokesman, Jacinda Ardern as Justice spokeswoman and Kelvin Davis as Police spokesman. David Shearer kept Foreign Affairs, while David Parker was awarded Trade and the Shadow Attorney General portfolio.

David Cunliffe was named Regional Development, Tertiary Education and Science and Innovation spokesman.

Robertson later issued a statement saying the Government's challenge was to support an economy delivering good, sustainable jobs paying decent wages.

“It’s time the economy delivered for all New Zealanders, not just the fortunate few," he said.

“The economy should work for people, not the other way around. I will campaign for reform to monetary policy, savings and the tax system to ensure a fair go for all, with people put first," he said.

“As a country we need a plan to address the changing nature of work. Technological changes mean that work as we know it today for many people will not exist in the decades to come.  At the moment the National Government is doing precious little to prepare New Zealand to address these issues."

“National made big promises to New Zealanders that their wages would rise, the books would be in surplus and exports would increase. They are struggling on all counts, and already different stories are emerging from John Key and Bill English. I will hold them to account.”

(Updated with comments from Robertson)

We welcome your comments below. If you are not already registered, please register to comment.

Remember we welcome robust, respectful and insightful debate. We don't welcome abusive or defamatory comments and will de-register those repeatedly making such comments. Our current comment policy is here.


Jeez, what is it with the left and tax policies designed to keep us poor ?
John Key must be laughing like a drain at this type of ignorance about people and taxes
Firstly , anyone buying and selling 8 or 10 or 12 houses is in the house trading business and is already subject to  30 % company tax on the profits
So what on earth is a Wealth Tax ?
Whats the criteria ........ 2 cars ?
$1,000 in the bank
A paid up mortgage at age 60?
If you own a swimming pool are you considered wealthy ?
Why prevent people from saving a little nest egg for their retirement ?
What will they do with the money they confiscate ( or try to confiscate ) from the middle class?
Did NZ Labour not learn anything from Labour parties anywhere ?
You will NEVER win an election by promising to take more money away from the electorate ............NEVER .
Think of Turkeys voting for Christmas

prevent people saving for their retirement?
First we need to get rid of income tax, because that is clearly preventing people from working, and you can't save if you're not working.

I think houses are a terrible investment , and tenants are too much hassle , so I dont own any rental houses , and prefer listed commercial property Companies for my exposure to property.
But , this misdirected onslaught against property investors is just that ........... misdirected .
Someone should Andrew Little just  who is going to provide rental houses for the 50,000 new migrants we are getting in the next 12 months
I doubt it very much they HNZ , already have a 4000 house units shortfall .
And he should note that it was Helen Clarke's Labour administration that put the incentives in place for property investors in the first place , when she realised that State could not provide enough houses for all of us

Parker quoted Treasury Paper 14-10 to English on immigration. Maybe Little doesn't like that.
I watched Little mooing in parliament over refugees: " NZ has always given socour " he bellowed.

Days to the General Election: 27
See Party Policies here. Party Lists here.