Simon Bridges takes the initiative on tax

National leader Simon Bridges

Simon Bridges has taken the initiative and, to a certain extent, has stolen the government’s thunder. On the day that the Tax Working Group presented its report to Cabinet, Bridges made his ‘state of the nation ‘speech and taxation was right at the heart of it.

Love him or hate him, this was smart. We are going to be arguing about tax, particularly about capital gains tax, for the next year and a half. Simon Bridges took the initiative and offered a tax cut for everyone as soon as National get back into government.

What is smart about this is that the TWG has promised to make the results of capital gains tax fiscally neutral. To do this, they will probably offer some tax cuts at the lower income levels, or maybe an adjustment to the existing tax thresholds. Simon has stolen their thunder on this. Now, if they propose something along these lines, (even though they were probably always going to do this), they are going to look as if they are just copying what National has promised, not wanting to be seen as being too money grabbing, particularly on the back of the introduction of capital gains tax.

Think about what he is saying. If you vote National, you get a tax cut. If you vote Labour, you get capital gains tax. You might also get a tax cut (although they have not indicated this yet) but you may be affected by the new taxes being introduced by a tax-and-spend government.

Whatever Labour does, they are now going to be seen to be behind the eight-ball on tax.

The only people who won’t care about a move in tax thresholds are those that don’t pay tax, most of whom vote Labour. Bridges is not interested in them. He wants to attract the swinging voters – those that may have voted Labour or NZ First last time, but are looking at possibly voting National in 2020.

So how did the media react to National’s stroke of genius? Well, how do you think? quote.

Politics is about engagement with your audience, about selling the sizzle and about having them leave the meeting hall in no doubt that you’re the pair of hands they want on the economic tiller.

Simon Bridges’ State of the Nation speech in Christchurch should have been a breeze, he was preaching for half an hour to the converted.

An autocue would have helped, the Perspex screen that pops the words up in front of you and allows you to at least pretend to be engaging with the audience.

Most other leaders have used them but not Bridges, who was insistent on reading his notes, not deviating from the words typed in front of him, although despite his concentration, he misread a figure he spent the closing months of last year rehearsing, the $300 million he claims Labour’s spent on working groups because they didn’t do the work themselves in opposition.

A Newspaper end quote.

Barry Soper decided to concentrate more on Bridges’ poor delivery than on the content of his speech. He failed to see what National is doing. All he could do was put Bridges down for not presenting particularly well whilst failing to see that National may already have dealt a killer blow to Labour’s upcoming tax policy.

Bridges may have made a poor presentation but such is the bias of the media against the opposition that they fail to see what National is doing. They are going to take it to the government on tax. This is the start of a lot of focus on tax for the next year and a half – right up to the next election, in fact.

National has shown that it is going to fight this one all the way. It is a shame that Soper could not see beyond the fact that Bridges had to rely on his notes and didn’t present well. Once again, the media shows its bias. Nothing new there.