25 May 2012

Thumbs up for tobacco tax, other measures fail to impress

12:10 pm on 25 May 2012

Radio New Zealand reporter Ruth Hill has been gauging reaction around the country to National's second zero Budget.

Manurewa mother of five Luani So'olefai said the Budget does nothing to help working families get ahead, and it's got her thinking seriously about moving to Australia.

She and husband Tim do not get the Working for Families tax credit because the occasional overtime they earn lifts them over the income threshold.

"We're just making it through pay day to pay day. There's no extra money for us to save for a house which has been our goal for the last couple of years."

Ms So'olefai said food prices had gone up so much, that from being able to fill a supermarket trolley for $200, she now has to spend a minimum of $300 to feed the family.

Hundreds of students joined demonstrations in Auckland and Wellington on Thursday to protest against increases to the student loan repayment rate from 10 cents in the dollar to 12 cents, the removal of student allowances for post-graduate study and the freezing of the parental threshold for accessing allowances.

Victoria University student Rory McCourt, 19, says the changes will make it uneconomic for graduates to stay in New Zealand.

Wellington mother-of-one Anya Zohrab, 35, says the 10% increase in excise tax on tobacco every year for four years may give her the push she needs to quit. "It'll be a good disincentive for me," she says.

After a couple of years on the DPB, Barry Rumsey has recently started working nights at a service station. He says the Government could do more to help low to middle-income earners like himself, such as making fresh food more affordable in comparison with junk food.

Another group being drawn into the revenue net is children with after school jobs, who will no longer get tax refunds.

William Bouden, 17, is in his final year at Whangarei Boys High and works in a fish and chip shop every Friday as well as mowing lawns for cash.

He says making children pay tax won't make difference to the Government coffers but will be a significant amount of money to many of them.

"I don't see the point taxing bunch of teenagers when people out there working long hours have got more money than us. Its not really going to bring in that much money I don't think."

Northland farmer and retailer Ian Walker says his shops are losing customers every week as people leave for Australia, and there's nothing in the budget that might persuade them to stay.

Mr Walker said the Budget is devoid of ideas that might lift rural New Zealand, in particular, out of the doldrums.