14 Oct 2020

Judith Collins says Greens 'unemployable' in latest wealth tax attack

2:27 pm on 14 October 2020

National leader Judith Collins has continued her attacks on the Green Party, saying she always thought them all unemployable.

Judith Collins in Hamilton on 14 October

Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

Collins has spent much of her time in recent days warning voters about the Greens' proposed wealth tax, arguing Labour leader Jacinda Ardern would break her promise not to introduce it.

Both leaders held simultaneous media briefings this morning, and fielded questions about the issue.

Ardern has consistently said the Greens' wealth tax would be off the table in any coalition negotiations, and was again emphatic, saying Collins' position showed National was desperate.

"Obviously I've already ruled it out. The fact that the opposition continue to raise it is a desperate tactic in the closing days of the campaign ... I have made my position and Labour's position very, very clear. We have ruled it out.

"We're having to deal with the desperation and misinformation of the National Party. We said right from the beginning that we wanted this campaign to be accurate, we wanted it to be a debate on facts, and so it is incredibly disappointing to see the continued misinformation by the National Party, so we're being very, very clear and firm on our position."

Jacinda Ardern. Labour members were in Lower Hutt today to visit Abstract Designs in Petone, do a walkabout in Queesngate Mall, and then went to a rally at in Wellington at Victoria University. 13 Oct 2020.

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone 

"We've ruled it out. This is not up for discussion. It's not in play, so there's no need for the hypothetical. I won't allow it to happen as prime minister."

Regardless of National's position, Ardern says not is not the time for experimental taxes.

"One of the reasons we have ruled out the Green Party policy is because no other country has this form of taxation. Now is not the time to be experimenting with tax policy when we need to focus on our economic recovery."

Collins would not budge, saying she believed her concerns were very real, and rejecting the claims of desperation.

"No, I think they're very real ... she shouldn't go into name calling. "

She took her attacks on the Green Party further still, saying the Greens "didn't really pay taxes before entering Parliament".

"Well, most of them are unemployable I always thought. The whole lot of them. Don't mean to be nasty but there we go, it's the truth."

She says having co-leader Marama Davidson as deputy prime minister "would be challenging for the country".

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Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

"I hope she stays as leader of the Greens, I think it's excellent."

She says that while tax evasion is illegal, people who have assets and capital tend to spend a lot of time trying to work out how they can avoid it.

"Tax evasion is illegal, however arranging one's affairs as people do to minimise their tax is actually tax planning and it's important to understand that. But let's hope that that's not needed.

"We will see a capital flight should the wealth tax come in, I want everyone to understand that and what that means is there's not money to do other things."

"What is wrong is actually looking at someone else and saying with this horrible envy and thinking 'they've got more than me therefore I want to take it'. I don't want to be that sort of person."

She says the other parties are all miserable.

"They are though, aren't they? I mean they're always looking at things. No-one is as cheerful as the National Party."

Ardern says she has been described as many things, "but miserable has never been one of them, so that's another one out of the box from Judith Collins today".

"Obviously we haven't spent enough time getting to know one another."

Ardern says it is ridiculous for Collins on Newshub this morning to hint that James Shaw as deputy prime minister might override Ardern's promise.

"That is not only desperate, it's also ridiculous so I also reject that.

"National, obviously their most likely partner would be ACT who want to freeze any minimum wage changes for three years and who want a flat tax. We, however, are not accusing National of adopting those policies."

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