Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Will CGT sink Labour's boat?

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Labour’s much-vaunted Capital Gains Tax is starting to look like the old much-despised death duties in disguise. When Labour introduced GST back in 1986 they sensibly resisted calls to exclude certain items of food from the tax. This would be an “administrative nightmare” they quite rightly said at the time. They are not heeding their own advice when on this occasion they have promised to exclude the family home from the new property tax.

John Key made a hit of “show us the money” proportions when he asked David Cunliffe in The Press leader’s debate in Christchurch, “Did the tax apply to those people who have put their home into a family trust?” Cunliffe was unable to answer on the spot, but later, after taking advice, assured voters that it didn’t.

This opened a whole can of worms about the tax and questions were subsequently asked as to when it did and when it did not apply. For instance: When your parents passed on, did the inherited family home attract the tax? The architect of the tax three years ago, David Cunliffe, when he was the shadow finance of minister under Phil Goff, said it would not apply as long as you sold your parents’ home within a month.

Within a month?

Imagine squabbling siblings deciding on a programme of marketing and selling the family home within a month. And could the real estate agent guarantee a quick sale without pricing the property at well below market value?

Later David Parker admitted Mr Cunliffe had got it wrong; a panel would be set up to decide how long you had to sell your parents’ home before the insidious tax would apply.

Let’s say your parents bought their home in the 1960’s for $10,000. It’s now worth $400,000. You would apparently pay a 15% tax on the $390,000 capital gain which amounts to $58,500.

Makes the old death duties look like small change.

Kinda brings tears to your eyes, doesn’t it?


If you think claims that newspapers show unfair bias is itself unfair then consider this. Last Friday Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater took Fairfax Media, the NZ Herald and TV3 to court endeavouring to take out an injunction to stop them from leaking his private emails, hacked by an individual calling himself Rawshark and published under the by-line Whaledump.

Basically the judge agreed; no more new material could be published. Last Saturday’s NZ Herald headline said: Commission rejects bloggers claims, the Wairarapa Times-Age headline read: Court blocks Slater’s bid to gag the media while the Dominion-Post reported: Court injunction plugs Whaledump leaks.

Is the Dom-Post the only honest communicator?


I was walking behind two teenage girls in Queen Street recently and I was listening to them talk. Every third or fourth word was an obscenity, and the thing that struck me as odd was that the conversation didn’t strike me as being particularly odd. The girls weren’t angry or excited. They were just talking in a conversational tone. They apparently didn’t think there was anything wrong with the way they sounded. And in a way they were right. Obscenity, the open use of which used to be the mark of lower social strata, has somehow become acceptable in everyday conversation for everyday people.

And yet I am offended - not out of a sense of morality or of prudishness - but because foul language used casually in public comes close to the idea of a violation of privacy.

I know there are some around who feel assaulted by hearing it. I choose that word very carefully; but certain language is an assault on the senses. Those who disagree are probably saying, “After all, it’s only words.” But words are vehicles; they convey messages and to some people the message of profanity is a message of ugliness and aggressiveness and disrespect for civil behaviour.

Obscenity can now be heard in some popular music, on TV, radio - and even magazines and newspapers have begun to print language that would have been unthinkable when I was growing up. The practice is usually defended under the name of “freedom,” but whose freedom is it?

If the language of ugliness becomes so much part of our society that it is impossible to escape, no matter where you turn, then who is free and who isn’t?

“It is not right that any matters of sexual immorality or indecency or greed should even be mentioned among you. Nor is it fitting for you to use language which is obscene, profane or vulgar.” - Ephesians 5:3


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