NZ First could have the balance of power after Saturday’s election vote so its policies as outlined in its 2011 manifesto could become crucial.

My overall impression is that NZ First’s policies in the savings and investment area appear to be more in line with Labour than with National.  So if it does operate vote by vote then it appears more likely to favour Labour in this area.

In terms of asset sales NZ First is against them in any form where overseas investors can buy a stake (even a minority one).  So asset sales appear to be dead in the water if NZ First has the balance of power.

NZ First is supportive of KiwiSaver and wants to move to compulsory savings so would side with Labour.  One issue re Kiwisaver is that NZ First wants to direct the NZ Super Fund to invest into New Zealand assets.  Throw in the Greens policy of only having the NZ Super Fund running KiwiSaver and it raises the issue of Government eventually having the potential to dictate where KiwiSaver funds are invested; although strangely not into asset sales even though they are a natural investment for the NZ Super and KiwiSaver Funds.

It is not surprising that NZ First don’t support raising the NZ Super age to 67 and want it kept at 65 so this one is in line with National’s policy.  In fact NZ First wants it enshrined at that age and want to increase the payment to 68% of the net average wage

In terms of general taxation policy NZ First want to have a tax free threshold on first $5,200pa, again more in line with Labour policy. NZ First also wishes to reduce GST to 12.5%.  They are on their own on this and not sure if this will go anywhere with Labour or National.  NZ First doesn’t seem to have a view on a capital gains tax in their manifesto and so it is hard to know if Labour would get that one through.

There is no issue with consistency here as NZ First has believed in many of these policies for some time.  However, there are some question marks in my mind about how NZ First can afford these policies.  The policies above look like they will be a net cost to the government money at a time when there is a real need to look to be moving towards balancing the books; which Labour and National both accept.

Anthony Quirk