21 Nov 2016

Politics with Matthew Hooton & Stephen Mills

From Nine To Noon, 11:11 am on 21 November 2016

Matthew Hooton and Stephen Mills discuss the political reaction to last week’s magnitude 7.8 earthquake, and the Prime Minster’s decision to keep tax cuts on the cards.

Matthew Hooton & Stephen Mills

Matthew Hooton & Stephen Mills Photo: RNZ/Dru Faulkner

Mills told Nine to Noon the government responded well to the quake which rocked much of the country last week, and Labour had been bi-partisan and supportive.

However, he says Prime Minister John Key saying he is keeping tax cuts on the table is inappropriate.

“In time it will be appropriate to question whether all the lessons that should have been learned from Christchurch have been learnt and applied.

“And I think also, clearly, there is going to be a big debate on tax cuts …, I think it is utterly reckless for John Key to float those at this time.

“I think tax cuts should be taken off the table for the time being.”

If the Labour-led Helen Clark government had succumbed to pressure for tax cuts the government would have been far less money to deal with the shock of the Christchurch earthquakes, Mills says.

Hooton says he does not see the quakes as being a particularly political issue, and because of the amount of practice that the government and the opposition has had in dealing with natural disasters, they had handled it well.

However, the text-cuts story was something was something that was constructed by the left-wing, he says.

“The tax cuts have been on the agenda for some time.

"The government has said that before, and for him to be asked ‘are they still on the agenda’, I think for him to say ‘no’ would have been to demonstrate a degree of panic that would have been unhelpful.

“But of course the media doesn’t ask him if, for example, increases in health spending are still on the agenda because of the earthquake. And that’s because of an ideological opposition by some journalists to tax cuts,” Hooton says.    

Mills and Hooton also discussed the status of the TPP now the US was almost certain to pull out, Donald Trump, and the removal of global funding from the government’s education overhaul.