Aust budget prompts NZ ‘brain drain’ fears

Finance Minister Grant Robertson’s office said Mr Bridges was deliberately ignoring the government’s Families Package policy. (Photo: Cameron Burnell/Stuff)

14 May 2018

Boris Jancic – News

Tax cuts in Australia’s budget have prompted New Zealand’s opposition to warn Kiwis will be flying across the Tasman if the income gap widens.

In what may be a case of Trans-Tasman tax-cut envy, New Zealand’s opposition says the Australian government’s new budget will send Kiwis flying across the ditch.

But Jacinda Ardern’s government said its own families package will do “much more” to help working and middle-class families than the changes laid out under Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership.

With New Zealand’s Labour-led government set to reveal its first budget on Thursday, National Party leader Simon Bridges on Monday lamented what he called a “completely opposite approach” to Australia and warned the dreaded “brain drain” could be restarted.

“Last week we saw the Australian federal government and the Australian leader of the opposition trying to outbid each other in putting tax money back in the pockets of middle-income Australians,” he said.

“Meanwhile over here our Finance Minister has cancelled the tax threshold changes for middle income New Zealanders (put forward by National before last year’s election).

He noted New Zealand was also already running budget surpluses while Australia was a few years off.

But Finance Minister Grant Robertson’s office said Mr Bridges was deliberately ignoring the government’s families package policy – which expands and introduces a numbers of credits and benefits.

While Australian workers earning between $48,000 and $90,000 would be about $10 better off each week, those making below $37,000 would get less than $4, a spokesman said.

“By contrast, our families package, which we paid for by cancelling the previous government’s poorly-targeted tax cuts, will benefit 384,000 families by an average of $75 a week when it is fully rolled out.”

Kiwis would also still pay an overall lower portion of income as tax after both changes, he said.

In late 2015, more people moved from Australia to New Zealand than the other way around for the first time since 1991, with the numbers about even last year

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