After four long years it’s obvious the National-United Future Government has no plan to turn around New Zealand’s economic decline or fix the unfair tax system.
The common theme of the Government’s legislative programme is it’s all tiny, tinkering, distracting little changes which ignore the big issues.
This year MPs have had interminable debates about petty new taxes on car parks and iPads and cellphones and laptops – with the sole result being that Revenue Minister and United Future leader Peter Dunne has had to back down on all of them, after Labour demonstrated how the minister hadn’t done his sums.
So if Mr Dunne isn’t doing his job of crafting workable tax laws, then surely he must be very busy overseeing his IRD department? Um, no, he’s not.
I reckon Kiwis who’ve tried to phone the taxman this week will be absolutely pulling their hair out.
A few weeks ago Peter Dunne assured me the IRD was adequately staffed to deal with the poorly-communicated 1 April tax changes. Well the Revenue Minister’s credibility today is as shot as the economy.
Try phoning IRD for yourself. It won’t take long, because they’re not even bothering to put people in a call queue – they just play a message saying they’re too busy and then they hang up on you.
(Now, if you really do want to torture yourself like that, please make sure you’re sufficiently wealthy and of a generation inclined to have a landline rental, because the IRD won’t accept 0800 calls from cellphones. With wait times stretching on and on, many people would need more call credit to phone the cellphone-acceptable number than they’d owe in tax).
If, however, you’re not a glutton for frustration you could try writing a letter to the IRD… but you might never get a reply.
Because now the Peter Dunne has admitted his department have no performance indicators for responding to postal transactions. Not one! None!
They might chuck your letter in the bin unopened for all the Revenue Minister cares.
Last year Dunne slashed IRD staff by 7% and this year he’s fluffed around in his cushy ministerial limo creating endless tiny, tinkering new taxes which he didn’t even bother to cost, all while the 1 April changes were looming.
And now the chickens have come home to roost.
But, as usual with this Government, it’s ordinary Kiwis who will pay the price in time and worry (and cellphone credit) for ministers’ incompetence – and they’ll pay an even bigger price if they mix up their tax obligations, no matter how many times they’ve tried to phone the IRD and no matter how many letters they’ve written.