National announces $16.5b tax plan, cuts KiwiSaver and R&D; potential coalition partners critical of cuts; government pays $40m for high-country station, Conchords clean up; and more
- A defining moment on the campaign trail dominates the front pages this morning. National announced it's tax cut plans yesterday, which the Press has described as "a $16.5 billion tax package aimed at kick-starting growth". John Key's "prudent" cuts put $47 into the hands of people on $46,000 a year by 2011, about $15 more than Labour's has promised. It also introduces a new "independent earner rebate" for 600,000 workers not receiving anything from Working for Families. But to pay for the package National has had to slash $3 billion from KiwiSaver and axe R&D tax credits, the Dominion Post reports. In the Herald, Simon Collins sums up the impact of the cuts: "Middle and high income earners not in KiwiSaver would be the big winners... But low income families with children, and people in the KiwiSaver scheme at all income levels would be better off under Labour".
- And the reaction? The Herald says "National has risked alienating [the 800,000] people who have embraced Kiwisaver" and that Labour is "delighted" with the announcement as it offers voters a clear choice. The Otago Daily Times says the global financial collapse has left Key "scrambling for a point of difference". Business leaders say the R&D cuts will put us at the bottom of the OECD in terms of public support for innovation. Finance minister Michael Cullen says the plan simply encourages people to spend, not save, while National's potential coalition partners United Future and Act were both critical.
- In other political news, Jim Anderton's Progressives says subsidised dental care would be central to any coalition agreement with Labour after the election.
- A Kiwi soldier was injured in a bomb attack in Afghanistan.
- The government's purchase of the 78,196ha St James Station near Nelson Lakes National Park completes a "coast-to-coast protected corridor". The Stevenson family has sold the high-country land located on three mountain ranges to the Crown for $40m.
- Fonterra is in talks with Chinese authorities as to how it may support children who have been made ill by tainted baby formula. The Herald understands CEO Andrew Ferrier flew out to China last night.
- AgResearch is warning that climate change could draw poisonous redback spiders across the Tasman. They would head for "anywhere grapes are grown", researchers say.
- Finally, it was the Night of the Conchords at the New Zealand Music Awards last night, the DomPost reports. The Flight of the Conchords won four awards, including best album and best group, while Christchurch band Opshop won best single.