TAXING THE GIVERS
Kiwis are a big-hearted bunch.
As National’s Spokesperson for Conservation, I have had first-hand opportunity during the past six months to see how generous individuals, families and businesses across the country are looking after our unique biodiversity.
Historically, the Department of Conservation has always taken care of these needs, but the increased scale of expectations makes it impossible for DOC to fund these alone.
For months now there has been a lot of talk about wealth and capital gains taxes in the political arena. And while the Prime Minister quashed the idea, if they are still in government after the election, I question the merit of either tax.
Surely those who generate such hard-earned wealth are best placed to decide how that wealth is used.
Because I can already see the drop in funding for many causes — conservation, environment or otherwise — if this wealth was forced through bureaucracy.
A sizeable proportion of it going on administration costs and little ending up, where those who earnt it, wanted it to go.
In my electorate there are many notable examples of very benevolent families and individuals enabling their communities to build and acquire assets they would otherwise struggle to achieve.
In one of these communities, locals have donated substantially to build a medical centre, dementia unit and buy a new ambulance for their town.
In another, a family has set up a foundation to give grants which will forever benefit the health, wellbeing, and education of the people in their region.
Then there is the great national example of the New Zealand Nature Fund. This initiative raises significant funds from private investors and donors for the effective protection and restoration of our biodiversity at scale, in the wild, for the generations to come.
Established in 2020, the New Zealand Nature Fund is the registered brand name for NZ National Parks & Conservation Foundation and a registered charity.
You can’t convince me the endeavours for these communities and the betterment of our nation’s biodiversity would have been achieved by filtering their money through government departments.
Meanwhile the Greens continue to propose wealth taxes on one hand and biodiversity credits based on philanthropy on the other.
You will see the contradiction as the two proposals are totally at odds with each other — another perfect example of them trying to have their cake and eat it too.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a strong believer in biodiversity credits, but these can be set up, so they are paid for by offsets.
There are examples of this in Australia — a country uses so many more of its natural resources than we do. In areas like New South Wales biodiversity credits are purchased to offset infrastructure and industry.
Wouldn’t it be great to have the same credits for the vast amount of work already done here by our food producers and farmers.