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Valley of the Sun - Hearts Aflame

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Protestors in Auckland call on the government to 'tax the rich'

10 August 2023

Interview by Andre Fa'aoso, adapted by David Liwei Shi 

Unite Union campaigner and social activist, Joe Carolan, says a majority of New Zealanders want to see tax reform to address the ongoing cost of living crisis.

A protest calling to increase taxes on the wealthy is set to take place at Takutai Square, outside the Britomart train station in Tāmaki Makaurau, on Saturday 19 August.

The protest, organised by System Change Aotearoa, is expected to be attended by community activists, some Green MPs, and delegates from unions including First Union, who are advocating to increase taxes on Aotearoa’s wealthiest individuals. 

An Inland Revenue investigation found Aotearoa's 311 richest families paid a median of 9.4 percent, compared with 20.2 percent for the general population. The main source of untaxed income for these families was capital gains.

Unite Union campaigner and socialist activist, Joe Carolan, told 95bFM’s The Wire, that they hope the protest will inject “some fire” into supporters, and attract more attendees to speak out against current tax policies.

“A lot of people are wondering just what is the point of these parties if they won’t help the working class?”

“Even within the Labour Party, there seems to be a lot of anger towards Chris Hipkins unilaterally declaring there would be no wealth tax when he is in charge.”  

A Newshub-Reid research poll in May shows that the majority of Kiwis support implementing a wealth tax. However, Labour has said they have no further plans for tax reform, even after the upcoming October election. 

The Labour Party received criticism from National and ACT over their now-scrapped tax reform plan. Prime Minister Chris Hipkins confirmed that the government was looking at implementing a wealth tax or a capital gains tax in Budget 2023, but decided not to do this. 

Carolan believes the protest marks the beginning of coalitions coming together to make radical changes. 

“I think hundreds of people will take to the streets to address these issues.”

“This is not the time to play defensive games — or be apologetic about taxing the rich. They are the source of all these [cost of living and housing] crises.” 

Listen to the full interview 

Public Interest Journalism funded by NZ On Air