While Prime Minister Chris Hipkins might claim he wants to focus on economic issues that are important to people, there's little indication that anything significant will change in the coming months. Instead, this week he announced some further middle class welfare in the form of an extension of the fuel tax cut. 

CHRIS HIPKINS has been quick to stake out his territory. He will, he claims, be a Prime Minister who will focus on the 'bread and butter' issues. His declaration that he will address working class concerns and, in particular, the steeply rising cost of living has probably delivered him some kudos from an electorate that was becoming increasingly fed up with the middle class dalliances of his predecessor. But Hipkins has also raised expectations that he's actually going to do something to help folk and if he doesn't deliver Labour will be in more trouble than it already is. 

If Hipkins was really serious in his intention to reconfigure Labour and its economic policies, then he would be making it clear that tackling the cost of living crisis means offering an alternative to our existing and failed economic model. But Hipkins is a dedicated centrist and he is entirely relaxed about an environment where corporate profits continue to soar while most of us struggle just to keep our heads above water,

Chris Hipkins simply doesn't recognise that capitalism is an inherently unstable system that resolves its crises on the backs of working people.

But this week the Prime Minister claimed that extending the fuel tax cut of was all part of his focus on 'bread and butter issues'. The extension will cost a further $718 million, which means that the Labour Government will have spent $2.1 billion subsiding fuel costs. Think about what that $2 billion could have been spent on. 

The extension of the fuel tax cut though is little more than further middle class welfare, designed to shore up support among wavering middle class Labour supporters who might be thinking of giving the National Party a go. Economist Brad Olsen has crunched the numbers and says the country’s highest-earning 10% of households will save about $42 a month from the petrol tax cut, while the lowest-earners will only save about $14 a month.

Olsen told the media: 'Further extending the reduction in [petrol tax] is extremely dumb economic policy, as it provides three times as much support to the top income decile as the bottom income decile. However, it’s a politically popular move, given inflation remains high, at 7.2% per annum, and 91-octane petrol prices would be about $2.75 a litre with the full excise duty reinstated.'

While Hipkins might have grabbed some positive headlines for extending the fuel tax cut, less media attention has been paid to other statements he has made this week. 

Perhaps the most significant is that he ruled out taking the GST off food. This is in despite of a 1News Kantar Public Poll this week revealing that 77% of people believe the government should make reducing food price inflation their number one priority. 

Hipkins also displayed little enthusiasm for raising benefit levels in order to provide struggling beneficiaries with a standard of living that is a little more than subsistence. It looks like there won't be any more bread and butter for beneficiaries. They will have to continue to survive on the thin gruel this Labour Government has dished out throughout its term in office.

Chris Hipkins, despite all his huffin' and puffin' about being a man of the people, represents the continuation of the neoliberal orthodoxy. And, in an election year, we are once again faced with the familiar prospect of not one of our parliamentary parties offering anything that even approaches a left economic agenda - an agenda that provides a vision for a different kind of economy, one based on human need rather than corporate profit.


  1. There is a determination to continue throwing the poorest under the bus and continue to funnel resources to the already comfortable, so-called swing voters.

    There needs to be some kind of accountability for the terrible harm being inflicted on the poorest. Yet this bloc has been rendered voiceless. And Labour continues with its new anti-dissent police force. The dis/misinformation Stasi.

    I don't know what to do. Labour finally dealt with its 'let them eat cake and watch me be a star as they are destroyed' performance by an increasingly and obviously unstable Ardern.

    So-called left commentators finally stopped grand-standing about Ardern having been ''destroyed'' by an ungrateful electorate - but not because they were able to consider that people really were being destroyed by this government. And all while Ardern went on yet another red-carpet international junket or joined a fashion parade and the cameras clicked. And we fumed.

    She didn't bother with her poverty portfolio and Hipkins was savvy in separating himself from her appalling display, and (I mean absolutely sickening), with his ''virtue signalling'' comment.

    But that's all it was, just being a savvy player in this hideous game. He won't change course. The pie for the wealthy and any crumbs left behind for the poorest.

    What do we do?


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