Housing crisis: National leader Judith Collins says Grant Robertson lied to Kiwis over bright-line test

National leader Judith Collins is accusing the Government of flat out lying to New Zealanders about the extension of the bright-line test.

“They have lied to New Zealanders – New Zealanders just can’t trust what they are told by the Government,” she told media this morning.

Her comments come after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced a suite of measures aimed at cooling the overheated housing market.

One of the measures unveiled this morning was an extension to the capital gains tax-esque bright-line test, taking it from five to 10 years. This means any gains on a residential property that is not a family home will be taxed if the property is sold within a decade of the purchase.

This is despite Finance Minister Grant Robertson ruling out any changes at all to the test, in September last year.

When asked by Newstalk ZB’s Heather du Plessis-Allan if Labour would make any changes to the bright-line test if it was re-elected, Robertson said no.

When pressed on the rate or the years of the tax he again said no.

Collins this morning wasn’t holding back in her assessment of the Government’s change of heart on the issue.

“[It’s] a broken promise from Grant Robertson… it only took six months to break.”

When announcing the housing package this morning, Robertson conceded that he was “too definitive” when he ruled out the bright-line test exemption.

“In the election campaign, we told New Zealanders that we would continue to work to address the housing crisis – Labour’s policy was clear that we wouldn’t introduce any new taxes.”

Collins was frank when asked about Robertson in that interview: “He’s lying”.

It’s reasonably rare for a politician to flat-out accuse their opponents of flat-out lying.
Collins was as critical of Ardern who, in 2019, said she would not impose a capital gains tax on New Zealanders while she was Prime Minister.

The National leader said the bright-line test extension essentially amounts to a capital gains tax.

“They have taken the bright-line test and turned it into a full-scale capital gains tax.”

A capital gains tax has no timing limits – the new look bright-line only kicks in if a property (excluding the family home and a new build) is sold within 10 years.

Pressed by reporters if Ardern had broken her no capital gains tax promise, she said: “We certainly don’t see it that way”.

“The advice we have here is that it may not be capturing those who are buying as speculators who are trying to benefit off the heat in the market.”

She said that the Government had been “silent” on the issue of a bright-line test.

“But what is clear to us, is since May, we’ve seen house prices go up by over 25 per cent.

“Now, it is incumbent on us as a Government that when we see a problem as significant is this, we have to do something about it, and we have.”

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