Newsroom Pro's 8 things at 8 am: The PREFU lolly jar; A Capital Gains Tax debate is on; Interviewing Winston

In today's email, we look ahead to this afternoon's PREFU and what sort of lolly scramble it might unleash, we note the growing debate over Labour's prevarications on a Capital Gains Tax and include an interview with Winston Peters.

1. Revealing the size of the lolly jar

Today is a crucial day in the election campaign for both sides of politics because today they'll find out how much more money they can throw at voters in the next 31 days.

The Treasury is scheduled to publish its Pre Election Fiscal Update (PREFU) at midday today after a lockup for journalists, which Newsroom will attend.

It is expected to deliver an extra $1.5 billion a year for both sides of politics to spend because of the stronger than expected economic growth since Budget 2017 in May.

Labour has hinted at using the windfall to fund an early introduction of its three years of free tertiary education, which it had previously planned to roll out in a phased way by 2025. Jacinda Ardern has ruled out some form of universal student allowance.

Ardern has also suggested the PREFU will determine whether Labour might propose a new top income tax rate to raise extra revenues. A new rate of 36 percent from $150,000 per annum has been speculated.

For its part, National has talked about extra infrastructure spending, or a turbo-charged version of its family incomes package with the potential for a bigger tax cut.

We will have coverage of the details of the PREFU up shortly after the embargo is lifted at midday.

2. Capital Gains Tax in the spotlight

Finally, the debate over a Capital Gains Tax is front and centre in the election campaign, despite bubbling around under the surface for over a week.

Labour finance spokesman Grant Robertson softened the ground on The Nation on August 12 for Jacinda Ardern's 'captains call' to not rule out a Capital Gains Tax (excluding the family home) in the first term.

Ardern made clear at her caucus stand-up on August 15 that she could accept the recommendations of a Tax Working Group to introduce such a tax in the first term. This was her first big change from Andrew Little's policy of ruling it out in the first term.

Yesterday morning Ardern was grilled hard on the issue by Guyon Espiner on Morning Report, and that was followed up in the television news bulletins after Bill English jumped on it hard during his appearances on the campaign trail.

"This is a serious business, there's an election in five weeks' time, people's livelihoods are at stake, their household incomes are at stake, their jobs are at stake," English said at an event in KatiKati.

"They deserve to know how much the taxes are going to be, the water tax, what the details of the capital gains tax are going to be because it sounds like there's almost certainly going to be one," he said.

This will clearly be one of the dominant themes of the campaign.

Meanwhile, the Greens reiterated its policy of support for a comprehensive capital gains tax that excluded the family home.

3. But Peters' view is crucial

However, one missing element in the debate over a Capital Gains Tax (CGT) so far is what Winston Peters thinks, given he will be the crucial element in whoever makes up the Government and votes through major legislative changes.

He is no fan of a CGT and told Newsroom's Sam Sachdeva just that in an interview.

“If I’m going to be advocating a tax I’ll be telling you about it - if I haven’t said a word about it you can bet your bottom dollar it’s not going to be part of our manifesto commitments,” he said.

That leaves some wiggle room for Peters to accept one, but it's hard to imagine his voter base of mostly elderly property owners would accept one.

Here's Sam's full interview article on Newsroom Pro, where it was published first yesterday.

4. The Jacinda effect's new TV ad:

Jacinda Ardern was in Auckland yesterday to reveal Labour's new television advert for the election - hastily put together after the first ad, based around Little, was released in July.

The ad, focused on and narrated by Ardern, was created in just over a fortnight and filmed over a week, incorporating scenes from the party's campaign launch in Auckland last weekend.

The full text of her voice-over is as follows: "Now's the time to build a better, fairer future for New Zealand. They will try to convince you not to rock the boat. But we can do better: better healthcare, better schools, better transport, cleaner rivers, and homes for all. I am ready. We're all ready. Let's do this."

5. Quotes of the day:

James Shaw announcing the departures of Greens' Chief of Staff Deborah Morris-Travers and Political Director Joss Debreceny:

"Joss and Deborah are both superb operators. As these changes are operational issues, it would be inappropriate to make any further comment."

Green Party digital director Tory Whanau has been made acting chief of staff for the remainder of the campaign.

Winston Peters targets the sale of some Housing NZ land in Mt Albert to a Chinese property developer, who subsequently built homes in the Special Housing Area to house China Southern Airlines crew:

"Why did a Mt Albert Housing NZ development end up in the hands of a Chinese company?"

Housing NZ has confirmed it sold land to Tingting Feng for $8.76 million in 2013. National MP Melissa Lee accused Peters of "race-baiting."

Donald Trump going against type and committing America to an unspecified increase in US troop numbers in Afghanistan for an unspecified length of time:

"My original instinct was to pull out — and, historically, I like following my instincts. But all my life I've heard that decisions are much different when you sit behind the desk in the Oval Office. In other words, when you're President of the United States."

6. Numbers of the day

10 - The number of new or refreshed trade deals that National announced it would pursue if re-elected.

46.4 percent - The support for Labour in a Reid Research poll for Maori Television in the Maori Electorates. Support for the Maori Party was at 17.5 percent.

7. Coming up...

Jacinda Ardern travels to Palmerston North today to announce a regional housing policy.

Bill English is in Wellington visiting local businesses.

8. One or two fun things

The eclipse transfixed much of America yesterday. Donald Trump looked up without his special protective glasses on...

Sometimes I wish New Zealand had a true daily tabloid for just this sort of front page, via the New York Daily News (published on twitter):

Alt-Rupert couldn't help but put up this followup to the Trumps staring hopefully into the sky:

"The sooner the Mothership arrives to take them home, the better off we will all be."

And this little soccer video is worth a click for some dumb, smiley fun.

Have a great PREFU day!

cheers

Bernard