Mike Hosking: 84,000 Questions for Sir Michael Cullen and the Capital Gains Tax Plan
COMMENT: For about four months of work, Sir Michael Cullen was paid $ 84,000. Set that aside and it’s over $ 250,000 a year. $ 84,000 is more than the average salary of people in major centers who work full time.
And $ 84,000 is Cullen’s reward for chairing the task force on taxation, before he extended his contract to a large a day to sell his committee decision on a capital gains tax. Not bad huh ?
And made even better by the fact that he never once – in all his years in Parliament – ever offered an argument in favor of a CGT. In fact, he argued just the opposite.
So, in retirement or semi-retirement, you can earn more than the average salary, by working part-time and having a series of meetings designed to come up with a plan on something you don’t like, don’t. ever wanted, you are arguing against – and thinking will not work. Brilliant.
Now, to be fair, I never like to compare numbers with numbers. The media do it all the time, and not in some kind of apple and apple. They take whatever the wage is and compare it to minimum wage, or unemployment benefits, or some other completely unnecessary exercise designed to shame the person who receives the highest salary.
Let’s be frank, if you’re hitting minimum wage, chances are you don’t have the skills to do what Cullen did. If you had these skills, you would probably earn more than you are.
And personally, I have no problem paying good people, a lot of money. And in the grand scheme of things, $ 84,000 is not a king’s ransom.
However, I would have thought that pride, morals, political savvy or common sense would have at least partly played a role.
Cullen said the other day how surprised he was that this committee and his work had become all around him, when there were a bunch of other team members. It shows a naivety that surprises me, given his experience. What was he expecting? He has spent a career litigating against a CGT.
Then the committee came back to the government saying that they could not reach consensus on a CGT, mainly because it is too heavy (hence we have never had one before). And then, under the instructions of Stuart Nash and Grant Robertson, he magically came up with a plan.
And then, when that plan was overwhelmed by the logical and reasoned arguments of those of us who saw its folly for what it was, the government panicked, given that it had left a void of silence for that he was walking away to think about her answer, pretending all along they hadn’t made up their minds.
Which meant Cullen had been rehired, at $ 1,000 a day, to make the whole thing worth it. At which point Cullen says, “How come it’s about me?”
It is a road to the transformation of Damascus that we are seeing. Where is it? Is he a mercenary who will say whatever you want for a price? If so, is that why it fell so badly?
We can see through the smoke and the mirrors. Authenticity always adds weight to an argument – and you can’t buy authenticity for $ 84,000.