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Bill's numbers highly selective - Cullen

"Bill English is right that the increase in petrol prices and mortgage rates will hit households. But his attempt to blame the Government is mischievous and misleading," Finance Minister Michael Cullen said today.

"The Government has no control over either petrol prices or interest rates, as Mr English well knows.

"There are costs and items we can control to the benefit of ordinary New Zealanders, and we have made significant strides already to ease the pressure on the most vulnerable households.

"We have:
 Raised the threshold for the community services card, lowering health costs for an extra 48,000 people. We did this on April 1.
 Trebled the subsidy for student loans and frozen the student loan interest rate. There are approximately 200,000 tertiary students studying in New Zealand right now. I will be announcing further steps to assist them in the budget.
 Increased New Zealand Superannuation payments by around $11 a week on average for New Zealand's 450,000 superannuitants.

"And on 1 December, this year we will restore income related rentals for low income State house tenants. This will directly assist more than 40,000 households to the tune of around $40 a week.

"Most of these decisions involved reversing the mean policies of the last National Government," Dr Cullen said.



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