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Key supplies own policy inconsistencies

Hon Dr Michael Cullen
Minister of Finance

26 August 2005 Media Statement

Key supplies own policy inconsistencies

Finance Minister Michael Cullen said today that John Key didn’t need help from his colleagues to provide inconsistent policy messages from National, he was able to do it all by himself.

“It took three people – Brian Connell, Nick Smith and Don Brash – to send out conflicting statements over where National stands on logging native timber.

“It took Paul Hutchison and Brash to confuse the public over how National will target primary health care funding.

“It took three people – Maurice Williamson, Brash and Key - to create complete confusion over National’s projected spend on roading.

“It took Brash, Lockwood Smith and Gerry Brownlee to provide National’s many positions on whether New Zealand should retain its nuclear free status.

“But in the economic and fiscal policy areas, Mr Key needs no assistance. He can supply his own inconsistencies as he demonstrated again last night in the economic debate on Sky TV’s Williams Up Front programme,” Dr Cullen said.

“Asked if he was going to borrow to fund the tax cuts, Key said: No, we’ve got enough to run big enough surpluses to fund all the operation expense, every school, every nurse, every doctor, every teacher, enough to fund our entire contribution to the New Zealand superannuation fund and some left over for our capital payment….My prediction is actually that Labour will borrow more than National.

Then the contradiction. He concedes not only that National’s total spend, including the revenue foregone through their tax cuts, would be larger than Labour’s but also that they would have to borrow more: Yeah. Well Michael Cullen’s right, there’s a difference between $7 billion. What he’s not correct about of course is he fails to take off that we’ll be spending less and cutting some waste out of the system. Both National and Labour have a small borrowing requirement going forward so if we were only borrowing $3 billion more then arguably we can’t be having $7 billion difference.

“These statements are not only contradictory but deeply confusing. They indicate a man with a weak grasp of both how public finances work and of the fiscal impact of his own party’s policies,” Dr Cullen said.

ENDS

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