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Where is National on the issues that matter?

Hon Dr Michael Cullen
Minister of Finance

8 June 2008 Media Statement

Where is National on the issues that matter?

The reluctance of John Key and Bill English to articulate a real economic policy is matched only by the total contradiction that emerges when they do open their mouths, Finance Minister Michael Cullen said.

National Finance Spokesman Bill English has been reported as saying that National will not be able to tell voters how the Party will manage the economy until right before Election Day, saying economic uncertainty meant the Party did not yet know what it would do if elected.

At the same time, Mr English has signalled that in the next term the government would have less revenue than forecast, despite saying last week that a National government would have more room to give bigger tax cuts. National Leader John Key was also reported at the weekend as calling on Reserve Bank Governor Alan Bollard to cut interest rates, regardless of the economic rationale for doing so.

“National is managing to be both nowhere and all over the place at the same time,” Dr Cullen said. “New Zealand is confronting a global economic downturn right now. New Zealand households are under pressure right now.

“And yet Mr Key and Mr English are openly admitting that they don’t know how to confront the challenges we are facing. They are saying that times are too uncertain for National to adopt a policy approach, even while they go around telling people that National is the government-in-waiting.

“What’s worse is that National’s lack of real solutions and a real policy framework means that Mr Key and Mr English are contradicting each other and themselves each time they appear before a microphone.

“Mr English said last week that the Reserve Bank’s Monetary Policy Statement would make it easier to give huge tax cuts. Then on Sunday, he told NZPA that in fact the Statement means it would be harder to do so.

“Mr Key is regularly dishonest with New Zealanders, telling them the government has the ability to lower petrol and food prices. But then he turns around and tells the Sunday Star-Times that interest rates should be cut dramatically, which would undoubtedly hit the exchange rate and make petrol and food even more expensive.

“National cannot be allowed to ignore the serious issues. New Zealanders are grappling with economic challenge right now – they shouldn’t have to wait for National’s political timetable to get real answers on then economy.”


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