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National’s tax chaos shows it can’t be trusted

17 September 2008

National’s tax chaos shows it can’t be trusted

For the third consecutive day John Key and Bill English are all over the place on tax cuts with simultaneous promises to borrow big for tax cuts and to embrace fiscal conservatism, Finance Minister Michael Cullen said.

On Monday Mr English reiterated Mr Key’s pledge to deliver $50 a week in across the board, debt-funded tax cuts over and above what Labour is delivering. Then yesterday he reversed that position saying that international financial turmoil meant ‘reckless spending promises’ could not be afforded.

Then this morning John Key has said he thinks an extra $50 a week would not be reckless, and that his tax cuts have been locked down ahead of the opening of the government’s books at the pre-election update.

Also this morning Mr English has contradicted his leader by saying he is still working on the detail of the tax plan and ‘considering the conditions’ while ‘getting together’ his fiscal package.

“The global economy is facing a very serious challenge from the turmoil in the US financial sector,” Dr Cullen said. “In this environment people who want to be seen as credible managers of the economy have to be very careful with what they say.

“For our part, the Labour-led government has been clear that we will continue to operate a stable, low-debt fiscal policy. We believe our 1 October tax cuts will stimulate the economy just when that stimulus is needed.

“But the National Party can’t figure out exactly where they stand or what they would be doing if they were in government.

“Mr English – who we know does not rate his leader’s grasp of policy detail – is clearly trying to shrink the size of the tax cut package at the last minute.

“Meanwhile, Mr Key – who doesn’t seem to have learned anything by watching his old friends at Merrill Lynch fall over this week – is still happily ramping up expectations. He is practically chomping at the bit to borrow big for tax cuts regardless of the risk of doing so.

“All we really know is that these men cannot be trusted to manage the economy through challenging times.”


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