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Labour promises uncosted and unaccounted for

Bill English MP
National Party Finance Spokesman

13 October 2008

Labour promises uncosted and unaccounted for

National Party Finance spokesman Bill English says Labour is adding more big numbers next to the half a dozen spending promises that were not part of last week’s opening of the books.

“If the books looked bad last week, New Zealanders were only being told part of the story. Helen Clark has made promises to the New Zealand public which don't appear in the government’s finances. Given the state of the books, with operating deficits forecast for a decade to come, Labour needs to say whether these promises will actually go ahead, and what choices they will make about what to cut. They need to be honest.

“Today, Helen Clark has the cheek to suggest that she won’t tell the public how she plans to pay for any of them until after the election in a mini-Budget. She is asking New Zealanders to write her the biggest blank cheque in our political history.

“The election is now less than four weeks away. The public have a right to know. Is it the tax cut programme? Is the tax-cut canceller going to strike again? Or is it bigger deficits and more borrowing for longer?”

Mr English says just this morning Michael Cullen promised that Labour would also move to adopt National’s policy to keep superannuation at 66% of the average after-tax wage. That is not costed and not in the PREFU, but it is costed in National's economic plan.

“Just at the weekend, Helen Clark was promising even more unaccounted spending, on top of the billions that were hidden away in the Pre Election Fiscal Update.”

Mr English says the commitments Helen Clark needs to come clean on include:
- Compensation for increased household power bills as a result of the ETS - $180 million over 2009/10 and 2010/11.
- A fund for insulating houses - $1 billion over the next 15 years.
- Redevelopment of rail - funding from 2009/10 to 2012/13 is expected to total $920 million for rail transport upgrade and growth projects, and $383 million for ‘operating support’.

- Schools Plus - costs anywhere between $134 million and $340 million from 2011 onwards.
- Building the Waterview Connection which the Government has said it’s committed to. The cost is expected to be anywhere from $1.5 billion to more than $2 billion.

- The Canterbury Transport Project, which the Government has said it will put $244 million into over a 10-year period, but has appropriated only $33.5 million.

- And Helen Clark has also made some announcements since the PREFU - the ‘pay jolt’ for school support staff, which could cost around $8 million a year, and the purchase of St James station for $40 million.

Mr English says these were on Helen Clark’s shopping list even before the new spending pledges yesterday.

“Having known about the poor state of the books for months now, Labour is today saying they won’t be telling New Zealanders how any of their promises will be paid for until after the election. That is not good enough.

“National has been up front and clear about the fiscal choices it has made. Helen Clark must be up front about her plans.”


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