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Another flick of the veil

· Labour
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"Nothing specific of course. Just another mincing little step in Bill English's absurd dance of the seven hundred veils," Labour finance spokesperson Michael Cullen said today.

Dr Cullen was commenting on Bill English's latest tax hint.

"The only thing which is clear is that when all the teasing is over, what will stand exposed will be a very small tax cut.

"And even as Mr English holds to his belief that the economy is "recovering steadily," recent evidence
suggests the recovery may be faltering: Consumer and business confidence are both in decline and the latest retail sales figures show sales fell in both April and May.

"Further, the $3.6 billion Bill English says is available for new spending over the next three years is a fiction. Already the teachers' pay settlement has taken a $400 million bite out of it. But the $3.6 billion figure was always massaged anyway.

"It was based on quite unrealistic future spending projections, including the assumption that health spending will rise at a rate lower than inflation in the years 2000 to 2002.

"Bill English has himself admitted last week to the finance and expenditure select committee that actual spending would be substantially higher than the budget forecasts," Dr Cullen said.

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