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The two faces of Prebble

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"Between elections Richard Prebble is flinty in his pursuit of Act's hard-right economic agenda. You'd almost think that's what he stood for. But put a little election pressure under him and he becomes the Lady Bountiful," Labour finance spokesperson Michael Cullen said today.

Dr Cullen was commenting on the Act leader's extraordinary performance at a dinner-debate hosted yesterday by the Wellington Regional Chamber of Commerce.

"We met a new Richard Prebble. The calls to reduce the size of the State and to cut government spending were forgotten. What we had was a Richard Prebble recklessly promising anything to hold on to his Wellington Central electorate.

"He would be one of the most expensive after dinner speakers in the world if every promise he made last night was delivered on.

"Fortunately, at least in this instance, Mr Prebble can be relied upon not to deliver on his promises even in the unlikely event that he holds his seat," Dr Cullen said.

"In one short appearance, he promised to build the new Wellington public hospital on the existing Newtown site whatever the cost, to go ahead with the Transmission Gully road although the decision is not his to make, and to make private superannuation savings tax exempt.

"The tax exemption for super would cost about $1 billion a year. Act's proposed 20 percent flat tax would cost the same amount, assuming the low income earner rebate was kept.

"Meanwhile on the spending side, Act is promising to spend whatever it takes to get the country's 111,612 domestic purposes beneficiaries off welfare.

"All this from the party which makes fiscal prudence the No. One virtue. Hypocrisy has reached new heights," Dr Cullen said.

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