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Real policies, maybe policies, non-policies


8 August 1999

Treasurer Bill English said today National's calculations of the cost of Labour's promises had flushed out Dr Cullen's clever distinctions on spending.

"It is now clear that Labour's promises fall into three categories - real policies, maybe policies, and non-policies.

"The real policies are ones which Labour intends to pay for, such as the credit-card promises and the recently announced education policy. Not all of these are costed in detail, but Dr Cullen says the credit card list will cost more than $700 million a year and the others are in addition to that.

"Some are maybe policies. These are policies which Labour has announced, but not costed, such as the promise of tax incentives to businesses and nationalising ACC. Dr Cullen's position is that because Labour has not costed them, he doesn't have to show how he will pay for them.

"The third category is non-policies. These are policies which Labour wants to get credit for, but doesn't even pretend to be able to pay for. Dr Cullen covers these off by making vague statements about "phasing in".

"We can expect to see more of the second and third category through the election campaign.

"Superannuation is an example of a non-policy. Labour says its state-controlled super fund will be phased in and paid for out of surpluses. But there won't be any surpluses big enough to set up a fund of the size Dr Cullen is talking about for years.

"The only way to achieve anything like it would be if Labour had abandoned debt repayment as part of its economic policy, because that is what the small surpluses projected are currently earmarked for and Labour has ruled out any asset sales. Dr Cullen's super policy is really all talk and no substance because he has no commitment to funding the $1.5 billion needed," said Mr English.

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