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Re-launch No. 7 doomed to failure

Labour
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"The much-hyped "Five Steps" programme the Government will announce on Wednesday is National's seventh desperate attempt to re-launch itself since Jenny Shipley took over as Prime Minister and will flop just like all the others did," Labour finance spokesperson Michael Cullen said today.

"It will flop because the public knows it is a fake. Only a few months ago Max Bradford was describing Labour's industry development strategy as "a great leap back to the past." Now he and his colleagues are arguing that government must take a leadership role in the economy.

"This is no road-to-Damascus experience. It is a cynical ploy to win votes and the voters will see through it," Dr Cullen said.

"National has been rattled by the appeal Labour's economic message has both in the business community and among the electorate at large and have been reduced to trying to play catch-up in industry policy, competition policy, telecommunications policy and research and development policy.

"They have, in effect, conceded that we have got the basic issues right in these areas and are desperately trying to look as much like us as they can. But everyone knows they are only making it up.

"They are still trapped within a 1980s mind-set of the free market, conscious of the fact that their coalition partner, Act, is more extreme again than even most National MPs can stomach," Dr Cullen said.

"We know the Government plans a WINZ-style extravaganza for the Wednesday announcement and consider that an inappropriate use of taxpayers' money . - especially three months out from the elections for what is so clearly a National Party rescue bid.

"But the real question is where the cash is coming from to fund the package. Labour is planning to double the State's investment in industry development in our first term in office, taking it from $100 million a year to at least $200 million by the third year.

"But Labour is also proposing to raise an additional $400 million a year in revenue through a new 39c tax step on incomes above $60,000. National is promising to cut taxes by $400 million on April 1 and to match this dollar for dollar in increased social spending, bringing the total cost of the pledge to $800 million.

"The problem is that the Budget gives them only $900 million for new spending in the 2000-2001 financial year, and the teachers' pay settlement has already taken the better part of $100 million out of that.

"In other words, the kitty is almost empty. There is not enough left to fund anything of substance. And there is nowhere near enough to put together the sort of package National would need to re-ignite its electoral chances.

"Jenny Shipley first attempted to re-launch National by ending the unpopular coalition with New Zealand First. Next up was the disastrous "Policies for Progress" initiative. After that we had the promotion of the "brat pack" in the December cabinet reshuffle.Then there was the budget which was supposed to put National back on the offensive but sank without trace.

"After that we had Mrs Shipley's absurd "winners" speech to the National Party conference and then the silly tax bribe.

"The Wednesday hoopla will just be another failure in this long line of embarrassing failures," Dr Cullen said.

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