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Shift in Labour's economic policy raises questions

Treasurer Bill English said today the hostile reception given to Dr Cullen on the West Coast yesterday had overshadowed a significant shift in Labour's economic policy.

"Up until now Dr Cullen has portrayed Labour's economic policy as moderate and fiscally responsible. But at the first real political test he has abandoned prudent management of the Crown's resources.

"Yesterday on the Coast Dr Cullen promised that, under Labour, a West Coast community trust would gain $70 million of exotic forests from Timberlands, levies on coal exported from the region and payments in lieu of rates from conservation estate.

"Dr Cullen is promising to give away millions of dollars in taxpayer-owned assets and promising significant extra expenditure. These promises raise questions about his capacity to resist pressure from other regions who will be keen to make their case for regional development as vigorously as Coasters have.

"They also raise questions about whether Dr Cullen can be trusted with Government assets. For the last 15 years Governments have run transparent processes of sale in order to achieve the best price on the day.

"Labour now seems to have taken a position where they will give Crown assets away to solve political problems," said Mr English.


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