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Slips continue from National Party

10 March 2008 Media Statement

Slips continue from National Party

Less than a week after John Key forgot that he had set a deadline for Treaty of Waitangi settlements, Bill English has now been caught forgetting that his leader has set a Crown debt target of 25 per cent of GDP.

The Press on Saturday reported Mr English to say that lifting gross Crown debt to
25 per cent of GDP “has never been one of our policies.”

This is in spite of the fact that John Key has long advocated raising debt to
25 per cent of GDP (compared with Labour’s medium-term target of around 20 per cent of GDP).

In June 2006, when asked about National’s debt policy by Scoop’s Kevin List, for example, Mr Key said clearly that:

What we indicated is we're sort of comfortable with a notional
debt-to-GDP of around about 25 percent, so that's gross debt.

Finance Minister Michael Cullen said today that the issue of what level of debt National proposes to burden New Zealanders with is a very serious one and that it is “certainly too serious for National to be slippery with voters on.”

“Lifting Crown debt to 25 per cent of GDP would cost around an extra $700 million a year in finance costs alone,” Dr Cullen said.

“This is an issue that clearly divides National and the Labour-led government. Labour’s record is that $700 million-a-year is well spent on investing in health and education services and in infrastructure – National thinks spending $700 million-a-year extra in debt-servicing to overseas lenders is a better alternative”.

“National, by actively seeking to raise debt even before population ageing hits home, shows that it does not take our long-term challenges seriously. Labour’s record, in contrast, is that we are trying to control debt while we enjoy favourable demographics”.

“If raising debt has never been National policy, Mr English should ask Mr
Key to stop promoting it as such,” Dr Cullen said.

ENDS

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