PM warns voters not to expect big Labour Party policies this election

Author
Jason Walls, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 3 Aug 2020, 11:26AM
Jacinda Ardern. (Photo / NZ Herald)
Jacinda Ardern. (Photo / NZ Herald)

PM warns voters not to expect big Labour Party policies this election

Author
Jason Walls, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 3 Aug 2020, 11:26AM

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is warning voters not to expect any large-scale Labour policies this election, as her party's priority is the Covid-19 recovery.

Ardern, who is the Labour leader, was also critical of her opponents' plans for government debt, saying what National has proposed means tough austerity measures for the next generation.

Speaking to RNZ this morning, Ardern said voters should not expect a "large-scale range of policies" from Labour this election.

"What we will be doing over this election period is adding some additional aspects [of policy]," she said.

"But I would flag to voters not to expect to see the large scale manifestos that are a significant departure from what we are doing."

Instead, she said her "big focus" was on the Covid-19 recovery.

"Ultimately, what needs to be done, we are already rolling out."

At the last election, Labour campaigned on a number of big-ticket policies, such as building 100,000 KiwiBuild homes in 10 years, fees-free tertiary education and extending paid parental leave.

Ardern this morning suggested that new policy ideas on this type of scale were off the table for Labour this election.

But she did say that the Government's five-point economic plan, which includes a focus on creating new, high-paying jobs and a lot more infrastructure, gives a "strong indication of the momentum we want to maintain, should we be re-elected".

Meanwhile, Ardern said she "fundamentally disagreed" with National and Act's position on debt.

National wants to bring debt down to 30 per cent of GDP within 10 years – that's much faster than the Treasury's current projections.

According to the Budget, Government debt will peak at 2024 when it hits $219 billion (just under 60 per cent of GDP).

Ardern said this morning that for National to achieve their target, it would be $80b worth of cuts.

"I will not have the next generation pay through austerity measures that mean we are unwilling to support them into jobs and making sure they have income support."

When pushed on what Labour's plan was for paying down the debt, Ardern said her plan was in line with the Treasury's.

"Our view is that through the economic plan we have set out, we don't have to experience the harsh cuts that the opposition is promoting."

She pointed out that even after the Government took on the tens of billions of extra Covid-19 debt, New Zealand's debt position is still lower than most other western countries.

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