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News and Updates from Bill English

27 August 2014
Labour would hike its new spending to $18.4b

David Cunliffe and Labour have actually increased their new spending promises for the next four years to $18.4 billion, despite putting some of their proposals such as New Zealand Power on the never-never, National Party Finance Spokesman Bill English says.

“David Cunliffe and David Parker have again been caught out under-costing their expensive promises,” Mr English says. “This is irresponsible and deceptive and confirms that under David Cunliffe, Labour is reverting to its failed spend and tax recipe of the past.

“We saw what happened the last time around – under Labour in 2008, floating mortgage rates reached almost 11 per cent, inflation exceeded 5 per cent and the economy went into recession well before the global financial crisis.”

Labour’s latest costings attempt, which it released on Monday, confirm its untried New Zealand Power proposal, which would give politicians control of the electricity industry and push up power prices, would be postponed until 1 January 2018.

And in another example of it attempting to dress up its numbers, Labour has also pushed back free GP visits for over 65s and other groups to 1 January 2017.

“So while David Cunliffe is going around New Zealand making expensive promises, he is quietly pushing some of them back beyond two elections because he knows they are unaffordable,” Mr English says.

“But he has again failed to hide Labour’s real spending agenda because he has not added in promises made over the last two weeks.

“Even using Labour’s own numbers, the cost of its promises over the next four years is now $17.3 billion – up from its claimed $16.4 billion when it first attempted to cost its policies.

“But when the real costs of its proposed R&D tax credit, compulsory KiwiSaver and New Zealand Power are included, the tally jumps to $18.4 billion – up from around $18 billion the last time around.

“As Labour’s numbers come under scrutiny, they keep changing them,” Mr English says. “David Cunliffe has tried to say he would spend less, but when you add it all up he is actually spending more.”

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26 August 2014
Cunliffe’s fiscal backdown nothing like enough

David Cunliffe and Labour are still committed to irresponsibly spending all of the next four Budgets before the election, despite yesterday attempting – and failing – to recast their ropey fiscal forecasts, National Party Finance Spokesman Bill English says.

“New Zealanders can now see that under David Cunliffe economic history would repeat itself,” he says.

“Having been part of a Labour government that left New Zealand in recession with high interest rates, forecasts of never-ending deficits and ever-rising debt, David Cunliffe has again confirmed he has learnt nothing from the fiscal and economic mess Labour left for New Zealanders.

“Two election campaigns on, he has reverted to form with new spending promises still totalling nearly $18 billion over four years. Having been criticised for being fiscally irresponsible, he belatedly realised he had over-stretched and has attempted to back down. But it hasn’t worked.

“David Cunliffe has scared New Zealanders with his spending plans and he’s scared his partners the Greens. He’s now even scared himself. No wonder the Greens are calling for a full audit of Labour’s numbers.

“The trouble for Labour is that its claims of trimming extra spending just don’t stack up because proper costings of Labour’s tweaked promises still add up to around $18 billion over four years. And that’s before you add the Greens’ promises to spend an extra $10 billion over the same period – and who knows how many billions more by the Dotcom party.

“By contrast, National has committed only a small fraction of future Budgets. This will provide us with flexibility to deal with future shocks, speed up debt repayment or provide future tax reductions should there be room to do so.”

25 August 2014
Labour, Greens and Dotcom would spend up large

It’s too late for Labour to try to look responsible with taxpayers’ money when it has publically committed to four years of new spending with almost a month to run before the election, National Party Finance Spokesman Bill English says.

"Labour is desperately trying to make its big spending commitments look smaller, and has decided to not even put costings on its big spending tertiary and transport commitments.

“Neither David Cunliffe nor David Parker could this morning actually list which of their expensive spending promises would be delayed in what was a failed attempt to appear fiscally prudent.

“Labour would return to their high spending ways, with at least an $18 billion list of new spending commitments," Mr English says.

"That's before you add the Greens’ promises to spend an additional $10 billion over the next four years. Then then there’s the wish list of support partner the Dotcom party, which wants to spend billions more on free tertiary education and community make-work schemes.

“Whatever Labour presents now would be up for negotiation in coalition talks where the Greens would have considerable sway – not to mention concessions demanded by Dotcom.

"On top of that, the Greens and Labour are arguing over their numbers. The Greens say they want Labour’s numbers independently audited – and for good reason.  And as we saw from the weekend, they can't even agree fairly basic stuff like where the two of them think the top personal tax rate should be.

"The last time we saw this sort of approach, New Zealand taxpayers and families were the losers, with high deficits, a stalling economy and mortgage interest rates at nearly 11 per cent. New Zealand simply can't afford the Labour/Greens/Dotcom coalition,” Mr English says.

21 August 2014
New Better Public Services targets aim higher

Better-than-expected progress in reducing crime and having more young people attain higher qualifications means these two Better Public Service targets will be made more challenging if National is returned to government after the election.

The two targets are among 10 this Government has set to ensure the money invested in public services actually delivers demonstrable gains for New Zealanders, National Party Finance Spokesman Bill English and State Services Spokesman Jonathan Coleman say.

“For too long, governments have considered that spending more money equates to fixing problems, even when the evidence shows that simply isn’t the case,” Mr English says.

“That’s why our Government considers results rather than more spending as the best measure of the effectiveness of public services.

“In 2012, we set measurable targets in 10 challenging areas to improve the lives of New Zealanders, particularly the most vulnerable, and it’s pleasing that our six-monthly updates show good progress.

“In two targets, the results have been so much better than anticipated that we’re lifting the bar so we aim for even more improvement.”

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19 August 2014
Greens plainly wrong again on Budget claims

Russel Norman and the Greens have again confirmed they cannot read Budgets, repeating incorrect claims that the National-led Government is planning multi-billion dollar cuts to health and education spending over the next three years.

“If I was Russel Norman, I’d ask BERL to cancel the invoice for their latest report on behalf of the Greens,” National Party Finance Spokesman Bill English says.

“The forecast health and education numbers they quote for future years exclude allocations yet to be made from future annual operating allowances for discretionary spending and they also exclude capital investment allocations.

“These decisions are made by ministers just before each Budget – as they have done under successive governments.

“Typically health and education receive most of this extra discretionary operating spending.”

In Budget 2013, the Vote Health allocation for 2014/15 was in the accounts at $14.1 billion. After Budget 2014 decisions, the total health budget, including discretionary spending and capital investment, was actually $15.6 billion.

“This process happens every year, but Dr Norman obviously doesn’t know that - yet he wants to be finance minister one day.

“Although the Greens are again wrong with their numbers, they also fail to understand that it is the results of spending that matter for New Zealanders – such as lower crime and higher educational achievement.”