Claire Trevett is the New Zealand Herald’s deputy political editor.

Govt cheats workers: Little

Mr Little said the Budget should deliver more to health and education, as well as housing affordability. Photo / Ben Fraser
Mr Little said the Budget should deliver more to health and education, as well as housing affordability. Photo / Ben Fraser

Labour leader Andrew Little's pre-Budget speech claiming New Zealand workers have been cheated out of $50 a week to the benefit of property investors and corporates has been dismissed by National as a "list of slogans".

Yesterday, Mr Little said that since National came into power in 2008, 37 per cent of economic growth had gone into the pay packets of workers compared to 50 per cent under the former Labour government. The share that had gone into company profits and returns from property investment had increased.

He said that was a symptom of a government catering to the wealthy few rather than working families, who would be $50 a week better off if their share of economic growth had not been eroded. "All up, the average family has missed out on more than $13,000 under this government."

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce was dismissive of Mr Little's numbers. "[He] is holding the numbers upside down again."

Mr Joyce said a better measure of pay growth was Statistic New Zealand's employment survey, which showed wages had risen about twice as fast as inflation over the past seven years.

Mr Little said the Budget should deliver more to health and education, as well as housing affordability.

He also ridiculed Prime Minister John Key for hinting at a $3 billion tax-cut package after 2017.

"While our Prime Minister speculates about fuelling his next election campaign with $3 billion of unfunded tax cuts, the public services that middle New Zealand relies on are stretched to breaking point."

Asked how he would return the missing $50 to workers' pockets, Mr Little said Labour policies would improve housing affordability.

"That is why things are getting so out of kilter and why wage and salaries have got no chance of keeping up with house-price inflation, and in a lot of other areas."

Asked if tax cuts could help return that money to workers, the Labour leader said most people wanted to see public services improved.

Mr Joyce said Mr Little's speech was "a list of slogans ... There was not a lot of substance beneath that except that they'd spend a lot of money in a whole lot of areas."

He said that would only add debt.

- NZ Herald

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