Adam Bennett

Adam is a political reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

National has goodies in reserve

National's plan to extend its Homestart grants to help first home buyers scrape together a deposit will cost $218 million over five years. Photo / APN
National's plan to extend its Homestart grants to help first home buyers scrape together a deposit will cost $218 million over five years. Photo / APN

Labour is reaching the bottom of the pork barrel with its remaining election campaign spending promises curbed by Treasury's forecasts last week of lower tax take.

National, fresh from its $160 million housing announcement over the weekend, still has hundreds of millions to play with and will be talking up - but not confirming - tax cuts during the election campaign.

National's plan to extend its Homestart grants to help first home buyers scrape together a deposit will cost $218 million over five years. However it will cost $157.6 million over the four year time frame of the Herald's Porkometer - our running total of the cost of two main parties' election promises.

That takes National's total to just over $2 billion.

With no costly policies announced in the last two weeks, Labour's total remains at $6.69 billion, which it says it will finance mostly by raising an additional $4.85 billion in revenue through policies including its capital gains tax and a crack-down on tax evasion and National's $16 billion in planned but so far largely uncommitted increases in spending.

However, releasing a fiscal plan updated with Treasury's new numbers, Labour Leader David Cunliffe yesterday said his party was cutting its spending plans to the tune of about $300 million a year.

To do that it has delayed the start of its free doctors visits and prescriptions for over 65s by six months to January 2017 resulting in a one off saving of $140 million.

Labour had also shelved six policies it planned to announce in the run up to the election.
However the party still has one significant policy to announce which its new fiscal plan shows will reduce its revenue by almost $100 million year suggesting it is some kind of tax relief.

The updated figures show Labour is also allowing $100 million a year, rising to $200 million in years three and four for the policies of its coalition partners.

While Finance Minister Bill English last week ruled out any tax cut policy announcement ahead of the election, Prime Minister John Key yesterday once again said National would nevertheless have more to say on the prospect over the next five weeks.

``We are being very cautious about tax and may have more to say about tax going forward but it will be in a very cautious considered way."

The Herald's Porkometer takes its name from "pork barrel politics" a US term that has its roots in the use of pickled pork to buy the support of voters in US South in the 19th century.

- NZ Herald

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