Eight weeks out from the election, Labour's new spending promises are running streets ahead of National's, but John Key's Government has left itself plenty of fiscal headroom to catch up between now and polling day.

This election, the Herald is reviving the "Porkometer", our running tally of expensive new policies announced by the two major parties from 2011 through to election day this year.

With three big-ticket policy areas costing around a billion dollars or more - education, the Best Start child welfare package, and the KiwiBuild home construction programme - Labour's spending promises at $5.15 billion for the next four years have easily outstripped National's, which total $1.31 billion so far.

However, like National, Labour is promising to balance the books. It would do so by raising $4.85 billion in extra revenue over four years through its capital gains tax, crackdown on tax evasion and other initiatives. Therefore this election's Porkometer will also compare both parties' new spending promises against their projected revenue increases.


The Porkometer takes its name from the US term "pork barrel", which refers to politicians advancing spending in particular geographical or special-interest areas to curry favour with voters.