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Responding to Finance Minister Bill English's speech, Labour leader Andrew Little said the Government had no long-term strategy to the real problems being faced by New Zealanders, after eight years.

He was most focused on what he said was a lack of measures to address housing affordability, and stressed that National had eight years to come up with a plan.

Today's Budget was "scratched out, patchwork", that was designed to look like an economic strategy.


"And it's not, it doesn't go anywhere near this Budget, Bill English's eighth, they have failed."

Mr Little said the Government's approach to economic management was akin to a fair, where "candy floss" and "a few trinkets" were handed out. The spending items in the Budget were like those to be won in a quick-fire raffle, he said: "When you get home and find it's past its use by date.

Mr Little said the Government was out of touch, citing the Prime Minister not calling the housing situation a crisis. He said this Budget did nothing to help moderate rising house prices, and home affordability.

"On housing, nothing in the Budget today will hardly make a difference to the real problems faced in the housing sector.

"And they wonder why we have people now living in cars and garages around Auckland ... none of the measures in this Budget will lift home ownership rates in Auckland ... it will not solve the crisis."

Mr Little acknowledged the extra spending in health, but said it was still not enough to help the health system keep up with rising real costs: "More New Zealanders will wind up in greater pain for a lot longer."

The stark reality of the education measures was that operational funding for schools was frozen, and that would mean parents would pay more in school donations, Mr Little said.

Labour would stand up for middle New Zealand. It would diversify the economy, Mr Little said, and would invest in infrastructure properly, and in skills and training, including three years' free tertiary education or training.

"Labour's ideas will kick-start the economy and it will deliver more for everyone."

In housing there would be one guiding principle, and that was to build more houses, the Labour leader said, to applause from his colleagues.

"Here's my message - this Government isn't delivering for you, but Labour will ... Labour is ready to serve," he concluded.