New Zealand First leader Winston Peters' talk of tax cuts won't attract National-leaning voters because of his big spending record, Prime Minister Bill English says.

Peters signalled support for cutting taxes during a speech to a business audience in Wellington last week, saying his party wanted a designated unit within the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) to work on a simpler tax system for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

The party had a team working on policy for cutting tax rates whilst expanding the tax base and collecting tax which is currently not paid by multinationals.

English was asked about that position by Mike Hosking on Newstalk ZB today, including whether he was worried voters wanting tax relief could tick New Zealand First in September's election.


"I think it would take a bit more than that," English said. "Winston Peters doesn't have any track record, generally, on lower taxes. He's generally a big spender. That's how he has worked in the past."

Last month Finance Minister Steven Joyce announced infrastructure spending will lift to $4 billion more in this month's Budget and to $11 billion in the next four years.

Joyce also announced a new debt target for the Government, to reduce net debt to between 10 per cent and 15 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) by 2025.

On the issues of tax cuts, Joyce said the Government remained committed to reducing the tax burden "and in particular the impact of marginal tax rates on lower and middle income earners, when we have the room to do so."

After his speech, Joyce emphatically ruled out cuts to tax rates in the May 25 Budget but hinted there would be some adjustments in thresholds to address bracket creep.