Labour's finance spokesman Grant Robertson has cried foul at National for making big money Government policy announcements during an election campaign.

Robertson made the comments after National leader Bill English announced a new tranche of $270 million to extend the ultra-fast broadband package to 190 small towns and to increase rural broadband and mobile coverage in blackspots on state highways and in tourist hot spots.

Announcing a policy as a government measure rather than a party policy effectively boxes Labour into a position of having to decide whether to go ahead with it - and include the cost of it in their own policy programme - or scrap it.

Robertson said there was a high probability Labour would go ahead with the UFB programme, something it thought should have been moved on sooner.


It was unlikely to impact on Labour's fiscal package because the funding was from capital that was being recycled from the earlier stages of the programme and a Telecommunications Development Levy.

However, he said it was inappropriate that within minutes of the UFB announcement being made it was being used as campaign material.

He said the Cabinet Manual advised against announcing government policies during a campaign.

"I think announcing something as a government policy and then splashing it across the National Party website and Twitter sails very close to the wind."

Last week, National also announced plans for a new hospital for Dunedin as a government measure rather than a party policy.

It is the latest in a tit for tat over the funding of party policies. Earlier this week, National's Steven Joyce claimed Labour's own fiscal plan did not include funding for measures such as its policy to increase paid parental leave to 26 weeks.

Labour re-stated its support for that after National announced it was going to extend paid parental leave to 22 weeks.

In response, Robertson issued a statement today headed "Show me the money, Steven." It said National had made billions of dollars worth of promises which were not already in the Government accounts without specifying how it would pay for them.

Show me the money was a catch cry John Key used in the 2011 campaign to claim Labour had not costed its policies properly. Since then in both 2014 and again in 2017, Labour has produced extensive fiscal plans for their policy programmes.

English said National could account for all its spending pledges, saying it had included allowances in the forecasts for extra operational and capital spending each year. "I would dispute any assertion it's not funded. All our undertakings are funded."

Asked if he was worried the election was turning into a lolly scramble, he said National's policies were mainly long term plans - such as the roading programme which would take 10 years. Its Families Incomes Package had already been budgeted for.