With both major parties making floods of promises in the lead-up to next week's general election, the Herald looks at what having a Labour or National Government would actually mean for you in some key areas. Who would you be better off under?

Your Back Pocket:

The backbone of National's tax policy is putting more money in the pockets of middle-income New Zealanders who can do with it what they will.

Under a National-led Government, people earning a salary of $52,000 or more would be richer to the tune of about $1000 a year. People earning between $22,000 and $48,000 a year would be about $560 better off while people $15,000 or less would receive little to no benefit from tax cuts.

National is also looking at a second round of cuts in years two and three of its tenure. It will also increase the $14,000 income tax threshold to $22,000 and the $48,000 tax threshold to $52,000, meaning a tax reduction of $10.77 a week for anyone earning more than $22,000 a year, increasing to $20.38 a week for anyone earning more than $52,000.


However, the party will scrap the Independent Earners Tax Credit, which currently entitles people earning between $24,000 and $44,000 to an extra $10 a week. Labour has pledged to keep the credit.

National says these people will still be better off through as a result of its other tax policies. It will increase Working for Families tax credits, but not to the same extent as Labour. The party says it will raise the age of super at 67 after 2037.

Labour has outright ruled out tax cuts and would introduce taxes on commercial water use, a tourist tax and an Auckland regional fuel tax of up to 10c a litre.

It will significantly boost the money available to households earning under $42,7000 a year through its Working for Families policy. For example, single-child families making $30,000 would get an extra $20, rising to $47 a week if they have two children or $74 with three children.

This compares with National's $9.25 a week for single-children families, $36.06 for two children and $62.87 for three (on top of the tax cuts above). But it's with middle-income earners where Labour's Working for Families policy most significantly diverts from National's: A $55,000-a-year household with one child would be $42 a week better off under Labour but $6.21 a week worse off under National.

A family with two children would get $69 a week under Labour, $20.60 under National, and a three-child family an added $95 under Labour and $47 under National.

Both parties are aligned on increasing the Accommodation Supplement by an average of $36 a week for the 136,000 households currently receiving it. This can go up to $140 a week for larger families in high-cost areas. Labour will keep the retirement age at 65.


National will extend $18 doctor visits to an additional 600,000 lower-income New Zealander while giving an additional 350,000 New Zealanders access to the Community Services Card, meaning cheaper prescriptions and other health services.

This, the party says, will be introduced by July 2018. It will retain its current policy of free GP visits to under 13s.

Labour also intends to keep this policy while further promising to cut the price of GP visits to Community Services Card holders to $8 for adults and $2 for teens. The party also proposes lowering the average standard doctor's visit fee from $42 to $32 and the maximum fee from $69 to $59.

On paid parental leave, National will extend the current 18 week period to 22 while Labour will push it out even further to 26 weeks.


National has a strong focus on driving students towards the booming IT and construction industries. The party has vowed to get 80 per cent of 13 year olds at or above National Standards in maths by 2021 and says it will give all children have the opportunity to learn a second language at primary school, should they wish to.

The party also wants to revamp National Standards, which test year 1 to 8 pupils on reading, writing and maths, so children, parents and teachers can track their progress throughout the year "at a more granular level". "National Standards Plus" would start to be rolled out in 2019.

Labour will abolish the National Standards testing regime and develop an entirely new system. A key focus for Labour will be to increase the number of young people pursuing careers in trades like construction to address the burgeoning demand for housing.

As well as upping living cost and student allowances for tertiary students, Labour wants to accelerate its "Three Years' Free" policy, starting with one year free tertiary study from January 2018. It plans to provide three years' free tertiary study by 2024.


Labour wants to ban foreign speculators from buying New Zealand homes and make property buyers who resell houses within five years pay tax on any capital gains earned - up from the current two years.

The party has set a highly ambitious target of building 100,000 affordable homes over 10 years, with 50 per cent of them in Auckland. Standalone houses in Auckland, the party says, will cost between $500,000 and $600,000 with apartments and townhouses under $500,000. Outside Auckland, houses will range from $300,000 to $500,000.

For renters, Labour will increase the 42 day notice period to 90 days, ban letting fees and limit rent increases to once a year instead of the current half year period.

National says it will build 34,000 new homes in Auckland over the next ten years, 13,500 of these will be social homes and 20,500 "affordable and market homes". The party says between 20 and 50 per cent of homes in the latter category would be affordable homes priced under $650,000.

However, 8600 homes existing homes would be demolished in order to make way for National's new builds. It is not clear how many homes would be knocked down to make way for Labour's 100,000 new homes.

National will also make it easier for first home buyers to get a deposit by doubling the financial support available when buying an existing house. This means a couple will be eligible for an extra $10,000 of Government HomeStart Grants, taking the grants to $20,000 for an existing home or $30,000 for a new build.