Key Points:

15.28pm:

Labour's finance spokesman Michael Cullen has outlined what would be in his party's

, should Labour be re-elected. He said the economic policy would have two strands - a short term rescue package and longer term policies aimed at increasing productivity - and would mainly consist of bringing forward planned building projects such as new schools, sewerage schemes and state housing improvements.

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- NZPA

14.34pm

ACT would rather see extra taxpayer funds go to tertiary institutions than students. It opposes Labour's universal student allowance policy, saying the country cannot afford it. ACT's Heather Roy says investment should be in quality education, not encouraging people who will be landed with loans to go to university, when they might be better off employed elsewhere.

- Newstalk ZB

13.47pm:

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters told an audience at Waikato University this afternoon a vote for his party would "make your parents' future better and help you save your Grandma". Mr Peters also said he believed Labour had underestimated the cost of its

. "This cannot be accurate," he said. "Refer the numbers to your economic department - I bet they agree with me when I say the cost is much more than that."

- NZPA

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13.14pm:

Trans-Atlantic rowing race winner Rob Hamill has announced he is standing for the Green Party in next month's election. Mr Hamill is at number 56 (out of 67) on the Green Party list and will stand in the electorate of Taranaki-King Country.

- NZ Herald Staff

13.04pm:

Tauranga National Party candidate Simon Bridges took questions from

this morning. Mr Bridges, 32, said National had a new younger generation of leaders and wanted to provide a better future for New Zealand.

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- NZPA

12.18pm:

The Green Party supports the idea of a post-election mini-budget. Labour's proposal has been criticised by National, which is demanding its opponent be up-front before the election. Greens co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons agrees parties should reveal their plans before the election, but that would mean a post-election mini-budget would be needed to put those plans into place. She says a Parliamentary vote would be needed to approve expenditure and that should happen as soon as possible so things can get started.

- Newstalk ZB

11.57:

Labour's finance spokesman Michael Cullen has told a Maritime Union conference in Porirua that, if re-elected, Labour would ask the New Zealand Super fund to invest

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. Dr Cullen also said Labour would issue long-term infrastructure bonds with a tax-free inflation-indexed element to create an electrified railway network for Auckland, including the North Shore and beyond. And he committed Labour to increasing the minimum wage during the next term of government so it at least kept pace with movements in the average wage or the consumer price index - whichever was greater.

- NZPA

11.36:

Prime Minister Helen Clark has made her one public appearance for the day - to launch Labour's election campaign

- before she retreats to prepare for tonight's first television leaders' debate. She appeared on Upper Queen Street to unveil the billboard, which features the words "Kiwibank, KiwiSaver, KiwiRail - Keep it Kiwi, Vote Labour." There is no picture of Helen Clark on the billboard, but she said she was confident her face was already on enough of the Party's hoardings around the country.

- Claire Trevett

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11.08am:

National leader John Key has announced his party's maternity care policy at a meeting in West Auckland. An audience of about 30 National Party invitees - mainly mothers with young children - were at Henderson's Packing Shed Cafe and Gallery to hear Mr Key's announcement. He pledged that National would put an extra $11 million dollars a year into maternity care if elected, with the aim of providing an extra 24 hours in hospital for women after they gave birth. Money would also be put aside to ensure more home visits by health practitioners once a mother returned home with her newborn child. Mr Key said National would fund a

and he reiterated his party's health workforce policy, whereby health professionals who volunteered to work in hard-to-staff areas would be eligible to student loan write-offs of up to $10,000 a year.

- Martin Johnston

10.45am:

National's finance spokesman Bill English has voiced reservations about the Government's

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, saying it might be necessary to extend the coverage of the guarantee to interbank borrowing, as was being offered in Australia.

""The bottom line here is whether or not leaving out the international loans to New Zealand banks from the guarantee will constrain our banks in providing credit," Mr English told Radio New Zealand.

- Adam Bennett

9.30am:

Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons has lashed National's decision to axe a 15-year $1 billion

set up as part of emissions trading legislation. The policy, which the Government agreed to in return for the Greens' support for the legislation, is due to start next year and will be paid for through profits recycled from state-owned power companies as a result of the emissions trading scheme (ETS). National's environment spokesman Nick Smith yesterday told Radio New Zealand that National had never agreed to the insulation programme and would scrap it if it became government.

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- NZPA

9.00am:

Prime Minister Helen Clark and National leader John Key go head to head tonight in the first major televised leaders' debate of the election campaign. Both will be spending some time in Auckland today preparing for the event on TV One. Mr Key says he will not have the same problem as his his predecessor Don Brash, who stated after the 2005 debate with Miss Clark, that it was not gentlemanly to interrupt a woman.

- Newstalk ZB

8.50am:

The New Zealand Union of Students Associations is calling on National to

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of a universal student allowance, or not bother at all. New Zealand Union of Students Associations co-president Paul Falloon says students have been campaigning for a universal allowance for years. He says National has indicated it will make changes, but he believes it will not be enough.

"They (National) will probably look to do something to increase the status quo but will fall short of the universal allowance which will fall short of our expectations."

However the vice-chancellor of Victoria University, Pat Walsh, says the money Labour wishes to allocate to a universal student allowance would be better spent on

and quality of universities.

"It's all very well supporting a system that's affordable, but we want it to be of high quality and the underfunding of New Zealand universities is going to lead to a compromise of quality over time."

- Newstalk ZB and NZPA

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