28 Jan 2014

Govt accuses Labour of starting election lolly scramble

11:02 am on 28 January 2014

The Government says the year has barely started, and the Labour and Green parties have already announced nearly three quarters of a billion dollars a year worth of policies.

Labour has unveiled a package for new parents, while the Greens have announced a new policy for low decile schools.

Labour would give all families earning up to $150,000 a year, $60 a week to spend how they wish, as well as five extra hours of subsidised early childhood education a week and extended paid parental leave.

It would cost $147 million in its first year, rising to $566 million a year in 2020.

The Greens package comes with an annual price of $100 million.

The Government says both parties are busy racking up costly policies to win votes and the policies have already exceeded Government budgets laid down for the coming years.

After Labour's announcement on Monday, Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce questioned where Labour thinks it will get the money from.

He said the country cannot spend its way to prosperity and Labour needs to get real about Government spending.

Mr Joyce told Morning Report that Mr Cunliffe has carried out a sleight of hand by suggesting he can fund the policies by keeping GST on fruit and vegetables.

Further comment

Budgeting and child poverty groups say Labour's promise of $60 a week could make a real difference to those on low incomes.

The Federation of Family Budgeting Services says there is no shortage of families needing help, and it is seeing more people earning about 50 thousand dollars seeking assistance.

Both the Child Poverty Action Group and the Family Centre say the plan has the potential to change lives and is a good step towards creating a universal child policy.

But the Taxpayers Union says it is an attempt by Labour to buy middle class votes.