12 May 2014

Labour sets 4 percent jobless target

5:16 pm on 12 May 2014

The Labour Party aims to bring unemployment down to 4 percent by the end of its first term - if it's elected, leader David Cunliffe says.

Mr Cunliffe said that would result in 20,000 more people being in work than is currently being forecast by the National-led Government.

Asked whether he was staking his political reputation on that promise, Mr Cunliffe said: "Ah yes, I believe that this is a very serious target and Labour will make a determined effort to get to 4 percent unemployment by the end of our first term."

A Labour government would try to run surpluses, barring another international downturn or domestic disaster, he said, adding it would need to post surpluses in order to pay down the debt accumulated under National.

Prime Minister John Key rubbished Labour's new target, saying it was easy to throw out numbers but much harder to make it a reality.

"So are they still opposed to the expansion of agriculture, with a Greens partner? Absolutely," Mr Key said.

"Are they opposed to oil and gas exploration? Absolutely they are. Are they proposing to tighten up employment legislation in New Zealand? Absolutely they are.

"Are they going to raise taxes on New Zealanders and slow down the economy? Absolutely they are."

It was all very well to set a target but a government had to have the right policy mix to make it happen, Mr Key said.