30 Sep 2020

Cutting benefits off the table in ACT coalition - Judith Collins

10:26 am on 30 September 2020

National Party leader Judith Collins says cutting benefits is not on the table if it were to enter into a coalition agreement with the ACT Party.

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Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

Collins told Morning Report she would not agree to austerity measures promoted by ACT.

The continuous rise of the ACT Party is not worrying Collins.

"ACT ... they're polling significantly lower than us. We're not going down a cutting of benefits for people who can't put food on the table, we're not going to go down that mine.

"But there's been a few good things we can agree on, particularly around RMA reforms, around freeing up housing, getting people into houses in the first place by allowing the private sector to do its job, but also ... don't worry about these things, these are coalition discussions, there's a long way to go."

She said ACT had been careful about not making foolish bottom lines on policies like the Greens did on the wealth tax.

Green Party co-leader James Shaw said his senior MP misspoke under pressure when she said a wealth tax was one of the party's bottom lines.

She said NZ First leader Winston Peters was on his "last leg when it comes to politics".

The National caucus made it clear they did not want a bar of him, she said.

"At the last election he chose to go with Labour and the Greens - it's his choice - but ultimately he is someone who I think his time in politics has come to an end."

Collins also wanted to remind people that at the last 2017 general election National got more votes than Labour.

"With MMP (Mixed Member Proportional) you just never know what's going to happen.

"In MMP, as we saw last time, the losing party ended up forming the government because of what Mr Peters and the Greens did."

She dismissed the question about National's economic policy not adding up.

"There is no fiscal plan at all from the Labour Party so it is very easy to criticise National because we actually have put out a plan."

Collins defended National finance spokesperson Paul Goldsmith saying at least he had a plan and acknowledged the errors.

"Grant Robertson's got no plan except to criticise Paul Goldsmith, that is ridiculous - you can't have the finance minister of the governing Labour Party going into a debate and election with no fiscal plan at all ... where is his plan?"

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