By Alex Tarrant
It's getting dirty.
Labour and National were this morning getting down to some good ole mud-slinging as the November 26 election approaches.
From the opposition it was a skeleton from John Key's past and the comment the PM didn't have the balls to debate the big issues.
From the incumbents, it was the launch of a new website with a guesstimate of how much more a Labour government would have to borrow over the next four years if it gets into power and implements the policies it's promising.
'Come clean Mr Key'
Following a stint on National Radio this morning where he said the Prime Minister did not have the "balls" to debate the issue of raising the superannuation age, Phil Goff sent out a media release with comments made by Key in 2004 that pointed to support for raising the super age.
Labour yesterday announced it would implement the Retirement Commissioner's recommendation for the superannuation eligibility age to be raised by two months a year from 2020 to 2033 from 65 to 67. John Key has promised to resign before backing a policy that would see the Super age rise above 65.
"Why is John Key so afraid to front up? He should stop being glib and have the guts to debate the issues that matter to New Zealanders. He can't even get his story straight on the plan to gradually increase the age of Super," Goff said in the release.
“In 2004, he said: 'will lifting the retirement age by a couple of years in twenty years' time be all that big a deal? I suspect not. If anything it is likely to be welcomed by the majority of New Zealanders who recognize that increased levels of longevity inevitably means that any private capital they have squirreled away will need to be spread more thinly and last longer.'"
“Now he suddenly claims it is a 'cruel joke' to gradually lift the age by a couple of years over 22 years. It's about time John Key told Kiwis the truth. What does he really believe? It seems he does actually agree the age should be increased but he doesn't have the courage to make the tough decisions," Goff said.
"He is also being contradicted by his own Finance Minister (Bill English) who says he thinks it is a 'legitimate debate'.”
'We'll owe our future, not own it'
It was then National Party campaign manager Stephen Joyce's turn to sling mud back at Labour, by announcing a new website administered by National with an estimate of how much more borrowing Labour's policies would require.
Labour's latest spending binge would leave Phil Goff borrowing an extra NZ$16.6 billion more over the next four years than is laid out in the pre-election fiscal and economic update, Joyce said in a media statement.
“Labour wants to borrow billions more at precisely the time when the world is saying no to more debt. They are trying to hide it by saying they will lift the Super age, but even if they did, there would be no savings from that until it starts kicking in in 11 years time in 2022,” Joyce said.
“So Labour wants to force Kiwis to work two years’ longer as a figleaf to cover for the reckless and panicked promises it has been making in the run-up to November 26. Make no mistake, Labour’s recipe would mean we would owe our future," he said.
The figures were laid out in a new website administered by the National Party and officially launched today, called www.oweourfuture.co.nz.
"Just yesterday we released figures showing Labour had reached NZ$9 billion extra spending over the next four years. Labour's spending commitments in its so-called 'savings' announcement would leave Kiwi taxpayers an extra NZ$7 billion in debt by 2015/16," Joyce said.
The website would be updated as new Labour spending promises were made, and there had been a number of changes already, he said. The website was "taking a deliberately conservative approach to estimating the cost of the spending promises that Labour has been making".
"We've generously taken an optimistic view of how much would be raised by Labour's vague new taxes, which include a capital gains tax, and a GST package, that not even Labour can explain," Joyce said.
"These estimates don't include a large number of smaller promises that Labour MPs have made over the past three years and we'd welcome public help where promises have been made and are not included in our estimates."