New ACT Party leader Don Brash would not set any bottom lines for economic policies he would like accepted in a coalition deal with National after the November 26 election, despite criticising National's handling of the economy.
Speaking on TV1's Q&A programme, Brash said National had critisised the former Labour government's policies such as interest free student loans but had failed to change them.
Before his takeover of ACT, which he was confirmed as leader of on Saturday, Brash led the government's 2025 taskforce. It was tasked with identifying economic policies needed to close a 30% wage gap with Australia by 2025. Prime Minister John Key and Finance Minister Bill English brushed aside the vast majority of the recommendations, saying they would be too extreme to impliment.
Asked whether a policy of raising the pension age would be a bottom line, Brash said he did not think it was "prudent at all to talk about bottom lines in anything".
"I certainly think that John Key is being irresponsible in saying that it must not go up," Brash said in reference to Prime Minister John Key's pledge to resign before his government raised the eligibility age for Superannuation payments, currently 65.
"I mean, Australia, UK, US, Germany, Denmark – all are raising that age, and every objective observer says it has to gradually – and I stress gradually – change over a period of a decade," Brash said.
Meanwhile, Brash noted Key labeled the removal of interest on student loans as a huge election bribe.
"And it was. I mean, let’s try and be objective. The Labour government in the first two terms were quite responsible, fiscally. They didn’t have a great burst of government spending. In the last term, they went bonkers. And National said so, not just me but John Key said so, again and again. But in government we’ve done nothing about it," Brash said.
Should Brash already be setting bottom lines for economic policies National would need to accept if it wanted ACT as a coalition partner?
Or should he wait to see what type of polling ACT has after his takeover?
Brash wants ACT to get 10% of the Party vote - if National has to accept ACT as a coalition partner, which policies should Brash set as bottom lines?