National's plan to extend its Homestart grants to help
first home buyers scrape together a deposit will cost $218
million over five years. Photo by APN
Labour is reaching the bottom of the pork barrel with its
remaining election campaign spending promises curbed by
Treasury's forecasts last week of lower tax take.
National, fresh from its $160 million housing announcement
over the weekend, still has hundreds of millions to play with
and will be talking up - but not confirming - tax cuts during
the election campaign.
National's plan to extend its Homestart grants to help first
home buyers scrape together a deposit will cost $218 million
over five years. However it will cost $157.6 million over the
four year time frame of the Herald's Porkometer - our running
total of the cost of two main parties' election promises.
That takes National's total to just over $2 billion.
With no costly policies announced in the last two weeks,
Labour's total remains at $6.69 billion, which it says it
will finance mostly by raising an additional $4.85 billion in
revenue through policies including its capital gains tax and
a crack-down on tax evasion and National's $16 billion in
planned but so far largely uncommitted increases in spending.
However, releasing a fiscal plan updated with Treasury's new
numbers, Labour Leader David Cunliffe yesterday said his
party was cutting its spending plans to the tune of about
$300 million a year.
To do that it has delayed the start of its free doctors
visits and prescriptions for over 65s by six months to
January 2017 resulting in a one off saving of $140 million.
Labour had also shelved six policies it planned to announce
in the run up to the election.
However the party still has one significant policy to
announce which its new fiscal plan shows will reduce its
revenue by almost $100 million year suggesting it is some
kind of tax relief.
The updated figures show Labour is also allowing $100 million
a year, rising to $200 million in years three and four for
the policies of its coalition partners.
While Finance Minister Bill English last week ruled out any
tax cut policy announcement ahead of the election, Prime
Minister John Key yesterday once again said National would
nevertheless have more to say on the prospect over the next
"We are being very cautious about tax and may have more to
say about tax going forward but it will be in a very cautious
The Herald's Porkometer takes its name from "pork barrel
politics" a US term that has its roots in the use of pickled
pork to buy the support of voters in US South in the 19th
- by Adam Bennett, NZ Herald