John Key. Photo Getty
Prime Minister John Key gave the strongest hint yet that
modest tax cuts for low- and middle-income earners will form
part of National's pre-election promises.
The National Party respected New Zealanders and their
hard-earned incomes, he told 600 delegates to the party's
conference in Wellington.
"If we can't use that money as well as you can, then it's
simple - you should keep it."
He has raised the issue of tax cuts on and off for several
months now as one of the ways on which to spend forecast
surpluses, always with the caveat of them being targeted at
low- to middle-income earners and being modest.
Mr Key said after his speech that no decision had yet been
made on any such tax cuts.
But the fact that he included another mention in his
conference speech suggests they will form part of National's
campaign for the September 20 election.
A $212 million regional road and bridge-building programme
was the centrepiece of his speech.
The party's campaign slogan "Working for New Zealand" was
unveiled at the conference, as was #Team Key, a one-stop hub
for social media related to National policies and candidates.
Campaign chairman Steven Joyce announced that the party had
set numerical targets for the party vote in specific
electorates, rather than a percentage, in a bid to lift voter
This time Mr Joyce and campaign director Jo de Joux have
targeted not just seats where National polled high in the
party vote last time but some Labour-held seats, including
Christchurch East, Dunedin South, Mana, New Lynn (the seat of
Labour leader David Cunliffe), Palmerston North, Port Hills,
Rimutaka, Te Atatu, Wellington Central, West Coast-Tasman and
Labour and the Opposition featured relatively strongly over
the weekend, even though Governments don't usually give
opposition parties any profile.
But Mr Key, Mr Joyce, Finance Minister Bill English and
Attorney-General Chris Finlayson all took an opportunity to
knock the Opposition.
Mr Finlayson raised the spectre of a multi-headed opposition
Hydra that kept springing new heads.
Mr English said the Greens were vindictive and dangerous.
Mr Joyce posed a rhetorical question: "If Laila Harre, Hone
Harawira, Pam Corkery, Kim Dotcom, Russel Norman, Metiria
Turei, David Cunliffe, Matt McCarten, and John Minto are the
answer, can we please have another look at the question?"
And Mr Key took aim yesterday in his speech.
"Labour has David Cunliffe, who takes himself so seriously
that other people don't have to," Mr Key said.
"The Greens have two co-leaders who want to be
co-deputy-prime ministers in some kind of bizarre job-sharing
"Internet Mana - the Maori radical meets file-sharing party -
is a strange mix of goodness know what they stand for."
Mr Key denied that National's coalition potential partners
following the election were just as complicated as the Labour
"For a start off we are likely, if we form the next
Government, to be very dominant in that Government, as we
have been over the last six years and that puts a very
different perspective on governing relations," he told Radio
New Zealand this morning.
The Labour Party, which at the moment was polling under 30
per cent, needed other parties to govern, including the Green
Party if they reached 11 or 12 per cent, Mr Key said.
The National Party had not yet made a decision on who future
coalition partners would be, he said.