Ardern blasts National's 'totally irresponsible' tax cut plans

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern has criticised National's tax cuts policy, saying they are "unaffordable" and "irresponsible" as the country battles Covid-19's economic impact.

"I think it's totally irresponsible," Ardern told reporters this afternoon.

She accused National of raiding the funding set aside to help New Zealand battle Covid-19's economic impact: "We just can't afford it."

Ardern said voters would look at both National and Labour's tax policies and be able to make a decision about what was right, right now.

Labour's finance spokesman Grant Robertson said the policy "simply does not add up" and the party would not be able to fund district health boards.

"It feels to me it's been done on the fly."

Earlier today National said the $10 billion campaign promise would, among other things, see a National government lift the bottom, middle and top tax thresholds.

National leader Judith Collins said this would save a middle-income earner roughly $3000 a year, or $50 a week.

Robertson immediately criticised the policy as "desperate and reckless".

He said it "beggars belief" and would put New Zealand's economic recovery at risk.

"New Zealanders need a stable and prudent path to Covid economic recovery but Judith Collins and Paul Goldsmith are putting the economic future of this country at risk with a series of ill-thought out and desperate policies," Robertson said.

He warned that National's plan was "more about stimulating their dreadful poll numbers, than stimulating the economy".

Ardern and Robertson have spent today in the Wairarapa visiting water treatment plants and meeting locals.

Ardern said she was confident that Labour was going to win the Wairarapa seat, which is currently held by National's Alastair Scott, who is not standing again.

Labour announces plan to freeze controversial Provincial Growth Fund

Labour has today announced plans to create a $200 million Regional Strategic Partnership Fund.

Ardern said the policy was for "ongoing" commitment to the regions.

It appears to be a scaled-down version of the Provincial Growth Fund - the $3 billion crown jewel in New Zealand First's coalition agreement with Labour.

She said the PGF investment will continue "for some time" but there would be no new investments - only continued support of already contracted initiatives.

Ardern said the country had benefitted from the Government's spending in provincial New Zealand.

She named-checked the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) as one such area.

Ardern said "we have been the Government of infrastructure... and the Government for the region".

Earlier today Ardern stressed the PGF "was only ever resourced for three years."

"We now want to take the lessons from this support and work to develop a new approach to regional development. We want this to be driven by regions from the ground up."

Speaking to Labour's new regional development policy, Phil Twyford said the plan was designed to support regional economic development strategies".

The PGF has been "ground breaking" and one of the biggest funds of this type in the world.

Looking forward, Labour would take a "more focused approach" to regional development with its $200 million fund, Twyford said.

The policy would be linked with Labour's industry policy; this would help grow sectors such as agritech and the digital area.

Twyford talked up the provincial development unit, which would be "fine tuned".

In terms of what's left in the PGF, Robertson said there was not a lot left and the bulk of it had either been spent, or already allocated.

"This is the next stage," Robertson said.

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