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Labour to target middle income families

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Phil Goff
Phil Goff

Wellington, Dec 6 NZPA - Labour is promising to help the middle class which it says is being squeezed under National.

In a speech to law firm Chapman Tripp in Auckland today, Labour leader Phil Goff said it was not just the poor who were struggling but "forgotten middle income" earners.

"They are working hard but still feel they are going backwards," he said.

"They drive second-hand imports, they are secretaries and travel agents and mechanics, they are process operators and small business owners. What they have in common -- what defines them at the moment, is not their incomes, their jobs or their homes, but the squeeze on them."

He said the middle was squeezed by prices, stalled wages and slow economic growth, and the risk of unemployment.

Labour had introduced working for families but National's approach was to give tax cuts that added to debt but largely benefitted the rich.

The party would not be promising to increase taxes and spending but would focus on creating higher income and better jobs, growing the economy while also keeping the cost of living down.

"Middle income earners... are not expecting and don't want big promises that wouldn't be believable and I won't be making them."

Labour would reform the Reserve Bank and monetary policy, get crown debt down, crack down on tax avoidance, and use Kiwisaver to boost savings, he said. Foreign investment would be welcomed but assets like Kiwibank would not be sold.

Mr Goff said he was making clean tech sector growth a priority and the party would focus more on innovation, science and technology.

National had failed to take measures to reduce the wage gap with Australia; "instead of action we have had gimmicks and false starts", he said.

He accused National of making things worse by cutting in the wrong areas, which had harmed incomes.

"Labour will strongly change direction to bring relief in prices and wages in the near future and long-term activity to build jobs and increase incomes."

Prime Minister John Key said Labour didn't have any policies, just promises.

"They're telling New Zealanders they're not going to spend more, they're going to pay off debt faster, cut taxes to middle income people and at the same time restore payments to the super fund," he said.

"Then they've got to find $250 million for taking GST off fresh fruit and vegetables... from what I can see, they're minus $2.25 billion before they even start."

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