By Ian Llewellyn of NZPA
Rotorua, Jan 31 NZPA - National MPs will today discuss economic
policy and whether to back the work place saving scheme KiwiSaver.
National Leader John Key has told his MPs during their planning
retreat in Rotorua that despite riding high in the polls it would
take discipline to remove Labour from Government.
This will include presenting a united front on controversial
policies such as KiwiSaver, privatisation and welfare.
KiwiSaver is one of the centre pieces of Labour's policy and its
future could be one of the battlegrounds of the coming election.
National has so far only backed KiwiSaver as it was first
introduced, but has expressed scepticism about the "turbocharged"
version which includes compulsory employer contributions.
MPs will today debate whether they should swallow the whole
package, but it is not clear whether any decision will be finalised
National's finance spokesman Bill English will also take a look
at the wider economic package which Mr Key says will show National
has more ambition for New Zealand's future than Labour.
National's plans for tax cuts are not expected to be outlined
until much closer until the election, which must be held by
The two-day planning retreat follows the opening salvos of both
Mr Key and Prime Minister Helen Clark over youth policy.
Mr Key said MPs would be looking at a number of policy areas and
while some would require further work, there would be some
announcements made this week.
MPs would also be discussing housing affordability, welfare, law
and order, and education.
Labour has accused National of having a secret agenda and says if
elected there would be a return to privatisation, social spending
cuts and other policies which were advanced by National in the
Mr Key said MPs would be working through controversial issues
over the year, some could be sorted out in the coming days, but he
did not say which ones.
The claim that National had a secret agenda had "no basis in
truth" and showed Labour was short of ideas, Mr Key said.
Mr Key has already moved to neutralise some issues that kept the
party offside with many voters most notably matching Labour's
Labour will also continue to attack National over privatisation,
social spending and health policy until Mr Key can persuade voters
his party has credible policy in those areas.
Mr Key said the party was in good heart, but his MPs were "under
no illusions" about the work that would be required to prevent Miss
Clark forming her fourth government.
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