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Election Campaign Launches Put Economy At Forefront

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The formal election campaigns of the major parties kicked off today with the international economic crisis firmly the centre of attention.

Labour leader Helen Clark dominated the launches by announcing the Government would implement a bank deposit scheme to match moves being made across the Tasman and around the world.

Speaking at the Auckland Town Hall, Miss Clark said her party had a policy to face up to the international freeze on credit which is chilling the world economy.

A few hundred metres down the road at the Sky City Convention Centre, National leader John Key said his party had the plan to kick-start the shrinking local economy and give confidence in worrying times.

Mr Key told supporters National was the party to lead New Zealand out of the gloom.

"I'm campaigning on strengthening our economy, on rising to the challenge presented by tough global conditions, and on delivering greater prosperity to New Zealanders and their families -- because Kiwis are sick of struggling to keep up with the cost of living, they're sick of worrying about soaring interest rates and they're sick of higher taxes," Mr Key said.

He accused Labour of squandering nine years of economic good times and leaving behind a decade of government budget deficits.

Pressing home the advantage of the prime minister's office, Miss Clark laid out what she would be doing now and also what would happen if re-elected for a historic fourth term.

"Central to our vision for a strong economy is a plan focusing on six critical drivers of economic growth. Labour will also bring forward significant infrastructure spending if necessary in order to secure real jobs."

The drivers were education and skills training, innovation, boosting exports, sustainability, infrastructure and savings.

Finance Minister Michael Cullen was to announce detailed policy this week.

Around the world political and financial leaders are meeting to discuss plans to prop up ailing banks and inject cash into an economic system suffering from a total failure in confidence.

Mr Key said that aside from last week's tax cuts package, the economy needed additional stimulus in the downturn and several other National policies would help boost growth.

They included reforming the Resource Management Act, cutting other red tape, boosting infrastructure investment, restraining government spending and raising education standards.

Earlier in the day ACT launched its campaign with leader Rodney Hide saying only his party could put some backbone into a National-led government.

Mr Hide told about supporters at the Alexandra Park Raceway in Auckland that Labour had been a bad manager of the economy and National was copying most of its policy.

ACT was needed to force any change, he said.

"This election I am asking you to ensure the next National government makes a difference.

He called for wider and deeper tax cuts immediately.

Across town at the United Future launch at the University Cafe, party leader Peter Dunne said a vote for his party would ensure a moderate sensible approach to government, moderating the excesses of the two major parties.

Last weekend, the Greens and New Zealand First launched their campaigns ahead of the election on November 8.

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