Wellington, July 21 NZPA - Labour leader Phil Goff is backtracking on his call for the dole to be paid to redundant workers, regardless of the income of their partners.
Mr Goff said yesterday the measure would be temporary and was aimed at taking the pain out of increasing unemployment during the recession.
"You are not talking about people bludging off the system," he said.
"You are talking about people who have often never been unemployed in their lives but lose their job through no fault of their own."
Today, when asked if that meant everyone should be entitled to the unemployment benefit no matter how wealthy his or her partner, he said: "No, no, that's not true.
"This is about ordinary low and middle income New Zealanders, who desperately need transitional help when somebody in the family loses their income."
However, he refused to specify what counted as middle income, and whether there would be a cap.
"I'm saying, as I said yesterday, the details haven't been worked out.
"Is it for millionaires? Of course not."
Prime Minister John Key ruled out the proposal, saying it would cost about $1 billion over three years.
"It demonstrates (Labour) haven't got their heads around what's happening in 2009," Mr Key said.
"It's not that I don't have sympathy for those people but in the end someone has to pay the bill -- and there aren't little pixies at the bottom of the garden printing cash."
Mr Key said the proposal amounted to a major extension of the welfare system.
"It could potentially turn every New Zealander into a beneficiary, if they wanted that, and I don't think that's right."