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Hamilton And Dunedin To Host Party Leaders

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Labour leader Helen Clark is campaigning in Hamilton today while National's John Key visits Dunedin to launch another of his party's policies.

Labour has set a fast pace since the main parties launched their campaigns on Sunday but Mr Key's good performance in Tuesday night's leaders debate put National back on track.

The economy and the international financial crisis continued to dominate the campaign yesterday with Mr Key setting off an argument with the Government.

He announced a National government would legislate for 40 percent of the Super Fund to be invested locally through bonds to fund large infrastructure projects.

The $14.5 billion fund was set up by Finance Minister Michael Cullen to help pay for pensions in the future, and about $1.5 billion of taxpayers' money goes into it each year.

About 23 percent of it is invested in local assets at present, and Dr Cullen said it was wrong to give any finance minister the power to direct where 40 percent of it should go.

He said National wanted to use it for "pet projects".

And Labour's new plan for cheap homes also sparked a spat.

Miss Clark announced Crown land would be freed up so that houses costing about $165,000 could be built by low income families.

The land would stay in Crown ownership and the home owners would not have to pay anything for it.

National's housing spokesman, Phil Heatley, said it was an endorsement of his own Gateway Housing programme -- although that allows home owners to buy the land after 10 years.

Housing Minister Maryan Street said the fundamental difference was that under National's programme they would have to raise a second mortgage to buy the land while they were still paying for their house -- and if they couldn't buy the land they would lose the house.

In other campaign developments yesterday:

* The Greens unveiled their transport policy for Auckland -- a "triple loop" light electric rail system to link all the suburbs with the city centre;

* New Zealand First issued its candidate list and MP Dail Jones has been dropped to 14th place, effectively ending any chance he had of returning to Parliament. The move was apparently punishment for talking about the Owen Glenn donation, which played a part in setting fire to the issue;

* Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia said the dole should be abolished and replaced with a government-subsidised work scheme;

* Mrs Turia also called on the Government to bail out sawmills which were being closed. Forestry Minister Jim Anderton said that was not going to happen.

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