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Labour Keeps Up Momentum In Campaign

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Labour kept up the momentum of its New Zealand election campaign today with the announcement of an economic recovery policy it said would be implemented before the end of the year if it wins on November 8.

Finance spokesman Michael Cullen laid it out, describing it as a short term rescue package and longer term policies aimed at increasing productivity.

It consists mainly of bringing forward planned building projects such as new schools, sewerage schemes and state housing improvement.

"We are not just going to sit on our hands," said Dr Cullen, who wants to protect jobs and productivity as the international credit crisis hits home.

National's leader John Key launched his party's maternity care policy, saying the dumped Plunketline would be fully reinstated and every new mother and baby would have weekly contact with a lead maternity carer for the first nine weeks.

Mr Key and Prime Minister Helen Clark had light agendas today as they prepared for tonight's leaders debate on TV One.

In other campaign developments today:

* The Greens were horrified when National said it would scrap the $1 billion home insulation programme.

National's environment spokesman Nick Smith said his party never agreed to the "reckless" scheme which wasn't properly funded.

Greens co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said National's record on climate change was "abysmal" and the decision to scrap the scheme must have sunk any chance of the Greens working with National after the election.

* Dr Cullen said National's leadership would be briefed ahead of any further announcement on the bank deposit scheme.

Mr Key was upset because he wasn't briefed in advance of the announcement on Sunday.

* Miss Clark unveiled a Labour election billboard which picks up on asset sales, which Labour thinks is one of National's weak points.

The billboard says "Keep it Kiwi -- vote Labour" and says Kiwibank, KiwiSaver and KiwiRail must be protected from sale or interference by a National-led government.

"All three have been attacked and opposed by the short-sighted National Party, which could not be trusted to keep these hugely beneficial policies and assets," Miss Clark said.

* New Zealand First leader Winston Peters questioned Labour's costing of its universal student allowance policy.

Labour says it would cost $210 million a year, but Mr Peters said that was too low.

"Refer the numbers to your economics department -- I bet they agree with me when I say the cost is much more than that," Mr Peters told Waikato University students.

NZ First supports the policy and says it has been asking for it for years.

* Dr Cullen said the New Zealand Super Fund would be asked by an incoming Labour government to invest more of its cash in New Zealand.

He also committed Labour to increasing the minimum wage from the current $12 an hour during the next term of government. But he said he couldn't go as far as committing to $15 an hour, which unions are demanding.

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