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Labour Shelves Policies In Wake Of Crisis

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Labour has ditched plans to extend paid parental leave, fund new primary health care initiatives and set a higher minimum wage target in the wake of the world financial crisis, leader Helen Clark revealed today.

Miss Clark has said Labour will not announce any more big spending policies in the election campaign except for those linked to a planned economic package to stimulate the economy through the global downturn.

Today she listed the policies that Labour had decided were unaffordable.

They included extending the paid parental leave scheme, funding for new primary healthcare initiatives and a higher minimum wage target.

Last week Labour announced it would link the minimum wage to movements in inflation or the average wage, despite calls from unions for it to rise from $12 to $15 an hour over the next three years.

"We have judged it not prudent at this present time to make those sorts of commitments. Our total focus now must be on an economic stimulus package and what will contribute to growth picking up again in New Zealand," Miss Clark said.

However she indicated the details of the economic rescue package might not be revealed before the election.

Labour has said it will put together a mini-budget before Christmas to respond to the world crisis, but critics have said it should let voters know its plans before the election.

Miss Clark said Labour would detail the areas of spending it wanted to bring forward but the full range of detailed options might not be available until the incoming government received briefings from officials after the election.

Meanwhile National leader John Key said today his party had dropped plans for a 33 percent rebate on health insurance for the elderly. The policy was present in a leaked version of its health policy last month, but absent in the final version last week.

However he would not rule out more spending promises before the election.

He told Radio New Zealand that National had made hard choices when it reduced KiwiSaver, cut the research and development tax credit and extra spending which was to go to the Foreign Affairs Ministry.

"We have some room to move now, it's very limited."

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