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Lively debate draws a range of views on 2010 budget

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

By Kate Chapman of NZPA

Wellington, May 20 NZPA - Labour leader Phil Goff says people on an average income will be $30 a week worse off under the budget's tax changes, a direct contradiction of the Government's figures.

Inflation would be 6 percent, the highest rate in a decade, he said when debate began in Parliament after Finance Minister Bill English delivered his budget this afternoon.

It was a budget of broken promises and a "tax swindle", he said.

"This is a budget, Mr English, that looks after you and your mates on your level of income," Mr Goff said.

The budget left a $300 million gap in funding to maintain current health services and would see a trade-off between additional fees or reduced quality in early childhood education, Mr Goff said.

"This budget is not just a budget of broken promises, it is a budget of lost opportunities."

Prime Minister John Key said Labour's idea of borrow and hope was "Greekonomics Labour Party style".

"Other than wanting to borrow we didn't hear one policy, or one good idea because Mr Goff doesn't have any policies.

"He doesn't know if GST is coming up or down...if GST is coming off a cooked chicken or an uncooked chicken," Mr Key said.

Mr English had delivered control of government spending and returned fairness to the tax system, Mr Key said.

It was a "great budget" which would create 170,000 jobs and economic growth at a time when there was "not a lot of money to go around".

ACT Party leader Rodney Hide said he was proud to support the budget, though his party would have preferred more "attack on wasteful (government) spending".

The only failure of the budget was the emissions trading scheme which was the "handbrake" on the economy, he said.

The Government's other support parties also backed the budget.

United Future leader and Revenue Minister Peter Dunne defended it and the need for a tax system "founded on a solid basis".

It would give people more freedom on how they spent their money, he said.

Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia said the budget was an investment in the future and laid foundations for the long-term.

Mrs Turia was particularly pleased with the investment in her Whanau Ora programme which she said was outcomes-based and allowed people to determine their own solutions, and with increases in disability funding, or which she is the minister.

But Progressive leader Jim Anderton said the budget's message to low income New Zealanders was "let them eat cake".

"You might not be able to afford to buy more food but just think of all the GST you'll be saving (the budget said to low income earners).

"John Key is no Robin Hood," Mr Anderton said.

Green Party co-leader Russel Norman said it was a budget of "triple deficits".

Fiscal, environment and social deficits were capped by a "deficit of vision for New Zealand".

The Government could have closed tax loopholes but instead chose to avoid them, Dr Norman said.

He again called for a capital gains tax.

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