New Zealand cannot return to economic health with Labour levels of government waste staying in place. An economic recovery, and eventual economic strength for New Zealand, will require real change,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“Nothing shows how far New Zealand has shifted to the left under Key, English, Ardern, and Hipkins than the tax policies on offer today compared with those in Michael Cullen’s last budget. Today Labour offers no tax cuts. National’s offer amounts to minor modifications to Labour’s outrageous spending binge. By contrast, in 2008 Labour’s Michael Cullen budgeted tax cuts three times larger than National’s as a proportion of government spending.

“Labour and National have now set out their stalls on tax. Both are promising to keep going in the same direction. Labour is in it for you, whatever that means. National wants to get back on track, wherever that leads. But only ACT is promising real change.

“Since coming into office, Labour has increased spending from $80 billion to $137 billion. Even allowing for inflation and population growth, that’s a real, per person spending increase of 29 per cent. You just have to ask, who is getting 29 per cent more value from their government services?

New Zealand cannot turn around woeful productivity and gradual decline by simply baking in Labour’s wasteful spending. The economy cannot thrive when government makes up a third of it and government is doing less with more every year. Just trimming the sails won’t work when we need a whole new direction.

“We will need fresh thinking to save money. For example, in education there are now 1,500 more bureaucrats averaging nearly $100,000 salaries. No principals say they are making it easier to educate students, most say they’re making it worse. ACT would take a small group of experienced principals to redesign the Ministry of Education.

“If anyone doubts how insipid both Labour and National’s offerings are, they need only compare them with what Labour themselves offered 15 years ago. Michael Cullen’s income tax cuts in Budget 2008 were to cost of $3.8 billion after the third phase of cuts.

“Now Labour won’t cut any taxes, and National are offering $2.1 billion of tax cuts. As a proportion of forecast government spending, National’s proposed income tax cuts are 1.5 per cent, while Cullen’s were 5.1 per cent. By this measure, Cullen’s tax cuts were over three times as generous as National’s. ACT’s tax cuts, once phased in, represent 8 per cent of forecast spending.

“National is right to criticise Labour for spending over a billion dollars per week more than when they took office. Their words must be backed up by actions, but their spending cuts amount to less than 2 per cent of Labour’s spending. National saving $2 billion per year means Labour want to spend an extra $56 billion, and National want to spend an extra $54 billion. That’s why New Zealand needs ACT for real change.”

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