Labour and National trade jabs on campaign trail over business and economy

Anna Whyte
Source: 1News

Labour and National are trading jabs on the campaign trail - with Judith Collins saying the pledge to make Matariki a public holiday is "cynical" in the face of struggling business and Grant Robertson calling National's policy announcements "chaotic and inconsistent". 

While announcing a pledge to upgrade the Hawke's Bay Hospital, National's leader told media Labour was "actually pushing a lot of costs on small business". 

Collins said it was "quite telling" after National released its promise yesterday to tackle New Zealand's methamphetamine issue and Labour's response "was to tell every small business and every business owner they have to pay for another public holiday". 

"I actually think that's really cynical, and by the way that doesn't come in for some years."

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern yesterday promised to make Matariki a public holiday from 2022 to give businesses time to prepare, and said it would be "a confidence boost that many sectors need" in the face of Covid-19, such as hospitality and retail. 

Collins said the promise, on top of Government policies such as raising the minimum wage, showed a "lack of any negotiation or any help for small businesses, who have to pay rents and working with commercial landlords, all these are really tough for small businesses". 

"I think the Government has no idea about small business."

Today, Labour released its small business plan, which included regulating merchant service fees - a move Collins said she would support.

"It's a bit of a fig leaf to cover all the other costs they've landed onto small business. It's a pretty small fig leaf too."

Collins' statement was in response to a jab by Labour's Robertson, who called National's promises "chaotic and inconsistent" due to having no costings attached. 

"It’s incredible that a party that used to pride itself on its economic credentials can’t even put a price on their policies or say how they are going to pay for them," he said. 

"It’s this kind of inconsistency that means National is a risky alternative."

Collins called Robertson's comments "PR spin from a Finance Minister who doesn't understand that money needs to be borrowed and needs to be payed back".

"We are really focused on making sure that when we borrow we are not just flittering it away."

NZ First leader Winston Peters also could not resist taking aim at National today - accusing it of being “worse than reckless” for announcing so many policies prior to the Pre-election Economic and Fiscal Update [PREFU].

Peters said NZ First would release its full manifesto once party members had seen the PREFU, when it “would be seen who understands economics”.

“The first thing we got to know is the latest updated information,” Peters said.

“I know others have got all of their costing out there now. How they did that I wouldn’t know, but we want to wait until the PREFU comes out - then we know what we’re dealing with.”