INDEPENDENT NEWS

Digitally enhanced budget rivals Lab. billboards

Published: Fri 12 Nov 1999 03:58 PM
MEDIA RELEASE
12 November 1999
Digitally enhanced budget rivals Labour's billboards
Dr Cullen's budget numbers are so digitally enhanced they rival his leader's billboards, Treasurer Bill English said today.
"Getting the real story on Labour's budget is like pulling teeth, but the extent of Dr Cullen's deception over his figures is slowly emerging.
"Yesterday the Prime Minister showed the problem with Labour's health figures. The promised $825 million extra health spending has evaporated into $325 million over three years and only an extra $5 million more in the first year. Dr Cullen's explanation is that he's been able to subtract the $175 million extra a year that National has budgeted for health.
"Who does he think he's kidding? Certainly not all the older people who were promised a big increase in the dollars spent on elective surgery.
"His second major deception was raiding the money set aside for future new initiatives, but in doing this Dr Cullen has put a noose round Labour's neck. The idea that he and Jim Anderton could put their second budget together with just $9 million in new spending is a joke. Dr Cullen can't even think of a response to this one.
"Today he has also been forced to reveal the extent to which Labour has been misrepresenting its policy on ACC.
"This policy says Labour will rebuild the scheme so it covers all impairments regardless of cause. Labour will bring into line the entitlements of those incapacitated by illness and those injured by accident. But Dr Cullen now tells us: "We have said repeatedly that we do not intend to extend ACC to cover illness?"
"Labour's ACC policy says it will introduce lump sum payments. To justify his figures Dr Cullen tells us today this will cost the taxpayer nothing because the bill will be sent to employers.
"Earlier in the year Dr Cullen rubbished suggestions that any promises other than those on Labour's credit card had to be costed. His claims at the time were regarded as credible. But after pressure from National about the 'B' list of more than 200 uncosted promises, Dr Cullen has found over $2 billion for those promises. Even now he's expecting us to rely on his guess for the cost because there's no detail.
"Dr Cullen's arrogance knows almost no bounds. He dismissed the Alliance and then the Greens, but his real mistake will prove to be his budget.
"He has spent all year trying to build his fiscal credibility, but anyone taking a serious look at this budget can see that there's been a deception. Every time he tries to explain the numbers they become more slippery.
"When will the deception end? When will Helen Clark front up and explain why Labour has embarked on a campaign of deception? From the doctored billboards, to the dishonest television commercial, to the deceitful budget, to the two stories Ms Clark herself is telling about Labour's plans to repeal the ECA, Labour is getting caught out again and again," said Mr English.
Ends

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