Scathing takes on 'debt train' Budget

19:56, May 16 2013

The Government calls it "building momentum" but for the Opposition it was a "blackjack" Budget and an "out-of-control debt train" wreck.

Parties were quick to attack Finance Minister Bill English's package yesterday.

Labour Party leader David Shearer branded it the "blackjack" Budget that "stacks the deck" against working Kiwis.

National had ramped up promises to tackle housing affordability and child poverty but had not delivered, he said.

"All they're doing is repeating their hollow promise to get tough on councils over resource consents," he said.

He scoffed at the idea of building momentum.

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"They've had five deficits in a row and now they're predicting they'll just squeak into surplus in 2014/15," he said.

"And they'll only get there by overcharging for ACC and taxes on petrol. Unemployment will stay above 5 per cent. Growth will sit on an average of just 2.5 per cent a year for the next five years."

Green Party co-leader Russel Norman pointed to the country's overseas net debt topping $200 billion by 2017 and the current account deficit topping $17b a year. "This is a debt timebomb that a return to government surplus alone will not address."

A new housing policy was "too little, too late" and served the interests of property investors, not first-home buyers.

NZ First leader Winston Peters threatened to call in the Serious Fraud Office. "Never in the history of this country has a government so blatantly cooked the books," he said.

Mr Peters brought a hamster wheel to Parliament, calling it "the mouse on a treadmill Budget". The Government was on track to surplus because of the asset sales programme and "by not spending last year's Budget money on key items like health and education and overseas aid, as well as deliberately delaying Treaty settlements promised in last year's expenditure", he said.

ACT leader John Banks said the Budget "maintains a steady course but does not do nearly enough".

A Maori Party statement called it a "solid Budget for whanau".

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