The National Party has today announced plans to cut all numbers by 25 per cent.
The plan was announced by Prime Minister John Key and Social Development Minister Paula Bennett this morning, and will include a reduction of beneficiary numbers by a quarter.
“We’re committed to reducing some of the high numbers facing ordinary New Zealanders,” said Mr Key.
“Some of these numbers continue to grow, like house prices, or have remained stubbornly high, such as rates of child poverty and inequality.
“Rather than attempting a piecemeal and fragmented approach towards tackling these issues, we have decided to take immediate and decisive action to reduce all numbers.”
The plan would see all numbers immediately reduced by 25 per cent. An example is the number eight, which would become six.
But opposition parties have blasted the number reduction plan as irresponsible and punitive.
“It would be the height of fiscal irresponsibility to cut tax rates by 25% across the board,” said Labour leader David Cunliffe. “We have a much better plan.
“We plan to serve a full three year term in government, because that’s what the people of New Zealand will have voted for,” said Cunliffe. “Not two and a quarter years, as National would have it under their plan.
“Our plan is to grow the pie, so we’ll be looking to gradually increase numbers in a responsible and sustainable way. There’s no reason why the number seven can’t become seven-and-a-half, or even eight, if fiscal conditions permit.”
The Green Party has attacked National’s plan, claiming it would harm the most vulnerable people in society.
“This is slash and burn tactics by National,” said co-leader Metiria Turei. “People are already hurting, and this plan will only make things worse.”
Some economists have also questioned whether the plan will work.
“If the aim is to reduce all numbers by 25%, then the first number National will have to reduce is the number 25. So we’re already looking at a reduction of the reduction, before the plan has even been implemented,” said NZ Institute of Economic Research principal economist Shamubeel Eaqub.
But the plan has been roundly endorsed by one of National’s allies on the right. ACT Party leader Dr Jamie Whyte says the plan makes good economic sense.
“Our own figures show that if we reduced all numbers by only five per cent, then that would in turn lead to an increase in GDP growth of over twenty percent. Wait, I mean nineteen per cent. Hang on, if we reduce all numbers, then how can the GDP number go up?
“It’s all very complex, but that’s why New Zealand needs ACT as part of a strong and stable centre-right government. We’ll get to the bottom of it all.”