Thursday, 31 January 2008

NZ Election will come down to personalities

This year's General Election in New Zealand is likely to come down to a battle of personalities, rather than any substantial policy differences between the two largest parties (leaving the minor parties free to bargain for policy wins after the election).

National leader John Key has revealed plans to adopt yet another Labour-lite policy, announcing the party's support for the retention of interest-free student loans.

National strongly criticised Labour's last minute 2005 election bribe, labelling it irresponsible. Key says having lost the election, National's had to take another look at its stance, and says it's "unfair to play "ping-pong" with interest rates from election to election".

Key says they've made the u-turn because half a million New Zealanders now have student loans, and "many have made long-term financial decisions on the basis of the current policy".

However, National is offering people an incentive to pay off their loans faster. The Government would essentially offer a 10% bonus write-off for any voluntary lump-sum payments over $500.

National is still considering its long-term stance on the anti-smacking debate. John Key helped the controversial bill become law, after agreeing to a minor compromise with Green party author Sue Bradford.
However, the party's position is said to be wavering, following a 280,000-strong petition against the law, and the fact that a couple of parents have already found themselves in court over very minor cases of disciplining their children in public.

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