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Monday, August 25

Nats must clarify extent of user-pays policies

The National Party needs to clarify the extent to which it would introduce user-pays policies across transport, health and education, if ever elected, Finance Minister Michael Cullen said today.

Yesterday, National frontbencher Maurice Williamson said National's agenda for New Zealand includes a number of large toll projects costing motorists $50 a week and private partnerships to build our schools and hospitals.

While tolls were suggested for roads, it was not clear how private companies would secure a profitable return from the users of public health and education services.

"Mr Williamson, who had been due to speak on radio this morning to discuss the party's transport policy, mysteriously pulled out of interviews at the last minute only to be replaced by his colleague and deputy leader, Bill English," Dr Cullen said.

"Mr English's main contribution to the discussion this morning was to assure radio listeners that the National Party Transport Spokesperson does not, in fact, know much about National's transport policy and that Mr Williamson's comments over the past 24 hours were ‘exuberant,'" Dr Cullen said.

"While National's ability to issue policies, only to have to issue corrections and clarifications of those policies within 24 hours, is a source of amusement it is also alarming that a major political party is unwilling to be clear about its real agenda.

"National's real agenda includes user-charges for public schools and hospitals, significant and high tolls for road users and an increase in government debt to overseas lenders in order to pay for its irresponsible tax policies," he said

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