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Nats and Labour clash over budget bill

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 25/05/2017

The bill that implements the government's family support package has passed its first reading in parliament after an intense debate.

The package was unveiled in Thursday's budget, and the government says 1.3 million families will be better off by an average $26 a week.

It changes the tax thresholds, increases Working for Families rebates and increases the Accommodation Supplement.

The package comes into effect on April 1 next year - if National wins a fourth term in September.

Labour says it's a straight out bribe and the tax threshold changes benefit higher income earners more than the low and middle income families the government says the package is aimed at.

"The wealthiest households get $30 a week and those on the lowest incomes get $5 a week," said Labour's finance spokesman Grant Robertson.

"And around 800,000 New Zealanders on taxable incomes below $14,000 get nothing - what's fair about that?"

National MPs said Labour was going to have a hard time between now and the election explaining to people why they didn't deserve a tax break.

Greens' co-leader James Shaw said the package was flawed but his party would vote for it because it gave something to families and low income people who hadn't had anything for eight years.

NZ First also supported the bill and it passed its first reading by 88 votes to 31.

Parliament earlier unanimously passed the first reading of a bill that legislates for the care worker pay settlement that was agreed in April.

The government put parliament into urgency to get the bills through.

The care worker bill has been sent to a select committee but the family package bill will go through all its stages.

It's second reading debate was interrupted when parliament was suspended at 10pm. It will sit again at 9am on Friday.

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