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Unions label budget an election bribe

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 25/05/2017 Karen Sweeney

The unions have reacted to National's ninth budget with descriptions of it ranging from a "modest carrot" for voters to a missed opportunity for equality.

Families and low to middle income earners were the clear winners when Finance Minister Steven Joyce handed down his the budget, his first, on Thursday.

Major changes included lifting the lowest tax threshold from $14,000 to $22,000 and the middle bracket from $48,000 to $52,000.

Taxpayers Union executive director Jordan Williams said the move was "obviously welcome" but was not good news for all.

"Middle and high income earners will be burdened with a higher proportion of the cost of government," he said.

He also lamented its delay until April 1, saying the budget gave a "vote for National and get a tax cut next year" message.

The Public Services Association agreed, calling it a predictable election year bribe.

But Mr Joyce has already denied suggestions that the change coming into effect until after voters go to the polls on September 23 makes it a bribe.

He says the only other date suitable for such major change was October 1 but system changes at Inland Revenue meant that was not feasible.

PSA national secretary Glenn Barclay said the budget lacked purpose beyond re-election and Kiwi families and workers deserved better.

The Council of Trade Unions also took aim against what it saw as a budget that lacks vision.

"This budget could have done so much," president Richard Wagstaff said highlighting health, housing, pay equity, poverty and restarting contributions to the new Zealand Superannuation Fund as areas he wanted to see explored further.

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