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Bill English denies claims housing crisis ignored

Published: 8:15AM Friday May 16, 2014 Source: ONE News

The Finance Minister has been countering claims the Government has not addressed the crisis for first home buyers.

Bill English says the National-led Government is determined to keep interest rates lower for longer because "interest rates and prices interact for housing affordability".

The Minister says growing the economy is the Government's top priority because it underpins all other choices.

Yesterday's Budget shows a $372 million surplus and Mr English says the Government wants all New Zealanders to benefit from that growth.

He denies Labour's claims that the focus on achieving surplus fails to address some of New Zealand's major issues.

The Minister's sixth Budget includes free doctors' visits and prescriptions for all children under 13, extending paid parental leave from 14 weeks to 18 weeks and increasing the parental tax credit.

"Labour seem to behave as if anything to do with families or communities is somehow owned by Labour," Mr English told Breakfast this morning.

"We've made a lot of progress in improving things in communities."

Foreign influx

Mr English has also been trying to dampen down fears of a "housing time bomb" that some believe an imminent surge in the number of migrants will create.

According to Budget figures, an extra 38,000 people are expected to be living here by the end of the year.

However, Mr English claims the spike is just the resort of fewer Kiwis moving offshore.

"The challenge for New Zealand is to become more internationally connected not less," he says.

"Our small producers need someone with the Asian distribution network."

Labour Leader David Cunliffe says the domino effect created by the surge in migrants will result in Kiwis having to pay the price.

"The Reserve Bank raises interest rates on everybody so your mortgage rates is going to go up because National's lost control of migration," he says.

Mr English says the 33,000 new sections being created in the Auckland region in the next couple of years will help to ease the pressure.