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Key slams Labour housing plan - 'their gig's up'

Published: 9:56AM Monday January 28, 2013 Source: ONE News

Prime Minister John Key has slammed his opponent's state of the nation speech, claiming the only new detail was an admission Labour's housing policy was flawed.

Job creation was the other big issue in Labour leader David Shearer's address at a rugby club in Wainuiomata yesterday.

He said there will be a housing conference this year to thrash out details on its Kiwibuild plan to create 10,000 new affordable homes a year.

The party announced the scheme in November, which would see the construction of a range of houses from one to five bedroom homes, at a range of prices, with $300,000 as the median house price.

"What was the only thing that came out of David Shearer's speech?" Key said on TV ONE's Breakfast this morning. "The answer was: 'by the way we can't do that' - their gig's up."

Key said Labour has had to revise its median price figure to $550,000, which is in line with what the National party had been saying all along.

"If you want to resolve that issue (housing), interest rates have to stay low, we have to speed up the supply of land, and we have to streamline the building industry," Key said.

However, Shearer repeated his accusation that Key's Government has been sitting back and leaving big issues to be solved by market forces.

"These old market-led policies are of the past," he told Breakfast.

"Look at Obama's speeches, look at the other leaders around the world, they're being an active, hands on Government that gets behind its people. That's what I want to do when I'm Prime Minister."

Shearer said he welcomed the Government's announcement that it would be encouraging more young people to take up apprenticeships, but the move was late.

Key used his own state of the nation address last week to announce the new scheme which aims to boost the number of apprentices by offering financial incentives.

"It's playing catch up rather than being ahead of the curve," Shearer said. "And this is what I mean about a Government that's hands on and doesn't sit back and leave it to the market."

He said the Government knew two years ago it would need new apprentices to help with the Christchurch rebuild.

"The market will not produce the apprentices in time for us, we actually have to be more active than that."

Shearer said Labour would go one step further than the Government and pay employers the job-seekers' dole if they take them on as apprentices.

"That's cost neutral, it's a really good idea and I would love the Government to pick it up. I have no problems with the Government taking our policies if it's for the good of New Zealand."

Key rejected the accusation the Government was "hands off", "I don't make any apology for saying as a country we need to get out of debt, as we are, and get back to surplus, as we are," he said.

The Prime Minister said it had taken several years for the Government to fix the apprenticeship scheme which he claimed was left in a sorry state by the previous Labour leadership.

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