Key lands hit on Cunliffe over capital gains tax

John Key landed a blow on David Cunliffe over Labour's planned capital gains tax in a fiery leaders debate in Christchurch.

ONE News political reporters say The Press leaders debate seemed pretty even until the National leader turned to his Labour counterpart and asked: "Will I pay a capital gains tax if my family home is in a trust?"

After being challenged again with the question, Mr Cunliffe responded that Labour will run surpluses every year "as long as there is no international downgrade".

He said Labour will "pay down the record debt this government has built up - more than New Zealand borrowed during World War Two".

Mr Key said the answer to his question is that you will pay capital gains tax on the family home if it's in a trust because you are not the owner-occupier.

"And this is going to be interesting news to New Zealanders because there are 300,000 New Zealanders who have their family, their home, in their family trust," he said.

Reminder of 2011

The exchange was a reminder of the same debate in Christchurch three years ago when then Labour leader Phil Goff struggled to answer Mr Key's challenge "show me the money".

Tonight Mr Cunliffe was left to argue his policies about closing the gap between rich and poor.

"I think Kiwis want the person next to them to do well too. Kiwis don't want to grow up in a country with ghettos and gated communities," he said.

Mr Key's talk of his own tough upbringing and living in a state house didn't resonate with the audience.

Tonight's meeting started with a moment's silence for the two Work and Income staff who died in yesterday's shooting in Ashburton, though there was some heckling during the silence.

The leaders went on to debate child poverty, spending, housing, state housing and tax.

Dirty politics of course couldn't be kept out of the debate, with Mr Key for the first time publicly condemning Cameron Slater, the Whaleoil blogger at the centre of the saga.

Mr Key was asked by the debate's moderator: "Do you condemn what he and other bloggers appear to have done and was it acceptable? Will you be speaking with Cameron Slater again?

Mr Key replied: "Well with the SFO, yes I condemn that."

Mr Cunliffe's fightback though really came on the Christchurch rebuild.

"John, you can play the school yard larrikin all you like. But this is Christchurch and real Canterbury families are still suffering. And I will not make light of their plight," he told Mr Key.

But ONE News deputy political editor Michael Parkin says it's the issue of a capital gains tax that may have stolen the show in Christchurch.

John Key and David Cunliffe in The Press leaders debate in Christchurch

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