Bill English has grilled Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern over the Government's free year of tertiary education policy during question time in Parliament today, saying it has removed tax deductions to pay for the policy and is unfair to workers.
When attacking the tertiary policy Mr English referenced a tax cut package put into place by the previous Government, which was due to come into effect in April 2018 before being quashed by the new Labour-led Government.
"Why did her Government decide that money should be taken from a teacher on a minimum wage and spent on what is now widely regarded as an ineffective policy?
"Providing the first year of tertiary education free for the overwhelming number of young people who are going to do it anyway," Mr English questioned the Prime Minister.
Ms Ardern was quick to point out the tax cuts never came into place, calling the question "a hypothetical one".
"First of all I would say we have taken nothing away from tax earners because they have not received it, what we have made a decision about is we simply did not believe it was fair for you and I to receive a tax cut when instead we can prioritise 70 per cent of families in New Zealand.
"This is including the children those teachers teach, and that is what I believe those teachers would want," she said.
Mr English then turned the question into a personal one as he referenced his own family.
"Well why does the member believe then that it is fair to remove a tax deduction to a worker on an average wage in order to pay for my children to get a free year of tertiary education?"
The Prime Minister shot back at the National leader accusing him of taking a "narrow view" by suggesting the policy would benefit his children who wouldn't necessarily need the financial assistance.
Speaker Trevor Mallard then had to interject as the House became very vocal during the heated exchange.
National's Steven Joyce also used the scrapped tax cuts to attack the Government, questioning Minister of Finance Grant Robertson over whether superannuitants would be worse off from April 2018.
Mr Joyce said superannuation payments would be reduced by $681 now the tax cut bill wasn't going to be put in place, something Mr Robertson disputed due to the proposed winter energy payment bill, details of which will be revealed tomorrow.
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