Bill English still saying there's a hole in Labour's budget

  • 07/09/2017

National leader Bill English has once again stood by his finance spokesperson's claims that Labour's budget has an $11.7 billion hole - despite being debunked by economists.

The Stuff leaders debate kicked off with a bang with the argument, seeing Labour's Jacinda Ardern accuse Mr English of "maintaining a lie".

Earlier this week, National finance spokesperson Steven Joyce claimed Labour had an $11.7 billion fiscal hole.

While economists have debunked that as incorrect, Mr English, Mr Joyce and deputy leader Paula Bennett have still stuck to their guns.

When Ms Ardern pressed Mr English on the issue during the debate, she asked: "Was Steven Joyce correct?"

"Yes he was," Mr English said in return, to which Ms Ardern shook her head and questioned: "Who agrees with you?"

"If you continue to maintain that, you're maintaining a lie," Ms Ardern said, repeatedly adding: "This is a matter of trust."

As Ms Ardern continued to repeat herself, Mr English tried to explain why he thought there was a budget hole, but Ms Ardern wouldn't have it.

"We took the numbers from PREFU so if you're saying Labour's in that position, National's in that position too," she said.

"Your team have lied."

Despite economists saying there is no such hole, on Thursday Mr English said the budget doesn't account for changes outside of health and education.

"[$11.7 billion] is the best estimate... What the numbers show, and economists agree... no money outside of the health and education is unusual," Mr English said.

Watch the full debate below.