NZ Election 2020: Jacinda Ardern stays tight-lipped on how Labour would pay back COVID borrowing

With six weeks to go until the election, Labour is still staying coy on how it plans to pay off the country's debt, should it remain in power after September 19.

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern has repeatedly refused to answer whether her party would increase taxes to pay off the $50 billion borrowed to get the country through the COVID-19 economic crisis. On Monday, she refused to even say if she thought it was a good idea in principle, even if it wasn't Labour policy.

"Asking for my theory or opinion on it, whether it's personal or otherwise, is seeking to announce a policy before it's ready to be put out there," she told The AM Show. "You won't have to wait very long."

Ardern in the past has expressed support for tax policy her party no longer holds, such as a capital gains tax. She told The AM Show Labour takes "the issue of debt management very, very seriously", pointing to the party's record of paying down debt.

"We got debt down to under 20 percent of GDP in our first term in office - that did put us into a really good position going into COVID. We have some of the lowest debt relative to GDP in the OECD and that means we'll come back stronger as well."

Simon Power, general manager of Westpac and a former minister in the previous National-led Government, said in the short-term, the economy is looking good. 

"The New Zealand economy has opened up quickly," he told The AM Show. "We got the transmission dampened in a very quick time frame. New Zealanders have been extraordinarily resilient - they've thought about different ways to do business. Short-term, the indicators have been strong. Medium-term, there's more to think about."

The recent unemployment numbers were better than expected, thanks to the quick and effective lockdown and the wage subsidy keeping many in jobs. Most are picking the September figures will show the real impact of the economic damage, with no more extensions to the subsidy being granted from September 1.

Power said the Christmas retail rush and the full construction pipeline might keep things ticking along however, picking the real impacts will start to be felt as late as February or March.

Ardern said that's why the Government has held back $14 billion of its COVID borrowing - just in case it's needed later. If not, they'll pay it back.

National has ruled out tax increases. Leader Judith Collins said last week the only tax they'd be cutting is the Auckland regional fuel tax.