NZ Election 2020: Gerry Brownlee hits back over National's financial plan, says criticism of Paul Goldsmith 'completely outrageous'

Gerry Brownlee has hit back at those criticising Paul Goldsmith over mistakes in National's alternative financial plan and defended his party's finance spokesperson.

"I think some of that conversation has just been completely outrageous, quite frankly," National's deputy leader told Magic Talk's Road to the Election host Mitch McCann on Sunday.

"He [Goldsmith] admitted there were different pots of money being treated in different ways, and what it comes down to is we're expected to do everything the way [Finance Minister] Grant Robertson says we should in order to get a similar balance to him."

Brownlee was referring to revelations last Sunday last Sunday National used figures from May's Budget instead of the updated Pre-Election Fiscal Update (PREFU) in calculating how much it would save from halting NZ Super Fund contributions, which resulted in a $4 billion fiscal hole. 

Robertson on Saturday called on National leader Judith Collins to "stop avoiding the questions about her finance spokesperson".

He said New Zealand "cannot afford National and their mistake-riddled budget".

But Collins dismissed the fiscal hole as "entirely inconsequential", adding the mistake "meant very little" as the calculations were spread over 10 years.

Brownlee echoed those comments on Sunday.

"Remember that these calculations are out over a 10 year period," he said.

Brownlee said the situation has been a "massive beat up".

"I think a lot of journalists have just fallen right into the spell of Grant Robertson, who frankly has not been doing a good job - had not been doing a good job prior to 2019 and I think he's struggling a bit now. The last thing he wants to talk about is stimulating the economy by temporary tax relief."

That temporary tax relief is something National is promising if elected - people earning between $60,000 and $80,000 a year would get between $2500 and $3500. Lower-income earners would get far less - $560 to $900 if you're on $50,000.    

Robertson said Goldsmith is "making mistakes about the mistakes he made in his Budget".

Grant Robertson, left, and Paul Goldsmith.
Grant Robertson, left, and Paul Goldsmith. Photo credit: Newshub.

"These errors are ruining National's credibility," Robertson said.

He said it was a "shambles".

"Judith Collins needs to sort it out. She needs to tell Paul Goldsmith to rip up his Budget and start again."

National also made a similar mistake with its capital allowance - the money put aside to build things like schools and hospitals. This left National with another shortfall of $88 million. 

And on Friday Goldsmith admitted he did not account for the loss of tax paid by the Super Fund - and despite that being worth near-on $2 billion, he insisted there's no hole.

National and economic fact-checkers the party used have given different versions of the alternative Budget, each with different figures.