NZ Election 2020: Judith Collins hits back after Grant Robertson slams National's 'chaotic and inconsistent approach to policy'

National Party leader Judith Collins has hit back at Finance Minister Grant Robertson's "PR spin" after he slammed National's "chaotic and inconsistent approach to policy", questioning a lack of costings. 

"It's incredible that a party that used to pride itself on its economic credentials can't even put a price on their policies or say how they are going to pay for them," Robertson said on Tuesday as Labour's finance spokesperson. 

"New Zealanders are rightly asking whether National are being silent about how they are going to pay for their election promises because they are going to cut services like health and education after the election in order to fund them."

It comes after National released an un-costed anti-meth policy on Monday. 

Collins described Robertson's remarks on Tuesday as "PR spin" and said the Finance Minister "doesn't understand that money that's borrowed needs to be paid back". 

National is "really focused" on making sure that what it borrows is not just "flittered away", Collins told reporters in Hawke's Bay after pledging to spend up to $500 million to renovate Hawke's Bay Hospital. 

"I think what is really irresponsible is loading a lot of extra debt and cost onto small businesses and Grant Robertson is the last person to be talking about that," Collins said.  

"What I think is really important to understand is that we cannot simply borrow our way out of a recession. What we need to do is build our way out of it. 

"This is the same Minister of Finance who signed off on those KiwiBuild projects that have turned into a complete rort."

Collins said National will put out a fully costed fiscal plan after PREFU, the Treasury's economic and fiscal update, which comes out next Wednesday. 

"I'll just remind you that that Government's failure to be able to secure our border has led us into a second lockdown and they still can't find where the virus came in."

Collins said the prospect of a Labour-Greens Government should "scare the bejesus" out of people. 

Robertson ripped into Collins for walking back National's plan to reduce net core Crown debt to 30 percent within roughly the next decade, floated by her finance spokesperson Paul Goldsmith in a speech in July.

Treasury has forecasted net core debt to reach 53.6 percent of GDP in 2024. 

Collins said last month the 30 percent debt target was "not set in stone" and described it as "aspirational", but told RNZ last week National would not necessarily be abandoning it. 

"Judith Collins has changed her mind about National's debt target multiple times already in her short time as leader," Robertson said. 

"But by their own admission National will have to make tens of billions of cuts to reach their 30 percent debt to GDP target, which she confirmed again last week."

Robertson said it's the "kind of inconsistency" that makes National a "risky" alternative to Labour being in charge. 

Robertson also questioned National's competency after Collins pledged to use the $14 billion the Government aside from its $50 billion COVID-19 recovery fund to pay for $31 billion in transport infrastructure.  

"They will increase debt by raiding the COVID Recovery Fund to pay for roads, but will make cuts to important services like health and education, and rip up rules that protect Kiwi families from living in cold and damp houses," he said.  

"National's chaos confirms it is no longer the party of John Key and Bill English. The current shambles wouldn't have been allowed under their watch."

National's ally ACT wants pay back debt by ending KiwiSaver subsidies, pausing contributions to the NZ Super Fund, returning benefits to pre-COVID-19 levels and ending Labour's winter energy payment.