Christopher Luxon denies using cost of living as political tool as Labour unleashes attack ads

Christopher Luxon denies National is using the cost of living crisis as a political tool as Labour is suggesting and says he is unsure why the party has released several social media posts attacking him instead of focusing on governing. 

"I would have thought as a Government you would be spending your time waking up each morning, coming to this place, and working out how you unblock things, like immigration settings, removing bureaucracy that is slowing things up in this economy," Luxon said.

"If they want to attack me, that's fine. I don't know why."

The Labour Party shared a number of social media posts over recent days criticising the National leader, including one that quoted Luxon as saying "The cost of living crisis - that's how we'll win this election".

"The pressure that families are feeling from global inflation is all just a political game to National," the post was captioned.

Another post - which claimed Luxon hasn't announced "a single new policy" since taking the leadership last November - was released less than an hour before a TVNZ poll on Monday night. The poll showed support for Labour continuing to fall, while National has stabilised as the most popular party.

Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson - who authorised the social media posts - on Tuesday morning told AM that Luxon saw the cost of living crisis as "some sort of political game". 

"I think it's worth highlighting that to New Zealanders and also highlighting at the same time that our response has been to step up, cut the price of public transport in half, cut the price of petrol, give people $350 cost of living payment. This is a serious issue and it seems to us Mr Luxon simply saw it as politics."

But Luxon denied that when asked by Newshub. 

"Not at all. We understand in the National Party, if you want to have a good healthcare system, you need a strong economy. If you have a strong economy, you can have a world-class education system. If you have got a strong economy, that's how you get police protecting communities. If you have got a strong economy, that's how you get to protect your environment. 

"We are all about stronger economic management, enlarging this economic engine, making sure that we can deal with things like productivity."

He said he hadn't seen Labour's advertisements, but believed the cost of living was the top issue for New Zealanders. 

"I go to two or three towns every single week in this country and it doesn't matter where you go. Everywhere, everyone is being impacted by it very seriously."

Former National leader Sir John Key told AM the attack ads show the Government is worried. 

"Chris is really right - the cost of living is the biggest issue that Kiwis face and the Government has completely failed on that front," he said. "It's a sign of worry. If you spend time talking about your opposite number you're worried about them right."

The Government was criticised in March for not moving quickly enough to address the cost of living crisis - or even acknowledge there was one

Asked if Labour's claim that National hadn't proposed any new policies under his leadership was true, Luxon listed a number of party policies, including moving the Reserve Bank to a single mandate, removing costs from businesses, pulling back the brightline test and scrapping the social insurance scheme.

It was put to Luxon that those were policies of previous National leaders and only about reversing the current Government's actions rather than introducing new policies. 

"We want to be pragmatic about getting solutions to the New Zealand people. Don't worry about us and our policy. We are going to be just fine and when we go to the election in 18 months time, you will see a complete set of policy."