National leader Christopher Luxon has backtracked on his promise to match healthcare funding to inflation if elected despite repeated assurances his party would.
Luxon previously committed to at a minimum increasing health funding to keep pace with inflation.
When asked by AM co-host Ryan Bridge last month whether he would commit to keeping health spending in pace with inflation, Luxon said "absolutely".
But his promise was thrown into question when National's finance spokesperson and Deputy Leader Nicola Willis told Q&A on Sunday it was "undecided" whether the party's health funding would match inflation.
Speaking with AM on Wednesday, Luxon repeatedly re-confirmed his promise before backflipping at the last moment.
"We are going to increase the health and education Budget each and every year that we are in Government," Luxon initially said on Wednesday.
When Bridge pushed to confirm those increases would match inflation, Luxon again said the Budget would be increased every year.
"We are going to increase health funding and education funding each and every year that we are in Government, Nicola and I are very aligned on that," he said.
When he was again asked to confirm it would keep pace with inflation as promised, Luxon said he and Willis were in agreement over spending.
"I can tell you very clearly Nicola and I are aligned on health and education funding, we are going to be increasing it each and every year but what I would just say to you is it's about the way the Government spends your money. The fact that they're putting it all into bureaucracy rather than frontline is not good enough."
When asked whether Willis' comments on Q&A were then wrong, Luxon said they were both right before suggesting some years funding wouldn't actually keep pace with inflation.
"We're both right, we're both going to make sure we increase our funding on health and education," he said.
"I can tell you for many years it will probably be ahead of inflation, some years it might be behind but over the long run we are going to be increasing health and education consistently each and every year that we are in Government. So people shouldn't be concerned about that."
National has repeatedly criticised the Government over the country's high inflation. Statistics New Zealand figures show annual inflation increased 7.3 percent in the June 2022 quarter - the largest jump in 32 years.
The Government has blamed the increase on international factors such as the Ukraine invasion, international supply chain issues and the COVID-19 pandemic.