Jacinda Ardern says cost of living 'top of our agenda', political experts believe another payment could be on the cards

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the cost of living is the "top of our agenda", prompting political experts to believe another cost of living payment could be on the cards. 

Ardern will deliver her keynote speech on Sunday at the Labour Party's annual conference in Auckland.

Speaking to Simon Shepherd on Newshub Nation on Saturday, the Prime Minister alluded that the Party's announcement tomorrow could involve some kind of financial relief. 

Ardern said the cost of living is top of the public and the Government's mind and they will continue to look at how they can provide support to New Zealanders. 

She also said to keep in mind the initiatives the Government has done including half-price public transport, fuel tax reduction and increasing family tax credit.

"It is the foremost issue and we've said that it is top of our agenda," Ardern said. "I anticipate that the cost of living and the economy, which we are prepared to campaign hard on because of our record, will likely be on everyone's agenda for the next 12 months."

Annual inflation is at 7.2 percent, putting a huge strain on the cost of living crisis.  

But with inflation also comes wage inflation.

The latest employment data from Stats NZ found wage inflation was up 3.7 percent in the year to September and the average ordinary time hourly earnings increased by 7.4 percent.

However, while Ardern would not commit to changing the tax thresholds, she also would not confirm whether it was completely off the cards.

"We have not formulated in our policy around tax for the election," she said.

Ardern said it comes down to a matter of timing, and tax cuts during a high inflationary period will just make the situation worse.

She said the advice the Government has been given is "time-limited" and "targeted" is the best way to provide support to Kiwis without exacerbating inflationary pressures.

However, speaking on the political panel, former National MP Agnes Loheni hit back at that, saying the Government can do more to ease the pressure. 

"Clearly, she is trying to paint inflation as this nebulous thing out there that's got nothing to do with this Government," Loheni said.

"In fact, people know that there are levers that this Government pulls that have a direct impact on the cost of living pressures we are facing now."

Former Labour candidate and political commentator Josie Pagani said Ardern was signalling that we won't get a tax cut or systemic change.

She said it seems the Government will be announcing something like the Cost of Living Payment or an increase in benefit levels.

"Which, I think, is a missed opportunity because we are seeing from polling right across the world, let alone in New Zealand, that voters want governments to chuck the kitchen sink at inflation and cost of living," Pagani said.

Newshub Political Editor Jenna Lynch agreed that another Cost of Living payment could be on the cards.

Lynch told the panel Labour will want to have turned things around before summer.

"The electorate feels quite grumpy with the Government at the moment, they don't want to head into the summer season like that," Lynch said.

The Government is going to have to start the election year with reintroducing the fuel excise tax. 

Back in March, the Government revealed it was slashing fuel excise tax by 25 cents per litre and halving the cost of public transport for an initial three-month period to help Kiwis struggling with the increasing cost of living. Then, in July, Finance Minister Grant Robertson extended the scheme until the end of January. 

"You'll go to the bach and your petrol will cost this much and you'll come back from the bach and it's going to cost you more," Pagani said.

Whatever Ardern announces on Sunday, she vows the Government aims to not make inflation worse.