Election 2023: Labour's Chris Hipkins says Willie Jackson made incorrect claim about National, ACT 'in heat of moment'

Labour leader Chris Hipkins says Willie Jackson's claim that National and ACT would abolish the minimum wage was made in the "heat of the moment".

Jackson is a "very passionate person", Hipkins said, and he eventually corrected the statement that he made during the Taxpayers' Union debate on Tuesday night.

Speaking about Labour's actions to tackle the cost of living in contrast to the ideas being proposed by National and ACT, Jackson initially said the parties would abolish the minimum wage.

After that was called out by fellow panellist National's Paul Goldsmith, Jackson said the parties would "lower the minimum wage". 

But both Goldsmith and ACT leader David Seymour told Newshub after the debate that they didn't have such plans, though ACT wants a moratorium on any future increases.

Newshub queried Jackson about the claim and he said he had meant to say National and ACT wouldn't raise the minimum wage

"I think when you are on stage, sometimes a little bit out of context, that's what I actually meant, that minimum wage won't move with them," he said.

Asked about Jackson's claim that the opposition parties would get rid of the minimum wage, Hipkins said his Labour MP had "in the heat of the moment, chose a form of words that was incorrect". 

"He corrected it at the time... He admitted that was wrong. It was a heat of the moment debate and he said something wasn't true and he openly acknowledged that he had said something that wasn't true."

Election 2023: Labour's Chris Hipkins says Willie Jackson made incorrect claim about National, ACT 'in heat of moment'

When it was put to Hipkins that Jackson's initial correction was just to make another claim that National and ACT would "lower the minimum wage", the Labour leader said, in real terms, not increasing the minimum wage was "effectively a lowering of the minimum wage".

Hipkins said, "everybody knows Willie is a very passionate person".

"Where he makes a mistake, I know he will own up to that… They are not words that I would choose. The fact is, he admitted he had made a mistake."

Jackson only clarified that he had meant to say National and ACT wouldn't increase the minimum wage when Newshub asked him about his claim.

The minimum wage is currently $22.70. Since Labour came to office, it has increased progressively from $15.75. During the last National Government's tenure, it rose from $12.

Seymour said there needed to be a moratorium on minimum wage increases as it had recently been "rising very fast". 

"That has put real pressure on businesses. We actually need an economic recovery," he said. "We would keep it where it is for a couple of years, reflecting the fact it has risen so fast lately. We wouldn't put it down."

Goldsmith said National has historically increased it "steadily" in a way "businesses can afford it".

"Willie just makes stuff up. There has been a lot of disinformation from Labour in the last few days."

Asked if National would increase the minimum wage or hold it, Goldsmith said: "Every year you take a judgement."

It comes after Labour was criticised for claiming on social media that a National-ACT Government could reintroduce interest to student loans, despite that being neither party's policy. 

Hipkins on Tuesday said that was a "human error" and the post has been edited to remove the claim.