Election 2023 debate moments: Nicola Willis confronted with National social video of Christopher Luxon making questionable statement

National finance spokesperson Nicola Willis has been confronted with a social media video her party posted featuring Christopher Luxon making a questionable statement about its proposed tax relief. 

The video, which remained on the party's Instagram account at the time of this story's publication but has since been removed, shows Luxon speaking during a debate, saying an average household income family with young kids would get "$250 a fortnight" under the party's tax plan.

Newshub revealed this week just 3000 households would get that top level of tax relief from National, with the party defending itself by saying it has consistently caveated that statement by saying families would get "up to" $250 a fortnight.  

Luxon apologised on Friday after media clips showed him omitting the "up to" qualifier.  

"We should be using 'up to'... If I have missed that a couple of times, I apologise for that," he said.

During a finance spokesperson debate on Newshub Nation on Saturday, host Simon Shepherd showed Willis a series of clips of Luxon not using the "up to" words while talking about the proposed tax relief. 

"One of those clips is on Instagram right now. National Party Instagram.  It was chosen, highlighted, posted by the National Party, still not corrected. So, you're still doing it?" Shepherd asked. 

Willis replied: "Very happy to look into that." 

Shepherd asked if she thought Luxon's statement was misleading.

She didn't answer the question, instead going off on a tangent explaining her tax plan. She said the amount of money people would receive depended on whether they got their childcare tax rebate and their individual incomes.  

Willis then called the party's messaging a "simplification". 

"When you are explaining a tax plan that has four different components, that varies depending on people's circumstances, the age of their children, their income, you do need to simplify," she said. 

Labour finance spokesperson Grant Robertson then interjected to say National's messaging had been misleading.  

"This is not a Briscoes' sale Nicola. It is meant to be a tax policy.  

"You can't say 'up to' $250," he said. 

Willis responded: "Are you implying I am somehow a Briscoes' saleswoman? Because I think that is unfortunate Mr Robertson."  

Robertson said he was saying National's tax plan was "like a Briscoes ad" by using the "up to" caveat. 

The National finance spokesperson then raised Labour's GST policy, which is to remove GST from fresh and frozen fruit and vegetables. Labour has advertised this policy by highlighting the current price of some products and what they could be if GST was removed. 

"Will that happen under your policy? Not a single economist has agreed that will be passed on," Willis put to Robertson. 

Economists have questioned whether the full 15 percent reduction would be passed onto consumers. The Labour Government's Tax Working Group previously found removing GST from products wouldn't necessarily lead to benefits for consumers as supermarkets may just hike their prices in response. 

Robertson said the savings would be passed on "if we drive that policy hard".  

Earlier in the show, he was also presented with previous clips of himself and Labour leader Chris Hipkins questioning making changes to the GST system. Robertson has previously opposed making changes but said in August that he had had a "road to Damascus" moment about the policy. 

He denied on Saturday it was a last-minute U-turn. 

"It is a policy that the Labour Party has been working through. You were interviewing us there, we are ministers, we were reflecting the position of the Government," he said. 

"We want to make sure we reduce the cost of food. The cost of food is raised with us more often than anything else.  

"This is a small contribution that we can make." 

Robertson said the difference between when he previously opposed the policy and now is the introduction of a Grocery Commissioner to make sure the benefits are passed on and the decision to include frozen products in the policy. 

Watch the full debate above. 

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