David Cunliffe has admitted he blundered in attacking John Key for being “out of touch” because he’s rich and lives in a “leafy suburb.”
Mid February, the Labour leader said, “Mr Key spent time in the money markets and has a personal fortune, which is many times our reasonably middle-range existence.”
The comment was derided by political commenttor David Farrar, who noted the Leader of the Opposition gets a salary of $268,500 a year and a superannuation subsidy of almost $30,000 so a remuneration package of around $300,000 a year. His wife, a partner at a top Auckland law firm, would earns somewhere north of $244,460.
The gaffe was all the more keenly felt because it came at the same time leadership rival Shane Jones was scoring points with middle New Zealand over his Countdown claims.
Mr Cunliffe told interviewer Patrick Gower on The Nation, "Look if I had my time again Paddy, honestly that would not be a line I would use. So fair cop, I learned from that. It was not my best line .... We [Key and myself] have both done bloody well and we both started from humble beginnings.”
The Labour leader also revealed for the first time that he "took a big pay cut" when he became an MP.
Before entering Parliament, Mr Cunliffe was a management consultant for US-based multinational The Boston Consulting Group.
Elsewhere in the interview, Mr Cunliffe refuses to guarantee the Greens’ place in Labour-led government, saying “that depends on how the voters decide.”
He with withdrew a promise by previous Labour leader David Shearer that Greens will get a share of Cabinet seats proportionate to their vote.
"We’re different roosters, I’m not doing it that way," said Mr Cunliffe. He refused to discuss coalition options further.
M Cunliffe said Labour will look to buy back partially sold power companies “as soon as affordable .... We’ll look for some open market opportunities [to buy back assets] as they come and we will look to strengthen the crown’s net asset backing.”
He did not accept raising the age of Super to 67 wa a dead policy, despite bottom-line opposition from potential coalition partner New Zealand First.
RAW DATA: Transcript of Patrick Gower's interview with David Cunliffe (PDF)