Is it “a dog of a package” or a cautious, responsible programme to help New Zealand through difficult times?

Prime Minister Helen Clark and National’s leader John Key couldn’t be further apart if they tried.

“He’s wrecked KiwiSaver, he’s wrecked the innovative companies who want to do research and development,” Clark said on TV One’s CloseUp programme on Wednesday night when National’s economic and tax cuts package was under discussion.

“They over-promised, they’ve under-delivered — and funded it by wrecking peoples’ savings accounts and wrecking our chances of building a smart economy.”

Clark said there was nothing in it for a family earning $44,000 or less, and virtually nothing for low and modest income earners without children.

Key said National was ensuring all workers would get a tax cut when they needed it.

“One in five workers are in KiwiSaver, they can put their tax cut straight back into their savings account if they want,” he said.

“Four out of five aren’t, and we’re trying to make sure they’ve got some money up front.”

Key said workers on the average wage would get $47 a week and the cuts were funded in a very responsible way.

“Our deficits will be lower than Labour’s and we’re not borrowing.”

Key said research and tax credits for companies were “nice” but couldn’t be afforded.

And on the question of who was the most capable leader in difficult economic times:

Key: “We could probably make the case that I’ve got more financial experience than any prime minister New Zealand has ever had.”

“I come with 20 years international experience, we put this package together ourselves without any of the help the Government has.”

Clark: “He’s got 20 years experience with the kind of companies which got the US economy into a tonne of trouble.

“I’m putting myself forward as a credible leader of international standing who has led New Zealand through good years and difficult years and done a good job. I believe I can be trusted with our country’s future.”