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Government reveals National cover-up

8 February 2000

Government reveals National cover-up

Former National Ministers Nick Smith and Bill English were aware of incorrect information contained in their Pre-election Economic and Fiscal Update (PREFU) statement last year but chose not to make the inaccuracies public.

Education Minister Trevor Mallard revealed the error during question time today, saying the Ministers’ lack of action amounted to misleading the public on the state of the Government’s books.

“A genuine mistake was made and that’s not pleasing. However, what is much worse is that when that mistake was discovered after the PREFU announcement, Ministers made the conscious decision not to inform the public. That is unethical,” Trevor Mallard said.

“The mistake, underestimating primary teachers’ salaries, meant that education spending appeared to be $32 million less than it actually was.

“Then Education Minister Nick Smith received a briefing about this on 15 November – before the election. The Treasurer at the time, Bill English, was also briefed. They chose to suppress this error because it would have taken this year’s fiscal balance from positive to negative.

“They campaigned on their integrity, openness, and financial management skills. I am surprised they decided to hide this error,” Trevor Mallard said.


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