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The Government's Top 25 Blunders For 2001

14 January 2001

*District Health Boards are projected to have a combined deficit of $241 million for the current financial year.

*Projected student debt has increased by 40%. Total debt will now reach $20 billion by 2020.

*Cancer radiation waiting lists have increased dramatically. Some patients are being flown to Australia, while others are waiting up to five months for treatment, instead of the four weeks recommended by clinical guidelines.

*The Government is borrowing $2 billion for it's Super Fund, but it is investing most of it in overseas stock markets.

*Government dithering over Air NZ lead to its collapse, and a $1 billion bailout paid for by taxpayers.

*Helen Clark blundered by telling shareholders to hold onto their Air NZ shares; she caused trading to stop, and drove the price up.

*Violent crime reached its highest level in history - an 8.6% increase for the year to June 2001.

*Tariana Turia tried to use her Ministerial influence to get prisoners she knew special privileges.

*Alcohol is now banned in public places, thanks to a drafting mistake. Labour realised the mistake at the last minute but passed it anyway.

*Helen Clark claims we live in an "incredibly benign strategic environment", even after September 11.

*The Government scrapped the Skyhawks despite strong public disapproval.

*The armed forces became embroiled in a range of serious scandals, all of which were initially denied or downplayed by the Minister who was eventually forced to set up a number of inquiries.

*The Government allowed the cost of the LAV III project to blow out from $212m to over $700m.

*The Government dragged its feet over supporting the US after September 11, only pledging military support after opinion polling. Even then the Greens and Alliance rebelled.

*Te Puni Kokiri admitted it has no system for measuring the Closing the Gaps project, a $362 million project.

*Waiting lists for state houses increased dramatically - as predicted - after income related rents were brought in.

*Sexist and inappropriate behaviour was revealed from Steve Maharey and Mark Prebble during Christine Rankin's employment court case.

*Cabinet decided not to extend the Community Services Card to 48,000 working people, making beneficiaries on the same income better off.

*Margaret Wilson appointed her friend Susan Bathgate to the Employment Relations Authority, despite her already holding two other jobs. Wilson then tried to deny any wrongdoing, and suppressed a damaging report by John Upton QC.

*The Government unsuccessfully tried to introduce the Electoral Amendment (Gag the media) Bill, which could have meant jail terms for journalists.

*The renationalization of ACC saw massive fee hikes this year, with the self-employed facing a 40% increase.

*Conservation Minister Sandra Lee refused to allow the Whitianga waterways project to proceed, despite overwhelming local support and years spent gaining approval.

*TVNZ's charter has scared away advertisers and contributed towards halving the value of TVNZ, once our most valuable SOE.

*Helen Clark was forced to pay John Yelash $55,000 of taxpayer money for defaming him. The Government then tried to keep the payment confidential.

*Phillida Bunkle and Marian Hobbs were forced to resign as Ministers after it emerged they were receiving out of town allowances, despite both living in Wellington.

Ends

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