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Labour plays dangerous game with public info

Katherine Rich MP National Party Social Services Spokeswoman

06 June 2004

Labour plays dangerous game with public information

"Labour's Ministers are either becoming increasingly lazy or, worse, they're deliberately subverting the flow of public information," says National Party Social Services spokeswoman Katherine Rich.

"The Labour Government is so afraid of bad publicity that it has stopped providing the Opposition with meaningful answers to legitimate questions."

Mrs Rich is angry that too many straightforward written Parliamentary questions are being sidelined and the public is being denied information that they're rightly entitled to.

She is referring to written questions recently asked of Steve Maharey and Rick Barker in relation to their Social Development portfolios.

"It's simply unacceptable for the Minister and his Associate to claim that neither they nor the department have time to answer the questions right now.

"I am getting the impression that I could ask the Ministers what day is it today and I'd still get the same response.

"One can only assume that these Ministers are trying to keep difficult issues out of the news until a time that better suits them.

"What is Labour hiding? Why is the department not coping?

"Rick Barker has provided me with the same answer to a dozen simple questions about beneficiaries' entitlements to special grants for whiteware.

"On each count, Mr Barker says 'MSD officials have advised me that it has not been possible to obtain the information required'.

"How hard is it to find this information, Mr Barker? New Zealand needs a government that remains vigilant when it is spending taxpayer money.

"We deserve an explanation about why these records aren't readily available and we need people in charge who are prepared to take some responsibility for their ministries," says Mrs Rich.


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