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How many public servants would National cut?

8 September 2005

How many public servants would National cut?

Prime Minister Helen Clark and State Services Minister Trevor Mallard today released Labour's State Sector policy, saying that Labour stands for strong public services and will continue to expand critical services such as teaching, nursing, and policing.

"Over the past six years, Labour has been rebuilding the capacity of our public sector to deliver quality services to New Zealanders.

“There are many more teachers, doctors, call centre operators, engineers, analysts, nurses, prison and customs officers, CYFS and other social workers, web-designers, radiographers and accountants. Without them our communities would be less healthy, less educated, less safe, and have less access to the information and services to which we are all entitled.

"It's time for National to come clean and identify how many public servants would be out of jobs if Don Brash and John Key ever got to wield their axe.

"John Key - the man who never cries - would have no second thoughts about firing those who run our public services.

"National have repeatedly said they would fund tax cuts by borrowing billions of dollars and cutting billions more out of public services. But they are too scared to tell the public where those cuts would be.

"The net cost of National’s tax cuts over and above what a Labour government would spend on family tax relief is $7.2 billion. Deduct from this the $3.5 billion in extra debt they say they would take on, and they still have a further $3.7 billion to find by way of spending cuts.

"As well, our costings suggest that they have already promised to spend over than half a billion more on their own pet policies than they have allowed for in their allocation of $1.3 billion of new spending. So that money too would have to be found, either from borrowing - or from further cuts to existing services.

"There's no doubt that National would cut to the heart of our core public services like health and education. Teachers, doctors, nurses, social workers, probation officers, police officers – employees in all these areas would face the chop.”

State Services Minister Trevor Mallard said John Key's suggestion that huge savings can be made by cutting policy analysts is utter nonsense.

“National can't add up their own policies in opposition – how on earth do they propose to run the country if they are going to sack all the policy analysts who could do it for them? In any case, three quarters of the new jobs in the state sector are for frontline workers.

“National's claims that the public service had ballooned under Labour are also utter nonsense.

"The New Zealand public sector compared to the size of the economy as a whole is significantly smaller than for the rest of the OECD – there simply isn't room for massive across the board cuts.

"In 1999, central government spending was 33.3 percent of GDP. It is now 30.1 percent. In 1994 there were 40,153 people employed in the Public Service, compared to 37,865 in 2004. In 1994, there was one public servant for every 90 New Zealanders; now there’s one for every 108 New Zealanders," Trevor Mallard said.

"To suggest there has been some major blow out is complete rubbish. National can't stack up the numbers so they have been resorting to baseless generalisations and innuendo.

"Don Brash needs to take responsibility for the policy ditch that National has dug itself into and say where he would cut. He could start by reading his party's policies and working out just how severe his cuts would have to be," Trevor Mallard said.


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