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Slippery slogans on state sector from Key

12 March 2008 Media Statement

Slippery slogans on state sector from Key

John Key’s attack on public servants is just the latest example of slippery politics from the National Party Leader, Finance Minister Michael Cullen said today.

In his speech on the state sector today, Mr Key issued intentionally misleading statistics, refused to explain how a National-led government would deliver any new programmes or explain where cuts would be made.

“Reprising a tired attack on bureaucracy is always a sign that a politician is running out of things to say,” Dr Cullen said. “But Mr Key’s attack on public servants is more than that – it is an intentionally slippery attempt to mislead the public about growth in the public sector.

“Mr Key wants to talk about growth in ‘bureaucrats’ in isolation from growth in front-line public servants. He conveniently says that he does not ‘want to focus’ on front line agencies like the police and health boards.

“In government, we do not have that luxury. We have massively increased the numbers of teachers, doctors, nurses, and police and yes, we have increased the number of public servants required to support their work. Mr Key, for example, completely failed to tell people that far more doctors and nurses are being hired than hospital managers and health bureaucrats.

“Mr Key is also pretending that the government is not doing anything new. Let me remind him that Working for Families requires 226 staff at the Ministry of Social Development. Over 500 public servants have been working very hard to implement the hugely successful KiwiSaver scheme.

“Does Mr Key intend to get rid of these staff? A government with new ideas must have public servants who can turn them into reality.

“Mr Key’s claims on wages are particularly slippery. Since 2002 private sector and core public sector wage growth have been nearly identical.

“What is potentially worse is that Mr Key’s pledge to cap public servant numbers comes at a time when he and his MPs are travelling around the country promising to increase government spending. He wants more staff at the Waitangi Tribunal, Jackie Blue wants more staff for the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, David Carter wants more research staff for rabbit control. The list goes on and on.

“Mr Key needs to be honest about what he would actually do in government and how many staff he would need to do it. In the mean time, he should stop putting down public servants and telling them to run faster down the corridor.”

ENDS

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