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Treasury too political on privatisation

Alliance deputy leader Sandra Lee is calling for the restructuring of Treasury, saying it is far too partisan and ideological.

Her comments follow reports that Treasury has never completed a single case study on the impact of a privatisation and comments from a Treasury deputy secretary that privatisation produces 'demonstrable' gains.

"Just like its political bed-mate, the National Party, Treasury has convinced itself that privatisation is good, despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary," Sandra Lee said.

"The privatisation of Telecom, for example, has cost thousands of jobs, massively increased the cost of phones at a time when phone costs should be falling and substantially worsened New Zealand's overseas debt by sending billions of dollars in profits to overseas owners. Treasury has never acknowleged the mess it made of the Telecom sale.

"It is outrageous for a senior civil servant like the Treasury deputy secretary to make highly partisan political comments which are demonstrably untrue.

"The fact that officials think they can get away with such partisan and outrageously wrong statements illustrates how deeply imbedded far-right economic extremism has become in Government's policy-making process.

"The far right has become so arrogant that it cannot even contemplate that their crank ideas might be wrong.

"When Treasury officials campaign publicly for more privatisation less than six months before an election, what is the position of that official when a new Government is elected? That department cannot give impartial advice to a Government elected on a platform of stopping privatisation by a public that knows the policy has failed.

"A new Government should undertake a comprehensive review of all asset sales to date, which will set out clearly who advised on them, who handled the sale, who ended up owning them, how much they were paid for it, how much the process has increased overseas debt and how many jobs have been lost.

"Simultaneously, Treasury should be split up, to separate out the budget functions, the audit and assessment functions and the responsibility for promoting economic development and employment," Sandra Lee said.

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