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Is The Closing The Gaps Policy Legal?

Sunday 26th Nov 2000

ACT leader Hon Richard Prebble has questioned whether the coalition’s closing the gaps policy meets the requirements of the Public Finance Act.

“No taxpayer money can be spent without parliamentary approval. In the budget parliament was told that closing the gaps was to benefit Maori and Pacific Islanders hence the $12 million to Te Puni Kokiri to monitor the programme.

At a Select Committee on Thursday, Dr Cullen was quite frank in stating that there had been a shift in the closing the gaps programme. In response to a supplementary question Prime Minster Helen Clark answered that officials were advised in early October that the gaps programme should be focused on all disadvantaged New Zealanders.

“A policy change of this sort must be approved by parliament or parliament’s watch dog the Auditor General.

“ACT believes that the closing the gaps programme is in disarray. Some government departments are following one policy while others seem to be following an entirely different one. There is no agreement by Ministers.

“As the coalition has pledged $914 towards closing the gaps this is a very important question. New Zealanders are entitled to know:

* What is the policy? * What are the targets? * What exactly are the Cabinet directives to departments? * If no directions have been given does expenditure meet the legal requirements of the Public Finance Act?

“ACT believes the government’s lack of direction means the money is just being wasted,” said Hon Richard Prebble.

ENDS


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