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Closing the Gaps leaves departments in a spin

Lockwood Smith National Commerce Spokesperson

Thursday 7 December 2000

Helen Clark's new spin on Closing the Gaps leaves Govt. departments in a spin

"We've had more evidence today that the Government's Closing the Gaps policy is a shambles," National Commerce spokesperson Lockwood Smith said today.

"Lengthy questioning of the Ministry of Economic Development Chief Executive during the Commerce Select Committee's review of the Ministry's financial performance has revealed embarrassing anomalies in Closing the Gaps .

"The Purchase Agreement between Jim Anderton and Chief Executive Paul Carpenter was signed just three days ago. It still shows a key goal for the government as to 'close the gaps for Maori and Pacific Islanders'. It does not mention other low income New Zealanders.

"Another key priority for the Ministry of Economic Development in the purchase agreement is 'strengthening Crown/Maori relations', and the Government's BIZ programmes come under that key priority.

"The Purchase Agreement with respect to BIZ contracts focuses almost exclusively on Maori.

"It is clear regardless of what Prime Minister Helen Clark may say, the Deputy Prime Minister has signed a purchase agreement with his department this week that includes 'closing the gaps' as a key goal and focuses almost exclusively on Maori at the exclusion of other low income New Zealanders."

Dr Smith said that during close questioning, the Ministry of Economic Development Chief Executive acknowledged that the Purchase Agreement, signed only three days ago, should perhaps be amended in light of the Prime Minister's comments.

"It's quite clear that Helen Clark's new spin on the 'closing the gaps' programme has left government departments in a spin," Dr Smith said.


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