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Incompetent Labour Ministers spending blindly

Bill English National Finance Spokesman

23 August 2001

Incompetent Labour Ministers spending blindly

Reports today on a Treasury review of Budget spending by the Labour Alliance Government indicate Cabinet Ministers are groping blindly in the dark when it comes to prioritising their spending, National's Finance spokesman Bill English said today.

"The review was designed to ensure money was being spent effectively, but it clearly showed the Government is spending in an unguided, ill-disciplined manner," Bill English said.

"Reports by NZPA say the Treasury report said there was little information on the quality of education spending in last years' Budget, and in some cases it was impossible to assess the effectiveness of that spending. Health spending by Labour could not be clearly linked to improved health outcomes, while information on Maori health spending was described as 'patchy'.

"Low quality spending, with no way of identifying whether it has produced positive outcomes, is a hallmark of this Government, and these reports prove it. The amount which can be spent on social services is finite, and a responsible Government should be ensuring there are ways to measure whether expenditure is effective.

"Labour Ministers are apparently deciding their spending projects on a whim, keeping their fingers crossed that something worthwhile will occur.

"What makes these reports doubly damning is the fact Ministers were reluctant to co-operate, Annette King attempting to fence off some health spending so it could not be scrutinised, while the Ministers of Police, Corrections, and Courts were reportedly 'not encouraging' about the exercise.

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"Prior to the election Helen Clark pledged 'If we elect Labour to Government... then my commitment is that we will deliver a government people can trust. It will be open. It will be accountable.'

"This attempt to shield significant Government spending from scrutiny makes a mockery of that. Labour's 'Closing the Gaps' policy collapsed because there was no way to measure its outcomes. It is now clear that other significant areas of Government spending are being undertaken in an equally blind manner - with no way to measure their effectiveness in delivering improved outcomes for New Zealanders," Bill English said.

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