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Not since Mike Moore have New Zealanders been lied to like this – Taxpayers’ Union

The release of today’s Half Year Economic and Fiscal Update confirms the worst kept secret in Wellington; the fiscal challenges ahead are much worse than the public were told about prior to the election.

From the Treasury lock-up, Executive Director of the Taxpayers’ Union, Jordan Williams, said:

“Treasury has confirmed that the last government put New Zealand on a completely unsustainable fiscal path. Grant Robertson should be ashamed, as not since his mentor Mike Moore has a government been so dishonest with the public about what was really going on. He should be issuing an apology.”

“It is very clear that tough decisions – and a brave Minister of Finance – are necessary to get the books back into shape.”

“The economic backdrop is nearly as bad, with high net migration dragging us into positive growth – but only just. On a per person basis, New Zealand still faces getting poorer in the short term.”

“Now that we know that the Pre-election Economic and Fiscal Update was in fact a fantasy land, we need to ask ourselves how our fiscal reporting model and institutions have failed taxpayers.”

“After Mike Moore lied to New Zealanders about the state of the books in 1990, the Fiscal Responsibility Act was put in place to ensure there were no post-election ‘nasty surprises’ like those which we have seen today. Like back then, it is not so much the numbers, as the laundry-list of fiscal risks that are only seeing the light of day now. Items that Treasury has disclosed today were absent from the pre-election update; that is clearly not good enough.”

“This feels a lot like 1990, which led to Ruth Richardson’s ‘mother of all budgets’ the following year. Budget 2024 is going to require Nicola Willis to be made of stern stuff.”

“While responsibility for the poor state of the books rests with Grant Robertson, Treasury too must accept some responsibility for the lack of transparency.”

“Under the last Secretary, Treasury became far more politicised and less reliable. The new Secretary is an improvement, but this dropping of the ball in not being willing to deliver unwelcome news prior to the election suggests she has a long way to go to get Treasury’s former status back.”

“We have previously called on the Government to conduct a ministerial or government inquiry into Treasury’s performance and public finance transparency. Today’s documents demonstrate the reason it is needed.”

 

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