(National Party media release)

The Government needs to explain to New Zealanders struggling with the cost of living crisis why they ignored Treasury’s advice to rein in its spending, National’s Finance Spokesperson Nicola Willis says.

“Newly-released Budget documents reveal that Treasury ‘strongly recommended’ the Government keep new spending below $6 billion including by ‘deprioritising’ or ‘deferring’ new initiatives.

“Labour’s addiction to spending is so out of control that Treasury’s attempt to stage an intervention fell on deaf ears.

“The Finance Minister ignored their advice.

“While he claimed to be sticking to his $6 billion operating allowance, he found a cynical work-around, simply adding the cost of living payment, climate change spending, Covid spending and other spending as separate items.

“The result was a record spend-up that by Budget Day had blown out to $9.6 billion per year, far in excess of the $6 billion Treasury begged him to stick to.

“At a time of record high inflation, such a massive spending spree comes with a cost for every New Zealander.

“Robertson also ignored Treasury’s advice not to proceed with the ill-fated cost of living payment.

“After months of burying their head in the sand and denying there was a cost of living crisis, Labour cooked up the Band Aid payment in a last-minute panic.

“Treasury warned the Government that there were ‘significant risks associated with designing this proposal at speed’, saying it ‘is not well targeted’ and ‘a poor mechanism for…a longer-term problem’.

“The officials were right: the cost of living payment has been so bungled that London expats, French backpackers and dead people have benefited from taxpayers’ cash while hundreds of thousands of low-income people have missed out.

“Labour is addicted to spending and it’s hurting New Zealanders. It’s time for the Government to take the first step and admit they have a problem.”