The Government is placing unreasonable restrictions on the Opposition’s ability to analyse Budget documents on Budget Day, National’s Finance spokesperson Amy Adams says.
“Having previously been assured the process would be the same as in years past, National has today been told it will only be allowed eight people at the 1pm Budget Day lock-up where Opposition parties are able to briefly view the documents in a transmission-free room before they are released at 2pm and then debated in Parliament.
“While media and other parties are given three and a half hours to examine the Government’s accounts before they are released, National is only allowed 60 minutes. Because of this we need a wide range of subject matter experts to review their areas.
“Last year we had 16 of our team present and to have this arbitrarily halved this year is unreasonable and petty, particularly when we are told this year’s Budget will look very different to previous years.
“The justification being given is because of seating constraints. However, it is the same room as last year and the Government has the ability to ask for a different room if space is an issue.
“This might seem like a small point, but it takes a large team to properly analyse the hundreds of pages of complex Budget documents in just one hour. No such restrictions were placed on National last year, and we never curtailed Labour’s ability to analyse the Budget in such a way during our previous time in Government.
“If we want a fully-functioning democracy in this country then the Opposition must be afforded a proper opportunity to read the Budget before is debated in the House, so the Government can be properly held to account.
“I’m concerned this Government is changing the rules in a way that appears petty and vindictive. If it was truly committed to be being open and transparent then it wouldn’t be making it so difficult to look over its books.”