The Government’s obsession with working groups has at least a $114 million price tag but the real cost comes in the form of lost opportunities, Opposition Leader Simon Bridges says.

“The cost so far of less than half of the Government’s 122 working groups and reviews is over $114 million which says a lot about the Ardern-Peters Government’s priorities.

“While staffers in the Prime Minister’s office get plum roles reviewing the health system, designated mental health and Māori development funding have been cut by $100 million.

“While former Labour Ministers are being paid big bucks to run panels, children’s camps in Roxburgh are being shut down.

“And while Clare Curran sets up an advisory group to recommend the establishment of a commission to recommend distribution of public media funding, education spending promises are being broken by the millions.

“What’s worse is the Government doesn’t even know the costs of at least 45 of its reviews, with Treasury classifying the various working groups as a specific fiscal risk.

“The Government needs to shelve its reviews and get its priorities straight – the $114 million could hire 2,100 extra teachers or pay for an extra 20,000 elective surgeries. Instead, the Government is spending hundreds of millions of dollars for others to do the work for it.

“Its underwhelming Budget also shows what we’ve known for a while – Labour, NZ First and the Greens can’t figure out their priorities, weren’t ready to govern and are out of their depth.

“Whether it’s the broken promise on cheaper GP visits for all New Zealanders, the broken promise on affordable KiwiBuild housing, or the broken promise on school donations, the message is clear: New Zealanders cannot rely on Labour to deliver.

“National won’t repeat Labour’s mistakes. We’re working hard in the interests of Kiwis and we’ll be ready to implement our plans and policies if we earn the right to govern again in 2020.”

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