Labour is struggling to deliver on their wild campaign promises because they ignored the basic capital pressures of business-as-usual government, National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.
“The chickens have come home to roost. Despite billions of additional funding from new revenue and borrowed money, Labour is admitting they failed to budget for business-as-usual spending and are now crying poverty,” Ms Kaye says.
“Chris Hipkins says he has identified a ‘surprise’ $1.1 billion of school property projects that need funding. This is embarrassing for the Minister, because the projects are just part of business-as-usual that the Government needs to fund each and every Budget.
“Over the last three Budgets, for example, National set aside an extra $1.7 billion for school property – taking the total funding available for school infrastructure over the next four years to $4.8 billion.
“It is clear the Government is trying to cover up its negligence with a two-step spin programme. Step one: pretend existing programmes like the Canterbury schools rebuild and population growth funding are holes in the Budget that they never knew about. Step two: relabel initiatives National funded as their own.
“The reality is that investing in school property to get ahead of growth was a priority for National, and is part of the business-as-usual spend of any government.
“We were on track to deliver the 17,000 extra student places needed in Auckland by 2019, and were finalising the Auckland Education Growth Plan to strategically manage the increasing pressure on Auckland’s schooling network.
“We knew that growth was continuing and would need further funding each year.
“The funding for the Canterbury schools rebuild was always through a tranche process – that has always been clear publicly. It is laughable that Chris Hipkins failed to understand this.
“If it is really a surprise to Mr Hipkins that there is a need for continued investment in these areas, he clearly wasn’t across his portfolio. It is more likely that he is trying to find any excuse at all to cover up his failure to deliver on his extravagant promise to modernise every one of New Zealand’s 30,000 schools.
“These areas need investment every Budget and to try and dress that up as something new and unforeseen is spin at its worst,” Ms Kaye says.