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Treasury’s last minute decision not to bother showing up at the Epidemic Response Committee shows an arrogant Government that’s happy to dismiss scrutiny, National’s Finance spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says.

“Treasury Secretary Caralee McLiesh was due to appear at the committee today where there was meant to be scrutiny of the Government’s Budget and the forecasts underpinning Treasury’s assumptions.

“This has been organised for days. But just before 9am today we were informed that Dr McLiesh was unwell, and Deputy Secretary Bryan Chapple is on leave.

“There are 565 permanent staff at the Treasury. Despite the Clerk of the committee requesting another representative, not one person has been made available.

“It comes on top of Finance Minister Grant Robertson withdrawing from appearing at the committee last minute when he was due to appear last Wednesday.

“A number of serious market commentators have made time to appear at today’s committee – all wanting to know how the Treasury came to its forecasts, which appear highly optimistic.

“We also planned to ask the Treasury about the many large initiatives, such as the $1.1 billion allocated to possum killing and other environmental jobs, that were announced in press releases but not included in the Budget documents.

“This Budget spends more money than ten times a normal budget would allocate. It’s created $140 billion of debt, or $80,000 of debt per household. It deserves scrutiny.

“This month the Prime Minister’s office directed Ministers to “dismiss” the media. This is yet another sign of arrogance from this Government.

“It is our intention to recall Treasury to appear at the committee as soon as possible.” 

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