Bill English has just made a ministerial statement about the report which concluded the $1.5 billion hole in the ACC accounts should have been disclosed before the election.
The responses were illuminating:
Labour accepted no responsiblity and criticised National.
Russel Norman used it as an excuse to argue against privatising ACC and also said that a fixed election date would make it easier to comply with the Public Finance Act. I favour a fixed date but am not sure that it would make a difference to ministers who weren’t inclined to full disclosure.
Tariana Turia listed some of Labour’s other breaches of trust including illgal spending of public money on their election campaign then changing the law to retrospectively validate it.
Roger Douglas attacked Michael Cullen and Helen Clark for failing to abide by disclosure requirements.
Peter Dunne said the important point was how to ensure ACC was funded properly.
In his response Bill agreed with Dunne. He then laid the blame at Cullen’s feet and said that everytime Labour criticises National in the next three years for not funding something, he will be able to say if they had disclosed the problem and done something to solve it there would be $1.5 billion more in the public purse.
Cullen was wrong when he said, “We’ve spent the lot.” He should have said, “We’ve spent more than the lot.”
UPDATE: Rob Hosking is scathing:
New Zealand has that pre-election economic and fiscal update for good reasons. Too many governments have lied.
The Treasury is the guardian of the public purse and is also supposed to be ministers’ consciences on these matters. It failed.
At least, though, it has admitted it was at fault. Secretary of the Treasury John Whitehead today issued what amounts to a mea culpa on behalf of his department.
Former Labour ministers have failed to admit any fault: instead raising the privatisation bogey.
Which is balderdash. . .
The NBR explains the consequences for breaching the Public Finance Act.