The Opposition leader hits back at claims the previous Govt critically underfunded key areas of public service, accusing the PM of playing politics and spinning the issue

The Opposition leader hits back at claims the previous Govt critically underfunded key areas of public service, accusing the PM of playing politics and spinning the issue

Opposition leader Simon Bridges says claims by the Government that National neglected key areas of public service while in Government is “pure, manufactured spin.”

On Monday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern revealed next month’s Budget will be a “rebuilding budget,” calling out the previous National-led Government for neglecting public services such as health and education.

Ardern dampened expectations around what to expect on May 17, saying the Government has had to “reprioritise” some of its spending so it can fix the issues left by the last Government.

But Bridges says if there is an issue, it’s “a problem entirely of their own making.”

“This is pure spin from a Government that has overpromised significantly in Opposition and now is going to underdeliver.”

Bridges says the National-led Government left behind strong books, a strong economy and “very resilient public services.”

He takes aim at the Government’s already flagged $2.8 billion on its fees-free tertiary education policy and well as the $1 billion a year Provincial Growth Fund as areas where the Government is spending too much money.

“If this is a real crisis, which it isn’t, then they should be changing their [spending] priorities.”

Ardern used the issues at Middlemore Hospital, where mould had been discovered on walls and in ceilings, as an example of the issues facing the entire healthcare system.

But Bridges says talks of a “crisis” in the health sector, are overblown.

He says the issues which have come to light are in the vicinity of tens of millions – “that is a slither in a $17 billion health budget in a health system that overall is strong and resilient.”

He says he has been to public hospitals roughly 20 times within the last year and it is a “first-class health system that is strong and resilient and New Zealanders know this.”

The Government has two options come Budget day, he says: let down the teachers and nurses they promised so much, or tax, borrow and spends a lot more money.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson says the Government will be sticking to its budget responsibility rules – keeping Crown spending at roughly 30% of GDP and reducing public debt to 20% of GDP by 2021/2022.

Drip feeding more information

Speaking to media this morning, Ardern said the Government will be releasing more information on the scale of the problems it’s facing in the coming weeks.  

Both Ardern and Robertson have outlined the health sector requires an additional $10 billion in Crown funding over the next decade.

But the Prime Minister was not giving any specifics on what that figure might look like when it comes to education funding.

“The Minister of Education is going to spend a bit more time detailing some of the things that we anticipated with a bit more specificity.”

She said on Monday the Government would be revealing more information relating to the scale of the funding shortfall in the lead up to the Budget.

Bridges says she is simply playing politics.

“We have a Prime Minister who says she would be better than playing politics but is now looking to drip feed examples.”

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

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Of course its spin ....... they must think we are all stupid not to see it for what it is


The administrators of Middlemore Hospital should be dismissed for dereliction of duty if it is found that they did not report the Hospital leaky - building issues to the Ministry.

Heads must roll in the DHB and senior managers ..........OUT !

Some of these people earn $200k per annum

What were we paying them to do ?

Dr Coleman..."I did not know about about leaky mouldy hospitals, ...hang up"


Are you saying that he did know about them? Given he's clearly stated for the record that he didn't then you'd be effectively calling him a liar, here in writing i.e. libel. Or are you just trying to add to the COL spin?

Which is worse - dishonesty or just not being across one's job?

The Counties Manukau District Health Board acting chief executive Gloria Johnson told RNZ that the board hadn't asked the previous Government for funding to fix its beleaguered buildings because of pressure from the Government to stay in surplus...

The former chairwoman of the Counties Manukau DHB, Lee Mathias, told RNZ that the problems at Middlemore had been widely known for years. "The mental health [building – that had to be demolished because of severe leakage problems] ... that had to be signed off by the minister, so I think most people in Wellington knew of the situation that Middlemore was in." Yet former Health Minister Jonathan Coleman denied knowing about it. "I'm aware over time that they need injections of capital to continue to develop the site but I was not notified that there was any sort of problem along these lines," he told RNZ.

For someone in the position of Health Minister, I'm not sure what is worse; being "aware over time that [DHBs] need injections of capital" and not appropriately providing for them, or not knowing that there is sewage seeping into the walls of one of the country's biggest hospitals. If Coleman truly didn't know what was happening at Middlemore, what kind of ministry was he running?

In February 2017, Treasury published a report into the financial performance of the health system. In it, it referenced a 2016 report by the Office of the Auditor General that raised concerns that "many DHBs do not sufficiently monitor their asset condition, age, and performance… [and] there has been a significant pattern of under-budget capital spending indicating that DHBs might not be investing the capital needed to deliver their services in the future." One would've thought that the Health Minister at the time would've read the report and done something about the serious problems it raised…

Top post.

Gloria Johnson interview was a jaw dropper indeed. Very credible admissions and picture of things by her I thought at the time.

Get over yourself ex lies lies and more lies. He was the Minister of Health..are you backing Dr Doom up?

because of pressure from the Government to stay in surplus...

typical conservatard bully tactics to remain relevant in a world of change

Oh Exie,! And all the special tuition I've been giving you....!? Hmmmm...

Ex pat(sy),

If you believe him,then you also presumably still believe in the tooth fairy and S. Claus.

Please send me your bank account details,I have an excellent financial scheme to offer you.

This is the fingers in the ears and yelling nananananana tactic, so that you can indeed say, you haven't been informed. People like Coleman make it very clear they do not want to know this stuff so they can leave with a clear conscience.

The installation of gatekeepers to discourage/block the upward flow of undesirable information to ministers during the previous government’s tenure was something I discussed with a retired senior analyst only last weekend. Coleman’s name was mentioned as one of the principle offenders. (Edited)

A country that is not operated based on meritocracy will have a doomed fate.


I don't think any of the parties are winning there. National transfer wealth to landlords and landbankers who do nothing but sit on land most often obtained by being born into the right decade or a wealthy family. Labour give tax money to perpetual students and large dysfunctional families. Both are know for letting in tens of thousands of "Chefs" and "retail managers", and enabling the corporations such as Fletchers, Foodstuffs to rip off kiwis.

I also see every council rewarding incompetent or corrupt people and wasting money on white elephants.

NZ is about as far away from a meritocracy as you can get. And none of the political heads are willing to change this.

Therefore, New Zealand Meritocracy Party is needed.


..and worst of all NZ is not winning

So China is doomed?

You certainly do not know China if you think China is not operated based on meritocracy.


China is a communist dictatorship that rewards cronies and purges rivals. T

That used to be the case, but it is transitioning to totalitarian cronyism - which is a more stable (and worse) form of govt.


That would presumably include China.


A billion a year being spent on Shane Jones' jollies and mates. A shortfall of a Billion a year needed for health infrastructure. If only there was AN OBVIOUS SOLUTION to this problem.

With this crew I'm picking Recession in 2019. Other predictions?

No, well put , nothing else is showing on the radar as the CoL is in damage control mode trying to find a towel to wipe what has hit them in the face ...

“The Minister of Education is going to spend a bit more time detailing some of the things that we anticipated with a bit more specificity.” ... jesus! moe time, why ..? was he asleep? or just digging shite on the Aussies when in ooposition?

Again, this sums it all:

the looks on Robertson's face is priceless !!

All getting a bit embarrassing. "In a blog post this afternoon Dr Coleman said he had been reviewing a couple of "very pertinent" documents.

"It's just not credible to say that Middlemore Building problems were widely known about and I would have known," he wrote.

This claim that was made in late March to Morning Report by former Counties Manukau District Health Board chair Lee Mathias.

"Most people in Wellington knew of the situation Middlemore was in," she said then.

She also said the state of the buildings was covered in board minutes that were publicly available. However, the DHB has blocked the release of these minutes to RNZ under the Official Information Act."


See the talking points posted above, though. It's all someone else's fault, never that of the folk who were in charge.

But back in the land of reality, how many governments would come into power, having been assured by the previous government that things are being run well and that services have been invested in properly and a healthy surplus has been achieved, only to find hospitals coping with asbestos, mould and sewage in the walls, for example?

And then to find out that ministry management had felt under immense pressure not to request money to address such issues because a surplus was more important, and conditions came second.

And now people are just blindly insisting it's all "fake news!"

Just makes you shake your head in wonder...such blind loyalty.

Blind loyalty is what blocked the minutes from public scrutiny. Most Transparent Government Evah! They can't even do a decent job of making a political hit.

Seems to be a systemic failure of a grand scale that was set up to fail. For heavens sake, there has to be reporting lines covering bricks and mortar in each and every going concern, whether or not a government facility. For example banks have premises departments to monitor the status, nature and worth of buildings that they might own as branches or whatever. If the Minister and/or Ministry of Health is saying that they do not have an effective system in place to monitor prime public assets like hospital buildings then they are either incompetent or deceptive or both.

Systemic failure indeed Foxglove, going right back to Alan Gibb. Anyone remember him? The chap who laid out the blueprint to transform a well-functioning Public Health Service into a business. An ideological decision unsupported by evidence and vigorously protested against at the time. What a shambles it’s become.

“The reforms of the early 1990s, like many other New Zealand reforms of the time, thus becomes an experiment – albeit one driven by the ideology that there would be substantial efficiency gains from the uncritical application of business practices. Although there was very poor monitoring and evaluation, it is clear they failed, providing strong evidence that the underlying theory that commercialisation works in a health system has grave weaknesses.”

Gillybee, there it is. Sad old cliche but true, if it’s not broken don’t fix it.Cannot say that the “Bradford reforms” on electricity have achieved anything other than increasing bureaucracy & hierarchy tenfold. And all the city councils that are now “ a corporate” don’t you know, well let’s not start on that.


Let's all just see this for what it is...... those that know say the $11bn hole in Labour's bucket is a low estimate. So, we are being prepared for the reality of a growing budget deficit and Labour will try to spin it as fixing past mistakes.

Does the money need to be spent on the Health system ? I think yes. Do you think so ? I doubt they are pissing the cashola up against the wall in the casino, if it is going to social services that benefit us, and future generations, what really is the problem ?

Are we still a First World country, with a Rock Star Economy ?
When did we start changing ?

Im sure I heard Bill English bleat on that the new Govt had inherited a "strong and stable economy".

Looks like its another case of if you deny it exists it will just go away,

About a week after this COL took their oath of office but only now are the taxpayers realizing what a bunch of incompetent inexperienced idiots with verbal diarrhea we have in Government.


The Govyt could throw the entire tax take at the Hospitals and it still wouldn't be enough.

The coalition supporters will still be wanting the handouts that they think they are getting!
Ignorance from Jacinda does not cut it nowadays, and she should fall on her sword.
She has her cohort Winstone Peters as an assistant who should’ve been reigning in the COL spending BS.
Is Kiwibuild now up in the air, due to supposed shortfall?
How flippen convenient when we all,know that they could never deliver!
The 1st year of free education is also something that has never been explained to everyone.
It has never been fully explained to everyone as to how it was going to work.
Everyone in their first year gets the student loan in the first year.
It is not until you complete the 3rd year and you pass that you get the first year fees wiped!
If you pull out or don’t complete and pass then you DO pay for the first year of student loan!
Yes just one of the many things that most people don’t know but that is pretty common as when the COL blurt out their rubbish, they don’t even know how anything is going to work!
Geez, it is going to be such a great year for the COL supporters watching as their heroes self destruct and put NZ behind where we should’ve been, had National remained running the country!!!!!

Interested to know your source on the 1st year of education policy - I hadn't heard that it was conditional on completing study. I hope you're right, that would deal neatly with the criticisms that students would piss about for a year for free and then quit.

$380 million bribed and no increase in student enrollments. "Student numbers have jumped at three regional polytechnics - but the Government's fees-free policy appears to have had no impact on universities, wānanga or apprenticeships.

... But Universities NZ director Chris Whelan said Canterbury was only returning to its share of students before the region's 2011 earthquake, and nationally university rolls were flat.

"We might be looking at about 1 per cent [up] on average, but it could still be as little as zero," he said."

Quite a fresh policy, I might wait a year or two before paying too much attention to the stats.

Blowing $380 million/year for a year or two before paying too much attention. Priceless.

Well, it's not me blowing it so I can afford to wait for hard data to come in. My point is, going to university is quite a big decision and incentives may not have an immediate impact. The next student year will be the interesting one for me.

I would like to see us combine low fees with higher academic standards. I reckon we're going in a fundamentally undesirable direction pushing universities to drive as many people through as possible - including international students. When we're seeing academics quietly complaining that they're being pressured to pass people who should never be passed (because numbers and revenue) we should be questioning why we're prioritising what we are, over academic research and standards.

People have suggested using cost as the deterrent (yay, tax cuts for me), but that seems a bit off to me when universities should be using academic standards to determine who gets in and who doesn't.

Yes Rick. Despite their sanctimonious talk at us, the education sector actually performs at a minimal level. It provides time filling for the students, who mostly are too young to know they are being shafted by the educators.

From several people who have attended uni in Chch for their first year.
They were very short on detail announcements this Govt!!!

Interesting, would have thought that would be well known. Like I said, sounds like a good idea.

I'm not expecting any handouts, I voted against the handout that National would have given me, unlike most National voters I would have received the full lot of it as well, as it was a tax cut for the wealthy, disguised as a tax cut for all.

Good point. I too voted against the National tax cut. It would have been handy....

How is keeping more of your money a handout? It's your money not the governments.

De facto bribe then....?

De Facto bribe? What were labour doing in the lead up to the election then? NoFax hit the nail on the head, taking less isn’t a bribe. Government want to take more to bribe other people with your money.


Ardern is coming across as being - finally we've got an adult in charge. I'd say she's handling the issue in a measured, responsible and timely manner.

Gotta admit the optics are poor seeings former Health Minister is already on the payroll of a private Health provider. Hmmm.

From listening to RNZ Campbell Live substantial investigations into state of DHBs over past several months at least - basically sounds like there was a dysfunctional and break down in communication between DHBs management and the Minister.

Not sure what the debate is. Country now is moving on from an era of sabotaging Ministers. History won't judge Key years well. GDP eh...?


Tim, you are being a clown!
Jacinda is clearly in charge of a rabble of a coalition, and not doing a very good job at it

Become a swing voter! It's fun and interesting to do.

Also irresponsible

How so?


Its so easy to spot whom are the property spruikers from their unbalanced comments.

lol, it is quite intriguing how all the clowns of the electronic army popped everywhere almost at the same time to defend the naked emperors .... they are throwing around mud and insults to anyone criticizing this CoLs and noobs after being exposed by their own incompetence and silly promises.

These insults will not make this CoL look any better, instead reflects badly on the ones throwing them around.

The CoLs is actually doing a great job in exposing themselves to all and sundry by their own shallowness and mismanagement. You don't need to pull the wool over our eyes, the whole fish already started to stink !!

Most Nzers were very suspicious about Labour during the election campaign, and some decided to give them the benefit of the doubt ... most now are disappointed to be taken for a ride and these numbers are on the rise as this CoL continues to insult people's intelligence ... 2020 will be the kick out year of this CoLs

I wonder if their organizers are becoming uncomfortably nervous about the amount of negative press they are receiving or if it is the propaganda machine spinning hard to support the bad look Jacinda portrayed in her last budget statement along with the priceless sad look on her FM's face which speaks volumes.

There is little logic in the posts I read in the last two days and emotions are high as if these events have touched a painful nerve and threatening personal gains.... commentators sound to be personally insulted because of this and it looks like the denial phase before terminal cancer news.

Take it easy folks, stick to the facts and commonsense ... Do not get sucked in by liars and manipulators - politics is indeed a dirty job and consumes novices and ill informed people as fuel for its own benefit, Not theirs -- look around you and use your brains.

Take it easy ...


lol, it is quite intriguing how all the clowns of the electronic army popped everywhere almost at the same time to defend the naked emperors

A+ for irony, once more. Nice work.

Eco. Winter is coming.


I'm disappointed my Adblocker doesn't censor out this sort of crap.


lol indeed - if Bridges is the best you conservatives can toss up there is going to be a lot more whinging, whining and wittering to come - he's still running the John Key playbook to the gullible with his propaganda about National's fiscal (mis)management prowess and financial prudence by saying it over and over, again and again in interviews about how great they were at running the country (into the ground). what a joke - I'm already over his voice and pathetic smarmy blithering.

To my eyes, you and a few other National die-hards seem just as partisan as some of the pro-labour commenters. Neither position is terribly helpful to a constructive discussion.


There is no housing crisis and there has been no underfunding of services. The only real issue is we stil have the old flag.


Yes and did I read the other day John Key said his biggest failure whilst PM was not getting the flag changed! What a shallow individual he is..

National, I think, missed a trick by not giving Adams the top job. She sounds like the most able to reach across the house to get things done, and thereby rebuild, and refresh the National Party playbook/narrative. As she did with Ardern when she herself was a Minister on children issues.

Bridges is too same, same..


Everyone is taking it easy Eco Bird its actually you who writes essay after essay of diatribe on here. We are positive knowing that major problems are being addressed with the opposition unable to pull the wool over anymore and are being found out. Though they will always be able to pull it over some i.e yourself


The Nationl government left behind “very resilient public services.”
Is an out-right lie.

Well .., Wow ?, .... thank you all so much for proving my points - at some point I thought I might be wrong or off the mark .... but hey, you are real darlings along with your supporters, lol...

Take it easy ...

Is it just naive or is it dishonest to promiss too much in order to get elected and then blame someone else for not being able to deliver on the promisses made?

Depends whether the blaming is reasonable. We'll find out in the next month or so hopefully:

"In the lead up to the Budget, she says the Government will be “creating a picture and sharing more publicly what we have found sitting in front of us from the moment we took office and we opened up the books.”"

So , "what we have found sitting in front of us from the moment we took office and we opened up the books ".... they are being dishonest then !!

why reveal it now if they knew that 6 months ago ... is she saying that Labour which had their budget independently reviewed and had the PreFu beforehand discovered a monster ?? really ? why not tell us before ?? why wait until budget time to soften us for another two years to come ... ?? .. the whole thing stinks !

they are BOTH noobs and liars ....

So what the hell have they been doing in the last 6 months other than spending money on their promises without paying any attention to the till !! or they knew and spent it in anticipation to fool these idiots ( The NZ public) when the time comes to milk them again - that is What labour does and always did!!

This is why I said earlier that they are taking NZers for a ride and insulting their intelligence !

Naive? Do you mean they naively believed that the Nats had been pretty straight up about the state of things before they lost the election? I think that is a worse reflection on the Nats than Labour to be frank.

wow, this is jr. mr. key, he can lie without blinking an eye

Dont worry , in just 5 short weeks its budget day and we will have a better idea as to how big Robertson"s Hole actually is .

There will be smoke , mirrors and spin to try and make you believe its smaller than it really is .

The coalition of sore losers are going to wear out their keyboards with their angry old man rants at this rate. !!! .... !! .....!!!! .... !!!! ..... !!!!!....

Lol - lets call them the COSL ......... Ecobird can be the PrimeSourPuss

How about Grammarly Bird.

The coalition of sore losers are going to wear out their keyboards with their angry old man rants at this rate. !!! .... !! .....!!!! .... !!!! ..... !!!!!....

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