Opposition MPs upset the Treasury did not consult them before releasing a new living standards framework report to the public

Judith Collins, by Jacky Carpenter.

The National Party is upset it was not consulted on the Treasury’s living standard framework before it went out for public consultation and is questioning the political neutrality of the Treasury’s process.

But Finance Minister Grant Robertson says the Treasury has been working on the framework for years and there have been many opportunities for National to have its say.

Treasury officials briefed members of the Finance and Expenditure select committee on its proposed living standards framework on Wednesday.

National’s Finance Spokeswoman Amy Adams made a point of expressing her disappointment that her party had not been part of the consultation process.

Earlier this month, Conal Smith of Kōtātā Insight released his report on how wellbeing should be integrated into the Government’s future Budgets.

He recommended the Treasury, which commissioned him to write the report, adopts his proposals.

The report will help form the measurements influencing future ‘wellbeing budgets.’

Speaking to Interest.co.nz after the committee briefing, National’s housing spokeswoman Judith Collins said it was concerning the Opposition was not consulted on the report, before it was released for the wider public to have its say.

In the briefing, National MPs were told they could make a submission on the framework along with other interested parties.

“It goes to the heart of the credibility of any framework … that the Opposition is consulted in a way that is possibly a little bit more than ‘they can go on the website with the public and make submissions,’” Collins says.

She says giving the Opposition prior consultation helps to make sure Treasury advice is free of political influence.

“It’s always better if Treasury, which does have a [big] role, is seen to act very carefully around any concepts around any political interference.”

In response to a question from Adams about how the measure can be kept politically neutral, Treasury’s chief operating officer Fiona Ross compared the framework to the department’s budget day economic forecasting.

She says in that document, the Treasury just presents its forecast and is free from any government influence.

Robertson disagrees there is any potential for political bias.

“It’s been something that the Treasury has been developing for some years under the last Government and this one; so I don’t think there is any sense of bias in it at all.”

Meanwhile, National has added more firepower to its line up of Finance and Expenditure select committee MPs with the addition of Collins.

She replaces National backbencher Lawrence Yule and, along with Adams, asked most of the questions in Wednesday’s briefing.

“For me, it’s a better fit in many ways,” she says.

“I particularly wanted to [be there] because of the financial drivers around the housing, urban development and the RMA.”

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?

We welcome your comments below. If you are not already registered, please register to comment or click on the "Register" link below a comment.

Remember we welcome robust, respectful and insightful debate. We don't welcome abusive or defamatory comments and will de-register those repeatedly making such comments. Our current Comment policy is here.

7 Comments

We need to get rid of this shambolic Government ASAP .

They are embarking on the same trajectory as Helen Clarks' machiavellian approach , dont consult , discredit any voices of reason , just go ahead and manage the fallout .

It will not end well for them

Not so fast Boatman. This can all be unwound when National are back in power. In the meantime enjoy watching the Lefties lie in their increasingly fetid nest. Close to nine months on and what has really changed?

Sorry Boatman, but that misses the point. Treasury in the 1980's, was a neo-liberal entity to its core. But neo-liberalism trashes a finite planet the same way communism, totalitarianism and any other 'ism does, and exponentially-increasing the trashing has the trashing finishing sooner rather than later. So lambasting one unsustainable crowd on behalf of another such, is a tad nonsensical.

We have to move past all that nonsense, if we don't we'll crash into the Limits to Growth, and a failed state is much more to be feared than a sustainable one. Malthus pointed the problem out first, Hubbert went closer and Jay Forrester's crowd from MIT (it is the top uni on the planet) nailed it. Catton's magisterial 'Overshoot', written in 1980 and downloadable, scopes the problem for anyone who wants to be informed, rather than being a party-hack spinner.

. So it is good that Treasury are 'starting a discussion', much better than repressing one.

Their Natural Capital one is the key, although their piece nearly nails it then drops the ball more than once - its like it was written by more than one and they didn't consult before pressing 'send'. And I think they were really searching for something to drive more growth - trying to squeeze all the capital out of anything that might be up for grabs.

But it was just a set of discussion papers. Anyone could submit - and some of us bothered to. I put 3000+ words in there somewhere - so much more positive than moaning.....

Poor little cry babies, my heart bleeds for them. Now, where did I leave that tiny violin.

up
10

Why didn't they read the material when in power?

Too busy checking their property portfolios?