National criticises Government working groups

By Moana Makapelu Lee

The National Party are criticising what they say is the Government's obsession with working groups. National say they've counted 122 groups so far which could be more and have estimated costs at $114 million. Opposition leader Simon Bridges says the real cost comes in the form of "lost opportunity" for improvements to mental health, Māori development, new teachers and elective surgeries to name a few.

National Party Leader Simon Bridges says the Government needs to refocus its funding for Working Groups. "They could meet some of their election promises whether it was getting rid of donations in schools, whether it was universally cheaper GPs or whether it was doing the police officers they said they would over three years. Any of the things they could do with the significant amount of money."

This comes after National Party inquiries into Government working groups, which they say could be even more than the 122 they have counted. "It's not that every single one of these commissions, working group inquiries is wrong. But I think overall the quantity and the quality of them is over the top and means a lot of lost opportunity for NZ" says Bridges.

However, the Prime Minister disagrees. Jacinda Ardern says 38 reviews are in operation costed at $34.5million. That's 4 cents in every $100 of Government spending. 

"The numbers that have been put out by the National Opposition are just patently incorrect. Some of the things that are included are just the general business of Government. They've included some of the mediation work we've done on the nurses pay agreements."

The Government says expert involvement is critical in fixing some of the country's biggest challenges. "Where we actually have undertaken legitimate reviews - that's because we've said we'll do Government differently. We want to bring in experts, we want New Zealanders to have a say on the significant challenges that we're facing and we want them to last longer than a three year cycle."

The Prime Minister says the Government's review into meth contamination is a prime example for the need of expert review panels.