A new report shows Chris Hipkins is quite literally the Bread and Butter Prime Minister. The only problem is that $25 million worth of the ‘free’ school lunches he signed off on were fed to pigs in 2021”, says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“This was the one programme Hipkins was able to point to in May when I pressed him in Parliament for one example of a Labour policy delivering value for money – but the data shows he’s wrong.

“Jacinda Ardern’s pet project, overseen by Chris Hipkins when he was Education Minister, is not only assuming a job parents are responsible for, it’s wasting $25 million a year.

“Treasury has found that up to 10,000 ‘free’ school lunches are wasted each day. The cost of the programme in 2021 was $211 million, meaning up to $25 million was wasted on surplus lunches.

“Wasted lunches are given to families with pigs.

“Treasury also found no evidence the programme was improving attendance or benefiting Māori, who make up half students in the programme. 

“There's no evidence that the one programme Chris Hipkins says is delivering value for money is actually doing so.

“A loaf of Nature’s Fresh Toast White Bread is $3.80 at Countdown. $25 million would buy almost 6.6 million loaves. Wasting that kind of money in a cost of living crisis is almost criminal.

“ACT told Labour way back in May 2021 that it needed to look at the evidence before it rushed this policy out. It needed to do detailed work on the problem it was trying to solve, not just throw around taxpayer’s money so people thought it was kind.

“This was a classic case of Instagram Prime Minister Jacinda Arden’s marketing stunts.

“The vast majority of parents can take care of their own kids. Politicians shouldn't be taking over the job of parents. It sends the wrong message and undermines personal responsibility.

“No one will ever spend taxpayer’s money as carefully as their own.

“Interest rates are high because government spending is out of control. Spending has increased by $50 billion from when Labour entered Government in 2017, while net core Crown debt has increased by $97 billion.

“COVID-19 might have been when Grant Robertson shook off any fiscal restraint he had, but he hasn’t been able to pull back at all since then. The Government is forecast to borrow $24.5 billion in the years after COVID (2021/22-2023-24).

“A fiscally-responsible Government ACT is part of will take the pressure of inflation and let Kiwis keep more of their money through tax cuts. All that is needed is a bit of political fortitude.

“ACT’s alternative budget has a fully costed tax cut package that is built on aspiration for New Zealand. We would cut wasteful spending by $38 billion without touching frontline services, and cut taxes by $34 billion over four years. These savings will put the Government’s books back in the black straight away, taking pressure off inflation.

“For a strong economy we need to create conditions for prosperity, the opportunity for people to get ahead. ACT would let people keep more of what they earn with a two-rate tax system – 17.5 and 28 per cent. If you’re a nurse on $70,000, our tax cuts let you keep $2,500 more a year.”

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