Treasury refuses to front at ERC during economic crisis

Tue, 19 May, 2020

“Treasury officials have refused to appear at the Epidemic Response Committee during the worst economic crisis in a century”, says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“The week after the Government announced it would borrow $140 billion and spend at least an extra $70 billion, Treasury failed to appear before the Committee to answer critical questions about the Budget and the Covid-19 response.

“Treasury Secretary Caralee McLiesh was scheduled to appear this morning, but the Committee was told that she had fallen ill.

“Treasury has known since last week that the Committee planned to ask questions about the Budget. Why wasn’t another Treasury official made available to the Committee? Did the Finance Minister’s office prevent them from appearing?

“Treasury has 529 employees. It is difficult to believe it couldn't find one person to front up.

“This is now an emerging pattern for ‘the most open and transparent government in New Zealand’s history’.

“After a Friday afternoon document dump nine days ago, it was revealed that the Prime Minister had ordered Ministers to dismiss questions about the Covid-19 response and to refuse interviews.

“The Opposition can’t hold the Government to account if officials and Ministers won’t publicly front up.

“New Zealand is facing the worst economic crisis in a century, and the Government is planning to borrow $140 billion and spend at least an extra $70 billion. It is simply unacceptable that the Treasury won’t appear at the Epidemic Response Committee to answer critical questions.”