Health minister grilled over $8b promise

Revenue Minister Michael Woodhouse said trusts would have to file annual returns in future. Photo...
National MP Michael Woodhouse. Photo: NZ Herald/file
Health Minister David Clark. Photo: NZ Herald
Health Minister David Clark. Photo: NZ Herald

 

Health Minister David Clark says the $8 billion extra for health Labour promised during the election campaign will still materialise in future budgets during this term of government.

Clark was questioned on the promised funding, over and above what National pledged during the campaign, at a parliamentary committee today.

National MP Michael Woodhouse asked where the $8b, contained in Labour's fiscal policy, had gone because there was no sign of it in this year's Budget.

"This is a four-year Budget. This has 18/19 and at least three out years. Why is the $8b not able to be identified?," Woodhouse asked Clark.

"I don't want to announce the next Budget and the one after but I'll give you a hint, it might be in there," Clark responded.

"We're committed to investing $8b more over the period of this term of Government," Clark confirmed.

"The Labour fiscal plan is not a founding document of the Government, although the Government is committed to investing $8b more over the forecast period," he said.

Although the promise of $8b in health over four years remains on Labour's website as part of its fiscal plan, the Government has gone quiet on it and it remains just a promise.

Speaking after the estimates hearing, at which ministers outline upcoming spending in their portfolios, Clark maintained that the Government would invest more in health than the previous government.

"It was a clear pledge … we're in government now so we are getting on with investing that money."

Clark said it would be spent by 2020.

"It'll be invested over the course of this government is the phrase we've chosen to use."

Woodhouse said the Government hadn't delivered any more funding and the promise was a lie.

"They need to explain to the public of New Zealand why they set an expectation that there would be $8b more than the previous government would put in where it just doesn't exist."

In April Clark said cheaper GP visits from July 1, a Labour election promise, would have to be phased in over time.

The full policy was estimated at a cost of $213 million a year.

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