Labour Attack On Winz Is Petty Posturing

  • Peter McCardle
Associate Minister of Social Services, Work and Income (Work and Income)

Associate Work and Income Minister Peter McCardle today dismissed claims made by Labour on WINZ's furnishing spending as a petty and transparent attempt to piggy-back on on-going Alliance attacks.

"Some of the Opposition spin-doctoring on Work and Income NZ is just self-serving puffery, and clearly part of a deliberate strategy to undermine WINZ and its one stop shop structure," Mr McCardle said.

"I take valid criticism of WINZ seriously, and in recent weeks have required the department to urgently address performance in relation to student allowances, and procedures around confidentiality.

"However WINZ does its job very well overall. It is the country's newest and biggest department. It has over 4,500 staff, spends over $10 billion in taxpayers' money per year, and over $600 million in wages and programmes.

"Despite its petty criticism, Labour has publicly admitted the one stop shop is the way to go, and it certainly is. WINZ will save the taxpayer around $15 million a year because it is more efficient than its preceding three separate services. Naturally, it costs money to set up the new organisation.

"Yet, despite this, Opposition MPs grandstand on every piece of trivia they can get, or invent, about WINZ to advance their own cause. They waste both staff time and tens of thousands of dollars of public money asking ridiculous Parliamentary Questions on everyday spending such as carpets, desks, name badges, training sessions and management meetings which are standard for any large organisation.

"Answering these questions costs approximately $100 per hour of taxpayers' money - tens of thousands of dollars per year for this office alone.

"Here are some examples: I have been asked in a Parliamentary Question to give details about the design specifications of desks bought by WINZ. It is a nonsense question, as every organisation needs to buy desks, yet the question costs hundreds of dollars to research and answer.

"I have been asked to list details of what it cost to produce name badges for staff. For what possible purpose?

"I have been asked by Labour to give details of all managers' meetings held since January 1. "Where, when, for what purpose, and what was the total cost by item," the Question asks. How disgraceful! WINZ managers have held meetings!

"While there can be no doubt that campaigning opposition MPs will continue to spin trivia-based claims dressed up as something important, usually as a revelation with associated levels of seeming outrage, the public should know it is often just melodramatic self-serving rubbish," Mr McCardle said.