18 October 1999
COME CLEAN DR CULLEN
Disclosure by Labour's finance spokesman, Dr Michael Cullen, that the party's many policies announced to date have not
yet been officially finalised reinforces why political "promises" need to be rigorously challenged and scrutinised.
"If Dr Cullen wants to call the Chamber unprofessional, he can," said Michael Barnett, Chief Executive of the Auckland
Regional Chamber of Commerce, "but how professional is an organisation that unveils millions of dollars worth of
promises only to say when challenged that voters must wait for the real oil before they can be taken seriously."
"Labour's credibility is threatened if it doesn't come clean today and state in plain language whether it is prepared to
run a fiscally sustainable economy, or is willing to spend everything it has promised to date, regardless of whether
public debts start to rise again and government accounts go back into deficit," said Michael Barnett.
Mr Barnett was responding to Dr Cullen's challenge to the Chamber of Commerce to wait for details of Labour's fiscal
programme to be finalised before concluding that the policies would increase unemployment and reduce growth.
Commenting on an Infometrics report commissioned by the Chamber that Labour will have to spend $1.24 billion over three
years to implement its promises to date, Dr Cullen said that not only had Labour's fiscal programme not yet been
finalised, but that the Chamber should also recognise "that any Government will vary its fiscal programme over time in
order to meet its fiscal targets."
However, Mr Barnett said that if this is Labour's approach it was not only unprofessional but deceitful. "Deceitful
because in making its many promises to date, there has been no mention to voters that they were conditional on being
finalised in the light of the pre-election fiscal update due in a few weeks' time."
Labour should make clear immediately what its fiscal principles are. "Labour has just two options if it intends to keep
its spending promises on the policy announcements it has made to date and also maintain an economy that is not unwinding
- it can increase taxes further than it has promised to date or make spending cuts elsewhere in the economy."
For more information, contact; Michael Barnett (09) 309 6100 or 021 631 150