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National Party Cuts – Front Line Services in the Firing Line

National’s cuts target what it calls back office government bureaucracies. But the areas in scope of the cuts include courts, biosecurity, and cybersecurity. These aren’t back-office services.

The National Party has identified nearly $2.5bn of cuts to public services to pay for its tax programme, but an analysis by the CTU shows that this includes services many New Zealanders would consider front-line, says CTU Economist and Director of Policy Craig Renney. “National targets what it calls back office government bureaucracies. But the areas in scope of the cuts include courts, biosecurity, and cybersecurity. These aren’t back-office services”.

“Troublingly, the areas identified for cuts also include work on family violence and sexual violence. It includes serious fraud. It includes food safety. These are not areas that should be under the microscope for cuts. These should be areas where there is cross-party consensus that we need to invest more”.

National’s numbers come from Treasury data published at the last Budget. This has given the CTU the ability to identify what is within National’s savings programme. If we concentrate on the truly ‘non-front line’ the size of the cuts necessary to achieve National’s target rises nearly 5-fold – to 31% of spending. The reality is deeper and deeper cuts to public services, or no tax changes.

Craig Renney said “This analysis adds to the existing problems facing National’s tax plan. The cuts to public services will have to get even bigger if their overseas tax measures fail to bring in the $3.6bn necessary. National says that $2.3bn in tax cuts for landlords are necessary, but it hasn’t identified why possible cuts to front line services, such as search and rescue, are necessary”.

Craig Renney said “National should provide voters with clarity about how it will achieve such potentially deep cuts to public services. There are only a few weeks left until early voting opens, which only adds to the urgency. New Zealanders deserve to know how National will make its sums work, without cutting the essential services that are in their sights”.

Example areas within the scope of National’s savings programme:

DepartmentService Description
Crown LawThe provision and supervision of a national Crown prosecution service and oversight of public prosecutions
DPMCSupporting activities that address cyber security threats and improving cyber security resilience
DPMCLeadership and co-ordination of the government’s response to the sequence of 2023 extreme weather events that impacted the North Island.
Minister for the Prevention of Family and Sexual ViolenceA whole-of-government approach to prevent, address and eliminate family violence and sexual violence, as well as related services and support to Ministers.
Serious Fraud OfficePreventing, detecting, investigating and prosecuting serious financial crimes by the Serious Fraud Office.
CustomsThe provision of services relating to goods crossing borders, including trade compliance, and the protection of New Zealand through interventions, investigations and enforcement.
Ministry of Primary IndustriesBiosecurity monitoring and clearance programmes that manage the biosecurity risk associated with international trade and travel.
Ministry of Primary IndustriesScientific inputs and development and implementation of food related standards (including as appropriate international and joint Australia/New Zealand standards) and standards related to inputs into food production, imports, exports, new and emerging issues and the domestic market.
Ministry of TransportThe coordination of search and rescue activities as authorised by section 9(1) of Land Transport Management Act 2003.
Inland RevenueInland Revenue undertaking investigation, audit and litigation activities
Ministry of JusticeProviding services that support the work of the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal and High Court
Ministry of Social DevelopmentThe processing and administrative aspects of payment of Veterans’ Pensions and related allowances
Department of Internal AffairsProviding effective management of New Zealand’s records of identity, authenticating official documents, and coordinating the congratulatory message service.