Election 2023: Infamous 'Mother of all Budgets' curator, former Finance Minister Ruth Richardson accuses National and Labour of 'heroic assumptions'

  • 07/10/2023

A former Finance Minister who spearheaded widespread Government spending cuts in the 1990s believes Labour and National's fiscal promises for the upcoming election are "heroic assumptions".

There have been many fiscal numbers thrown around this election campaign, with numerous questions about whether National could fund its tax cuts policy, while Labour was also making big promises including phasing in free dental care.  

But Richardson, the former National Party Finance Minister who delivered the infamous 'Mother of All Budgets' in 1991 that included major benefit cuts and new user-pays requirements in hospitals and schools, believed both major parties were overselling. 

"Frankly, I think red and blue are guilty of heroic assumptions," she told Newshub Nation host Rebecca Wright on Saturday.

"We've got a campaign of hard truths, heroic assumptions or sweet lies."

Richardson, now on the board of the New Zealand Taxpayer's Union, believed "the inconvenient truths" weren't being discussed enough and praised the ACT Party for telling "hard truths".

"We have Government spending up by 50 percent, our debt has doubled, we are in real fiscal shtook, growth has tanked and what this means is that inflation and interest rates are going to be higher for longer," she said.

"That's what we should be talking about. I mean, debt and deficits are bad enough, but denial is even worse."

Richardson said more "financial prudence" was needed.

"Fiddling won't cut it - fundamental reform is required."

She said politicians needed to "get real" about New Zealand's priorities.

"We've been blown off course by COVID, by cyclones - we need to take back... and we need to right-size the Government," Richardson said.

Ruth Richardson.
Ruth Richardson. Photo credit: Newshub Nation.

"We are not getting bang for buck, not only do we have a problem with the quantity of public spending - it's the quality. It's woeful."

The stakes of next week's election "could not be higher", she said.

"We need a serious Government committed to a programme of coherent and serious reform; we need to do the mahi. So, I'm for 'the Mahi of all Budgets' because that's what we need."

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