New Finance Minister Nicola Willis says Labour left Government books with 'snakes, snails' and 'nasty financial surprises'

The new Finance Minister Nicola Willis has slammed the previous Labour Government for leaving the books with "nasty financial surprises" that National will have to clean up.  

The new Government was sworn in at a ceremony at Government House on Monday and Willis has since received briefings from Treasury officials about the state of the country's books. 

After looking at the books Willis said the outgoing Labour Government had left some "nasty surprises". 

Willis appeared on AM on Wednesday morning and was asked if she could give any more specifics about those "surprises".  

She told AM co-host Melissa Chan-Green before the election she said former Finance Minister Grant Robertson and the Labour Party had left the "cupboard bare" and spent New Zealanders' money with "pretty wild abandon".   

"What I've now learned is it's not just that the cupboard is bare, it's that there are snakes and snails and all sorts of things in there, nasty financial surprises that we as an incoming government are going to have to deal with," Willis said.  

"It's things like projects completely blowing out in cost, not having been well managed, things that have been committed to with the government not putting enough money in there to actually meet the commitment into the future.  

"So I'm working through each of those one by one to make sure we manage it a lot more responsibly. We're going to be a government that has fiscal discipline in place and treats New Zealanders' money with respect." 

When asked if she could provide an example of the "snakes" left behind by Labour, Willis wouldn't provide any details but added she would provide more transparency over the coming days and weeks.    

The new Government is still getting their feet under the table at the Beehive but more information is emerging about which National policies had to be scrapped during collation talks with New Zealand First and the ACT Party.  

One policy that was scrapped means that low-and middle-income families who were receiving Working for Families Tax Credits are going to miss out on up to $38 a week that they were in line for. 

The New Zealand Herald reported on Tuesday the $38 a week families will miss out on was under a policy designed to ease the "impact of the cost of living" which was "especially significant for families raising children", according to a policy document. 

Willis told AM National has preserved all the tax reductions for next year that the party had promised in the election campaign.  

"That includes a $25 a week increase to the in-work tax credit for families receiving and eligible for Working for Families. So that increase is there, we've protected that in the coalition agreements," she said.  

"What we haven't done is committed to tax changes beyond next year. You'll know that we put out a tax calculator prior to the election, that just focussed on the tax changes we were promising for next year rather than in further years.  

"The truth is I would love to offer low-and middle-income families more tax reduction in the years beyond next year, but we just need to make sure we can afford that, that we can fund it responsibly before we make any commitments to it." 

When asked how that was fulfilling National's promise of helping Kiwis with the cost of living crisis, Willis told AM her party has been "resolute" in their commitment to reducing taxes in 2024.

Watch the full interview above for more.