Labour, Greens slam Government's public service targets for 'punching down'

  • 08/04/2024

The Government's come under fire for setting targets on public services, with Opposition parties saying it's about punishing Kiwis doing it tough rather than helping them.

On Monday, the Government released nine targets for various public services including health, education, crime, employment, housing and climate change. 

Last week Prime Minister Christopher Luxon announced specific targets were being introduced to measure public service outcomes as part of the Government's list of goals for the period until June 30.   

However, the targets were quick to come under fire from other parties.

Labour's finance spokesperson Barbara Edmonds shared a personal story when criticising the plan.

"My father had to go on the benefit to look after my mum when she was dying from cancer. What he needed was support from a Government not basically the pressure to go back to work," she said.

The Government wants 50,000 fewer people on the Jobseeker support benefit and in paid work, setting a target to reduce the number of Kiwis on Jobseekers from 190,000 in 2023 to 140,000.

Green Party co-leader Chlöe Swarbrick also shared her scathing views on the targets, as well as dragging Luxon for what was called "lame and lousy example of leadership".

"Today the Prime Minister has announced a wafer-thin user experience update to his shallow operating system," she said. 

"These nine targets come without a whiff of a plan and are deliberately geared to punish: he's talking about kicking people out of emergency housing and off of welfare, instead of any genuinely ambitious goal to support meaningful contributions in communities or improve housing security.

"When all it takes to meet your goals is punching down, you might want to re-evaluate those goals."

Swarbrick specifically noted the Government's targets on climate, which would see a total net emissions of no more than 290 megatonnes from 2022 to 2025 and 305 megatonnes from 2026 to 2030.

"The climate targets are the homework of Hon. James Shaw and the Climate Change Commission, which the Nats already agreed to in 2022," Swarbrick said.

However, she added: "The problem is, they've gutted the pathway to get there by chopping public transport, walking and cycling, denser cities, the clean car discount, and are intent on pouring oil and gas on the climate crisis fire by reopening drilling and likely fast-tracking coal mining.

"The Government's so far only meaningfully put their money where their mouth is on one thing: $2.9 billion for landlords. When someone tells you who they are, believe them."