Treasury is fudging its numbers to hide the real levels of inequality in New Zealand, and in doing so politicising its research and advice to Government.
This week the Treasury published a background note entitled ‘Increasing Equity’ that looks at the drivers of New Zealand’s growth in inequality in comparison to other OECD countries and concludes that inequality in New Zealand is “about average” compared to the OECD.
However the report uses non OECD countries in its analysis to improve the relative ranking of inequality. Parliamentary Library research undertaken for the Green Party shows that when New Zealand is only compared to other OECD countries we drop to 25th out of 34 countries; below average and in the bottom third.
The Treasury is a public department, not a right wing think tank. It owes it to the New Zealanders that fund it to undertake honest and accurate research. They spend a lot of their report downplaying the socially corrosive and economically destructive consequences of inequality. In order to prove that political point they have fudged their numbers.
We need honest information about inequality. The Treasury have got it wrong, rather than being ‘about average’ we are actually in the bottom third of OECD countries. This kind of reporting is dangerous because it attempts to create a case for not taking action to tackle inequality.
This is the not the first time a Government department has caught fudging numbers in order to prove a political point for the National Party. The Treasury manipulated the figures last year to try to prove private power companies charged less than publicly owned ones.
The Reserve Bank Governor Graeme Wheeler also misled Parliament when he said that bank profits were “about average or below” most other OECD economies. However data we obtained under the Official Information Act showed banks’ pre-tax returns on assets from 2009-2011 made them the fifth most profitable banks in the OECD.
Over 270,000 Kiwi kids live in poverty. Those kids need their Treasury to undertake honest research on their situation and stop engaging in political spin.