The Finance Minister has confirmed that Treasury is yet again revising its budgetary estimates.
Bill English has long predicted that the government’s books will be in surplus by the 2014/15 financial year.
However, a predicted massive hike in legal costs to the Crown has forced Treasury to take another look at the Government’s accounts.
In particular, the prospect of ministers resorting in the future to taxpayer-funded litigation each and every time anyone says anything mildly critical about them, is expected to add a significant amount to the cost of running the country.
Treasury officials are particularly concerned that it would not be hard for anyone to come up with plenty of damning things to say about most members of John Key’s Cabinet.
Mr English today urged restraint, saying that the country could not afford any more criticism of Government ministers.
“We are in tough economic times,” said Mr English, “and that means we must all make sacrifices.
“I’m confident that the taxpayers of New Zealand understand that in the current environment it just isn’t financially responsible for people to go about criticising members of this government.”
Mr English said he did not accept that his ministerial colleagues were wasting taxpayer money by resorting to ridiculous lawsuits in order to stifle criticism.
“People like Judith Collins have a right to use legal action to cling desperately to what little reputation they have left.
“And let’s not lose sight of the fact that the real culprits are the Labour opposition. Labour are entirely to blame for this expected litigation blowout.
“If the likes of Trevor Mallard and Andrew Little would just stop exposing our incompetence we wouldn’t have any need to sue them.”