Health Minister David Clark says the previous government never set aside the $100 million which National is now saying should be used for mental health initiatives.
National’s mental health spokesman, Matt Doocey, said on Sunday the new government had inherited the money and should use it rather than wait for the outcome of the mental health inquiry.
He said the previous government was going to use the $100m for initiatives that would “make a real difference” but Mr Clark has taken issue with that.
“The funding, to be spent over four years, was belatedly announced in election year after National had been in office for almost nine years,” he said on Monday.
“We were told it was to fund 17 initiatives.
“In fact the funding was never appropriated for any of those initiatives – many of which were in their absolute infancy.”
In budget terms, to appropriate funds means to set money aside for specific purposes.
Mr Clark said it had been contingency funding, which was typical of National’s piecemeal approach to mental health.
“Mental health is a priority issue for the government and me personally,” he said.
“We listened to community calls for an inquiry into mental health and addiction.
“Nothing is off the table for that inquiry and I’m confident it will make significant contributions.”
Source: Newstalk ZB