Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has hit back at criticism by National leader Simon Bridges over the number of reviews her Government has initiated since taking office in October.

She rejects his claim that it has announced 122 reviews and says the number is 38 reviews or working groups that involve external agencies and work beyond the normal business of Government.

By settling on a lower number, she also rejects his estimate that the cost is $114 million and says it is $34.5 million.

Ardern defended the use of reviews and working groups by saying it was a way to involved experts and ordinary New Zealanders in solving some big challenges and potentially save taxpayers millions of dollars in the long run.


National had made false claims about the extent of the work and inaccurately labelled regular Government business as review and working groups.

"Where we are doing review work, it's because the public have called for it or there are genuine issues that need to be fixed - be it bowel screening, mental health or insurance claimed in Canterbury," she said.

The review into the meth contamination of state houses by Sir Peter Gluckman was a is a prime example.

"We could have ignored the problem, or brought in the experts to stop more families being evicted, and avoiding unnecessary clean-up costs for landlords. "

The $100 million National wasted on decontaminating houses could have built 300 more state homes - instead perfectly good ones sat empty.

"Now we are reopening those homes," she sdaid.

"I've always said we are going to do Government differently, and one of the main ways we're different is that we listen to experts and make sure everyday people have a say about the public services they rely on."

Ardern was responding to a press statement by Bridges today in which he targeted a review of the healthy system by Heather Simpson, a part-time adviser in the Prime Minister's Office and the former chief of staff of Helen Clark when she was Prime Minister.


"While staffers in the Prime Minister's Office get plum roles reviewing the health system, designated mental health and Maori development funding have been cut by $100 million, " Bridges said.

"The Government needs to shelve its reviews and get its priorities straight – the $114 million could hire 2,100 extra teachers or pay for an extra 20,000 elective surgeries. Instead, the Government is spending hundreds of millions of dollars for others to do the work for it."

The Government's "underwhelming Budget" also showed that Labour, New Zealand First and the Greens could not figure out their priorities, were not ready to govern and were out of their depth.

"Whether it's the broken promise on cheaper GP visits for all New Zealanders, the broken promise on affordable KiwiBuild housing, or the broken promise on school donations, the message is clear: New Zealanders cannot rely on Labour to deliver."