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Another Hefty Bill For Charter Flight Debacle

Taxpayers today learned they’ve had to foot another hefty bill for the WINZ charter flight debacle taking the cost of the Wairakei conference and its fallout to over $600, 000.

ACT MP Muriel Newman’s continued probing of the costs surrounding the charter flight incident have revealed that the total cost of outside advisors hired by Christine Rankin as a result of last year’s charter flight incident was $148,505.52.

A breakdown of the figures from Social Services Minister Steve Maharey shows WINZ hired a private investigative company, Corporate Risk in July 1999 at a total cost of $1,155.00. The cost of two public relations firms hire to assist WINZ was $62,360.00.

The biggest bill was for legal advice to WINZ over the incident. That’s been put at $84,990.52.

Muriel Newman said that despite the cost for Wairakei conference and its fallout continuing to mount, no one has put their hand up to admit that they were responsible and the Government continues to refuse to determine culpability.

“Steve Maharey has been pressured into releasing these figures by my continued questioning. In Opposition he railed against secrecy surrounding this incident and yet as Minister he has sat on these figures and only released them when backed into a corner.

“Steve Maharey has also replied to me in a written question that he thinks there are no outstanding issues remaining surrounding the charter flight incident. Until culpability for the incident is established the Minister will continue to have to answer questions.

“He also said in Opposition that he would be very concerned by any secret settlement because that would mean the public would never know who was responsible. Again, as Minister, he has let taxpayers down by refusing to even say when the reported $100,000 settlement between WINZ and the manager who resigned was struck.

“If the Minister wants to correct the perception that his uncontrolled and vicious personal attacks on Christine Rankin have rendered him impotent to do his job because Ms Rankin has a massive personal grievance claim hanging over his head, he should lift the unacceptable shroud of secrecy surrounding this incident,” said Muriel Newman.


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