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Wellington Accommodation Affair

Friday 19th Jan 2001 Richard Prebble Media Release -- Other

ACT Leader Hon Richard Prebble has questioned the handling of the inquiry into out-of-town living expenses claimed by Cabinet Ministers Marian Hobbs and Phillida Bunkle.

“When judges, are accused of irregularities with expenses returns, the matter isn't referred to civil servants in the justice department but to the Crown Law office.

“When social welfare beneficiaries are accused of double dipping benefits it is referred to the police.

“However when Cabinet Ministers are accused of having filled out a false expenses claim, the Government refers the matter to the civil servants who administer the scheme.

“Of course the civil servants have written a report designed to excuse the ministers and themselves.

“What the Government should now do is refer the whole matter to the Crown Law Office, which if they followed previous precedents would refer the matter to a Queens Council to determine whether the minister should be prosecuted.

“The public won't accept the double standard in handling this case.

“The Ministers now have a huge credibility problem. It is just arrogant for the two Ministers who are in charge of biosecurity and protecting consumers interests to claim that they are competent for these challenging ministerial tasks, yet they want to be excused for having claimed Wellington accommodation allowances on the basis that they didn't understand what's involved in registering on the electoral roll, a task that 2 million New Zealanders managed to perform successfully,” Hon Richard Prebble said.


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