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Mallard bypasses checks on yacht race funding

Hon Bill English MP National Party Leader

18 July 2003

Mallard bypasses checks on yacht race funding

National Party Leader Bill English says Helen Clark and Sports Minister Trevor Mallard ducked the proper checks when hatching the plan to spend nearly $34 million taxpayer dollars challenging for the America's Cup.

"$34 million buys a lot of hip and heart operations.

"Not only do Cabinet rules say that Trevor Mallard should have consulted with Treasury, he had a moral obligation to the taxpayer to seek the best advice available," says Mr English.

"There are conspicuous omissions from papers relating to the America's Cup funding released under the Official Information Act. The papers, which include a Cabinet report and Cabinet minutes, suggest the legislation was rushed through Mr Mallard's office with little or no outside advice.

"It would also appear sections have been lifted from previous America's Cup papers in a cut and paste exercise," Mr English says.

"The Minister must have known that Treasury would not approve the idea because it failed to meet the standards set for this kind of major taxpayer investment.

"It's ludicrous for him to say that he now plans to seek Treasury advice, when most believe the decision's already been made.

"What's worse, is that the Minister appears to have broken Cabinet rules," notes Mr English.

"Section 5.2 of the Cabinet Office Manual says that 'The Treasury must be consulted on all papers that contain recommendations on expenditure or revenue, or that have financial fiscal or economic implications.'

"It's not the first time this Government has ignored sound advice and it's unlikely to be the last," he says.

"There's absolutely no evidence in the papers to back up statements like those made by Helen Clark who said 'it's seen by the Government as a potential tourism and trade investment.'

"It's now clearer than ever that this was a badly judged, hasty commitment, but unfortunately for the taxpayer, it still stands," Mr English says.


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