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Special Debate Needed on Armstrong Audit

Media Statement Hon Murray McCully MP and Rodney Hide MP

18 December 2003

Special Debate Needed on Armstrong Audit

A special debate is being sought on the Auditor General's report into Dr Ross Armstrong when Parliament resumes in February, by the two MP's who originally raised the matter.

ACT MP Rodney Hide and National MP Murray McCully say the report, which will be delivered tomorrow, (three days after Parliament has risen for the year) will examine payments made to Dr Armstrong across three Crown organisations - Television New Zealand, NZ Post and Industrial Research Ltd.

The Auditor General started his inquiry a year ago.

Murray McCully and Rodney Hide say the circumstances behind the report are "truly extraordinary" and that "it can only be damning in its content."

But, they say, "the real lessons will not lie in the report, but in the political background to it.

"The extraordinary tale which the media will be told tomorrow was only possible because Dr Armstrong enjoyed a level of Prime Ministerial patronage which is unprecedented in this country.

"We know from our discussions with his fellow directors and senior management that he was regarded as untouchable as a consequence of his close relationship to Helen Clark.

"We confidently predict that the Prime Minister will have little to say about this matter tomorrow, and that she will be enormously relieved that the Auditor General's report comes three days after Parliament has finished and nearly two months before it sits again.

"But we are serving notice now, that we are demanding a special debate on this report when Parliament resumes. Helen Clark owes Parliament some answers," they say.

Ends

Note: the Auditor General's report will be available on his website tomorrow after 2 p.m.

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