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Minister Admits Flaws In Rugby League Grant Probe

Katherine Rich MP National Party Social Services Spokeswoman

31 August 2004

Minister admits flaws in rugby league grant probe

"The latest CEG report into a $19,000 grant to Aotearoa Rugby Football League is a whitewash," according to National Party Social Services spokeswoman Katherine Rich.

"The report is little more than a butt-covering exercise by the Government which fails to answer fundamental questions like: How was the money spent? Was a business plan really produced? How come the lion's share of the grant went to a totally different organisation?

"A key objective of the audit of the grant awarded to Aotearoa Rugby Football League was to identify that it "applied the grant funding in accordance with approved purposes and in accordance with the terms and conditions of the funding".

"Only the ARFL can prove funding was appropriately used, but the auditors didn't talk to them. The fact that ARFL representatives weren't interviewed is plain weird and calls into question the validitly of the whole report.

"The report notes that none of the regional affiliates who were supposed to receive mentoring as a result of the project were spoken to either. This is the sort of audit the Government gets done when it doesn't want the real answers.

"I asked Steve Maharey in Parliament today whether he thought it was unusual that the auditors had not spoken to anyone from the ARFL. He agreed, but typically he has indicated he will do no further investigations on behalf of the public.

"That is an insult to taxpaying New Zealanders who expect accountability and transparency when it comes to the spending of their money.

"Perhaps Mr Maharey is nervous about the Labour Party connection to ARFL? The organisation's chairman is a senior Labour Party figure. Te Ao Associates, a company owned by the chairman and his wife, received the lion's share of the $19,000 grant.

"A once-over lightly will not do. The Government wants funding issues swirling around CEG to slide off the agenda, but National believes the public deserves to know their money's being properly spent," says Mrs Rich.

Ends

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