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Where there’s smoke…

Where there’s smoke…

“The Internal Affairs Minister must shoulder some responsibility for presiding over a taxpayer budget that is too easily ripped-off by con-artists,” says National Party Social Services spokeswoman Katherine Rich.

Mrs Rich is commenting on reports that a departmental investigation is expected to lead to charges being laid against 32 community groups which were ‘established’ in order to fleece the taxpayer of grants money.

The Community Organisation Grants scheme distributes around $12 million annually.

“Given the Government’s cavalier attitude to public spending, you’d expect that the $150,000 uncovered in this audit is the tip of the iceberg.

“It’s simply not good enough for Internal Affairs to divorce itself of responsibility and claim ‘victim’ status.

“The department is clearly guilty of handing out significant taxpayer funding for programmes with vague objectives, minimal monitoring and poor reporting procedures.

”What else do Internal Affairs Minister George Hawkins and the Government expect when they adopt such a casual attitude to spending our money?

“Mr Hawkins should tell us what, if anything, his department has learned from this investigation and whether specific changes are being made to the funding criteria.

“He should assure New Zealand taxpayers that he is on top of this significant portfolio and that his department has done everything in its power to avoid becoming a ‘victim’ at our expense again,” says Mrs Rich.

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