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Minister backs Pacific awareness day

Nick Smith National Party Building & Construction Spokesman

11 August 2005

Minister backs Pacific awareness day for leaky homes staff

Leaky home owners will be sickened that Building Minister Chris Carter is defending the Weathertight Homes Resolution Service over spending $6,679 on a Pacific awareness day at the Crown Plaza Hotel, says National's Building spokesman, Nick Smith.

In answer to written Parliamentary questions, Building Minister Chris Carter has confirmed that nine Wellington staff flew to Auckland at a cost of $4,195.55 to participate in a Pacific Island awareness day on 17 June 2005 at the Crown Plaza Hotel. The total cost of hotel accommodation, food, entertainment and a kava drinking ceremony was $6,679, or $393 for each of the 19 staff.

The Minister, in response to a written question asking how such a day would help resolve leaky home problems replies: "Raising staff knowledge of Pacific Island or any other cultures can assist WHRS claims management staff deal with people from diverse backgrounds and be more effective in providing services to those who may be affected by leaky home issues."

"This PC garbage from the Minister is disgraceful," says Dr Smith.

"There is no evidence that Pacific Island people have a particular problem with leaky homes.

"If spending $493 per staff member on a Pacific Island awareness day can be justified for an agency set up to fix leaky homes, it could be justified for every one of New Zealand's 200,000 public servants.

"This waste of public money is inexcusable from an agency that has resolved only 10% of leaky home claims since it was established three years ago.

"Mr Carter should be apologising for this wasteful extravagance, not defending it. There can be no justification for having WHRS staff kava drinking and hula dancing at a five star hotel for a day while leaky homes are rotting."

ENDS

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