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Government watchdog had conflict of interest

Hon Bill English National Party Education Spokesman

7 December 2005

Government watchdog had conflict of interest

National's Education spokesman, Bill English, says the Labour Government paid close to $130,000 to a senior advisor with a conflict of interest over te Wananga o Aotearoa.

In 2002, Labour appointed Graeme McNally as its watchdog at the wananga.

Mr McNally is a partner at Deloittes - the same accounting firm that, in the 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003 financial years, gave the wänanga a clean bill of financial health.

Deloittes carried out the audit of the wänanga under delegation from the Auditor-General, who is required by statute to audit the financial accounts of the wänanga.

In Parliament today, Tertiary Education Minister Michael Cullen confirmed that when the conflict of interest was discovered, Mr McNally's employment was terminated.

It appears the conflict went unacknowledged by Government ministers and officials for more than two years.

"This raises serious questions about the procedures used by Labour in managing conflicts of interest, and comes on top of officials failing to recognise a significant conflict of interest at Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology involving a senior staff member," says Mr English.

He says he will ask the State Services Commissioner to investigate whether there are further conflicts of interest among the government's advisors in the tertiary sector.

ENDS

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