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MP seeks to widen Converge ‘05 conference inquiry

MP seeks to widen Converge ‘05 conference inquiry

National Party MP David Carter wants an Auditor-General’s inquiry into the Converge ’05 Conference widened to examine the involvement of the Christchurch City Council.

“In an answer to a Parliamentary Written Question, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise say that only 84 people attended the conference. Did ratepayers get value for their $500,000 contribution?” asks Mr Carter.

National MP Katherine Rich has already called on the Auditor-General to undertake an inquiry into the process by which New Zealand Trade and Enterprise granted $250,000 to Converge ‘05.

Mr Carter wants that investigation extended to cover other aspects, including a possible conflict of interest, discrepancies in the reporting of how many attended, and differences of opinion about who actually recommended the ratepayer-funded grant.

“Some $750,000 of public money was tied up in these two grants alone. I think we need some answers,” says Mr Carter.

In his letter, Mr Carter says: “Recent media coverage has suggested the Christchurch City Council and Canterbury Development Corporation may see fit to repeat the Converge Conference.

“I would be concerned if such a decision was made before the Audit Office has had the opportunity to confirm the appropriateness of all previous ratepayer expenditure on this exercise.”

Katherine Rich earlier said NZTE needed to explain what was achieved from sinking $250,000 into the Converge ‘05 conference, held last October.

“I can’t fathom why money was spent on sending the convenor to the UK to recruit international participants when not one overseas recruit was secured,” she said.

Ends

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