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Clark ducks for cover on overspend

Gerry Brownlee MP National Party Deputy Leader

21 February 2006

Clark ducks for cover on overspend

National Party Deputy Leader Gerry Brownlee says the public will be deeply suspicious about Helen Clark's belated attempts to avoid answering Parliamentary questions on Labour's taxpayer-funded election overspending.

"Today, Helen Clark tried to claim she did not have responsibility for the way Labour's pledge cards were funded, even though the money was drawn from her Leader's fund and even though she has previously said she is prepared to be held accountable for the pledge card.

"This is a farce.

"If the Prime Minister does not have control over her Leader's fund who does?

"It beggars belief that neither the Prime Minister's chief of staff Heather Simpson nor Trevor Mallard raised the alarm on the pledge card overspend after meeting 'extensively' with the Auditor-General in the middle of last year.

"Earlier today, Helen Clark appeared to soften her position on whether she would repay the more than $440,000 spent on the pledge cards. She didn't rule out a repayment, simply saying it was a 'premature' question.

"It is far from premature. Two official bodies have now ruled that the pledge cards were an election expense. Helen Clark can't now duck for cover. Her name and signature are on the pledge cards and she is accountable for it.

"She should do the right thing and immediately pay the money back," says Mr Brownlee.

ENDS

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