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Wananga: Auditor-General casts doubts over audits

Hon Bill English National Party Education Spokesman

15 March 2006

Wananga: Auditor-General casts doubts over own audits

Labour's slack oversight in the te Wananga o Aotearoa funding scandal has been underscored today with startling admissions from the Auditor-General, says National's Education spokesman, Bill English.

"The Auditor-General has raised doubts about the validity of his own audits of the Wananga's financial statements over the past four years."

The Auditor-General told a Parliamentary select committee that Deloittes has 'agreed to withdraw' from its contract to audit the wananga on behalf of the Office of the Auditor-General.

In 2002, Labour appointed Graeme McNally, a partner at Deloittes, as its watchdog at the wananga. Deloittes is the same accounting firm that, in the 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003 financial years gave the wananga a clean bill of financial health on behalf of the Auditor-General.

The Auditor-General also indicated at the meeting there may be problems with the wananga's audits for the 2003 and 2004 years.

The 2003-year included the time covered by the Auditor-General's report to Parliament which said some of the institution's major transactions were questionable.

The financial statements for 2004 are now months overdue.

"Labour put the Auditor-General in an impossible situation, forcing the office to be both player and referee," says Mr English.

"Late last year, a report to Parliament said the 'inquiry into Te Wananga o Aotearoa found practices that are unacceptable for a public entity'.

"Labour should have acted far sooner to sort out the conflict of interest and protect the high standard of accountability which is expected of tax-funded institutions.

"The Auditor-General ought to act now to clear up uncertainty about the financial statements for the past four years," says Mr English.

ENDS

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