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Independent probe needed in HNZ "conspiracy"

Phil Heatley
National Party Housing Spokesman

9 April 2006

Independent probe needed in HNZ “conspiracy of silence”

Housing New Zealand seems more concerned about covering up problems with its unbalanced books than accountability for millions of taxpayer dollars, says National's Housing spokesman, Phil Heatley.

He is responding to reports today that a former Housing New Zealand employee was paid $3,000 and asked to sign a contract preventing him from approaching politicians or the media about his concerns with the department's accounting practices.

Mr Heatley says this "conspiracy of silence" must be dealt with by a fully independent and transparent inquiry.

"Allegations of this nature need the disinfectant of sunlight. This must not be an internal snow job that fails to ask the tough questions or hold anyone to account.

"I am calling for this matter to be investigated by the Audit Office.

"It is not good enough for the new audit to be carried out the same auditors that have been working for Housing NZ while these practices have been in place."

Following the publishing of these accusations, Housing New Zealand stood down the senior executive accused of instigating the gagging order.

Mr Heatley says the Minister should be looking at other staff members, in light of reports that suggest the green light may have come right from the top.

"I will also be raising with the Chair of the Social Services Select Committee my concerns about accuracy of the Housing NZ annual financial review, which was only tabled last Thursday. The information presented by HNZ in the compilation of that report may well have been compromised "

ENDS

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