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HNZ hush money report only the start

Phil Heatley MP
National Party Housing Spokesman

9 June 2006

HNZ hush money report only the start

National Party Housing spokesman Phil Heatley says the report into allegations of financial cover-ups and hush money being paid to employees at HNZ should be only the start of a wider select committee probe.

“This is not a clean bill of health. The report’s identified lax accounting processes, criticised an ‘inappropriate’ gagging order and confirmed that the chief executive gave the pay-off a personal nod of approval. Something smells and this should be the beginning of a much broader process.

“There can be no good reason for senior managers of a taxpayer-owned business to buy a staff member’s silence. Will anyone take responsibility?”

Mr Heatley is commenting on the Auditor-General’s report into Housing New Zealand following a whistleblower’s allegations of creative accounting and tight confidentiality clauses in his exit contract.

The report also cited concerns about management reporting practices in the agency's national property improvement team.

“The Auditor-General confirms this was a deliberately narrow inquiry about the specific allegations made by a former contractor. Even so, there are some worrying conclusions, and internally HNZ doesn’t look that tidy,” says Mr Heatley.

“The matter can’t lie here. There are still unanswered questions about the culture within HNZ. Have confidentiality clauses been used in the past? Have other staff have faced difficulty when raising the alarm on internal issues?

“Only at the weekend, another HNZ manager complained that he felt he had come up against a brick wall when he questioned internal processes.

“The gaps in this report must be filled and fixed by a wider select committee review. The information provided by the Auditor-General provides a useful starting point, but it is just a starting point,” says Mr Heatley.

ENDS

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