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Fivefold increase in hui budget hidden

Phil Heatley MP National Party Housing Spokesman

15 August 2006

Fivefold increase in hui budget hidden from scrutiny

"After a massive rise in the Housing New Zealand budget for 'hui and fono' last year, the corporation is unable to say how much was actually spent," says National Party Housing spokesman Phil Heatley.

"And even though they don't know how much was spent last year, they've been able to estimate the budget for the coming year. What is going on?"

Mr Heatley says he's doubly suspicious, because in the 2004/05 year Housing New Zealand was able to say how much was spent on hui for the Maori staff network and fono for the Pacific staff network.

"These were publicly available figures last year. What's changed?"

Answers to the social service select committee show that in 2004/05 $9,100 was spent on hui and $12,144.23 was spent on fono. The Budget for 2005/06 forecast a massive increase.

"The amount of taxpayer money spent on hui was expected to grow five-fold to $45,000 while the amount set aside for fono tripled to $30,000.

"When asked for precise spending details, Chris Carter said he couldn't be bothered finding out whether the hui and fono costs came in on budget.

"Yet remarkably, HNZ has been able to estimate how much it will spend in the coming year, having set aside $20,000 for two hui and $25,000 for two fono this year.

"How can you estimate the costs for the next year, when you don't know how much you spent the year before?

"This slack record keeping is just what we've come to expect from HNZ. In answering my questions the Minister even had to correct one of the answers his department gave to the select committee.

"If the Minister can't be bothered keeping proper tabs on an $11 billion taxpayer asset, perhaps he should move aside for someone who gives a damn," says Mr Heatley.

ENDS

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