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Clark's gaffe over AG shows she's losing her grip

Don Brash MP National Party Leader

22 September 2006

Clark's gaffe over AG shows she's losing her grip

National Party Leader Don Brash says Helen Clark is losing her grip after getting it wrong over what the Auditor-General is supposed to have told political parties.

"The Auditor-General has totally rejected Helen Clark's claim that he supports Labour's plan to pass legislation validating unlawful election campaign spending.

"Helen Clark has already attacked the integrity of the Auditor-General, an independent officer of Parliament whose job is to impartially monitor the appropriateness of government spending.

"After reviewing election spending by all the parties, his draft findings showed most had breached the rules governing Parliamentary Service appropriations. No one believes the pledge card was anything other than election spending.

"National paid back $10,588 after the Auditor-General said some of its MPs had transgressed. But Helen Clark and Labour, instead of paying back the money they owe, embarked on a massive distraction campaign.

"In the end, though, the public will see through this. Labour needs to pay the money back.

"Meanwhile, evidence presented in a court case against Helen Clark suggests Labour bullied Parliamentary Service into making Labour's pledge card payment - which the service rightly resisted because it was against the rules."

Dr Brash is referring to a terse letter from Helen Clark's chief of staff, Heather Simpson, to the service on 17 November demanding that 'the payments are made without further delay'.

"Labour has previously argued that the service approved such payments. But Heather Simpson's letter seems to contradict that claim," says Dr Brash.

"Labour should release the full letter and other correspondence with the service."


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