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Ministry contracting practices need urgent review

Dr Jackie Blue MP
National Party Associate Health Spokeswoman

19 November 2006

Ministry contracting practices need urgent review

It has become abundantly clear that the Government's contracting practices need urgent reviewing, says National Party Associate Health spokeswoman Dr Jackie Blue.

She is commenting on a media report today that a company run by a Tongan businessman with Labour Party connections got hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars in Winz contracts - despite two of his companies being liquidated with unpaid taxes of more than $100,000.

"For some time, National has had serious concerns with the Ministry of Health's contracting practices," says Dr Blue.

"One example of this is the contract the ministry has with the Women's Health Action Trust, run by former Labour Party Women's vice president Jo Fitzpatrick.

"In June last year the trust was awarded an un-tendered contract worth more than $300,000 for 'women's health and breastfeeding advocacy and promotion'.

"The contract, which ends in June 2008, is well outside the ministry's own contracting guidelines, which states that a fully competitive process should be followed for contracts above $25,000.

"Another case in point is the ministry's three-year $1.8 million national depression initiative with advertising agency FCB. Answers to questions at last week's health select committee reveal $800,000 of that contract was un-tendered.

"My colleague, National MP Jonathan Coleman, told that select committee that despite an Auditor-General's report being critical of un-tendered contracts, the ministry paid out $13.1 million in un-tendered contracts in the 2005-06 financial year.

"The time has come for Pete Hodgson and the ministry accept it has a huge responsibility when using taxpayers' money, and all care must be taken to ensure the public gets the best value for money.

"If contracts worth several hundred thousand dollars aren't tendered, taxpayers are not certain of getting best value for money."


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