Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search

 


London calling – but at what cost?

London calling – but at what cost?

New Zealand taxpayers have forked out $445,000 in rent for Lockwood Smith to live in rented accommodation largely because he or Foreign Affairs felt the $11 million official residence was “inadequate”, Labour’s Associate Foreign Affairs spokesperson Phil Goff says.

The former speaker took up his High Commissioner post in London in February 2013.

“However Dr Smith never moved into the official High Commissioner’s residence in Clareville Street, choosing instead to rent another property in the area at a cost of £4000 or $7500 a week.

“The total cost to the taxpayer of that is $445,000 in avoidable rent over the year, enough to employ half a dozen local staff at the High Commission for a year.

“In response to written questions the Ministry has gone to great lengths to point out the property supposedly had ‘limited representational functionality’ – presumably it was not suitable for functions - that it needed security, fire safety glazing and air conditioning work, and that work on a property next door would have been disruptive to the High Commissioner.

“To put it bluntly, that is nonsense. Receptions are always held in the penthouse at New Zealand House, which is centrally located in the Haymarket with spectacular 360º views over London, ensuring receptions there are always popular.The residence is under 10 years old and there were never any complaints from the previous three High Commissioners, plus the High Commissioner does not spend week days working from home.

“A select committee was told today that the property has now been sold for £5.6 million pounds or around $11million. It is hard to believe that such a property could be ‘inadequate’. It is even harder to accept that spending $445,000 on renting another property while the one the Ministry owned remained empty, was the best use of the taxpayer dollar.

“At a time when Foreign Affairs staff were being put through the mincer in a money-saving restructure the extravagance around the High Commissioner’s residence is extraordinary.”


ends

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

 

PARLIAMENT TODAY:

"Gutted" Safety Bill: Time To Listen To Workplace Victims’ Families

Labour has listened to the families of whose loved ones have been killed at work and calls on other political parties to back its proposals to make workplaces safer and prevent unnecessary deaths on the job. More>>

ALSO:

Regulators: Govt To ‘Crowd-Source’ Regulatory Advice

A wide-ranging set of reforms is to be implemented to shake up the way New Zealand government agencies develop, write and implement regulations. More>>

ALSO:

Board Appointments: Some Minister Appoint Less The 3 In 10 Women

“It’s 2015 not 1915: Ministers who appoint less than 3 in 10 women to their boards must do better, they have no excuse but to do better,” said Dr Blue. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The 1990s Retro Proposals For Our Health System

As we learned yesterday, the reviews propose that the democratically elected representation on DHBs should be reduced, such that community wishes will be able to be over-ridden by political appointees. In today’s revelations, the reviews also propose a return to the destructive competitive health model of the 1990s. More>>

ALSO:

Post-Cab Press Conference: Foreign Buyers Register, TPP And Serco

At a press conference today in Wellington, John Key discussed the foreign buyers register as well as the TPP and Serco. Key was questioned on whether a stamp tax might be used as a tool to deal with foreign buyers. More>>

ALSO:

Lyndon Hood Satire: Serco To Outsource Prison To Public Sector

In response to high-profile failings, multinational omnicorporation Serco will introduce public management in its prison system. Serco's New Zealand manager, speaking on condition of anonymity, has announced plans for managers from the Department of Corrections to run the Mt Eden Correctional Facility. More>>

National Party Conference: Plans To Nudge Immigrants Towards Regions

The Government will introduce a package of immigration measures aimed at improving the spread of workers, skills and investment across New Zealand, Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse says. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Parliament
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news