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

Gordon Campbell: On Bill English, Abroad

Looks like you need to get the blurb yourself. Probably best to do that irrespective, actually.If David Cameron was the closest thing John Key had to a political mentor, their successors also share a whole lot in common.

Theresa May and Bill English were both propelled into the top jobs as the result of unexpected resignations, and without much in the way of credible competition from their colleagues. Neither have yet been given a mandate to govern by the electorate although – in both countries – the Labour opposition is in less than robust shape. More>>

 

Pike River: Labour Bill To Override Safety Act For Mine Entry

“Bill English has been hiding behind the legal excuse that any attempt to re-enter the mine to recover the bodies might place the mine’s owner, Solid Energy Limited, and its directors in breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015." More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Populism And Labour 2017

For many people on the centre-left, populism is a dirty word, and a shorthand for the politics of bigotry. In this country, it has tended to be equated with the angry legions of New Zealand First. Who knew they were not just a reactionary spasm, but the wave of the future? More>>

Oxfam: 30% Of NZ Owns Less Wealth Than Our Two Richest Men

The research also reveals that the richest one per cent have 20 per cent of the wealth in New Zealand, while 90 per cent of the population owns less than half of the nation’s wealth. The research forms part of a global report released to coincide with this week’s annual meeting of political and business leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. More>>

ALSO:

Hospitals: Resident Doctors Set To Strike Again

Despite discussions between the DHBs and NZRDA over safer hours for resident doctors progressing during the last week, the strike planned for next week appears set to proceed. More>>

ALSO:

Not So Super Fund: More Burning Ethical Questions For Steven Joyce

Greens: Radio New Zealand reported this morning that the New Zealand Superfund has $77 million invested in 47 coal companies that the Norwegian Government’s Pension Fund – the largest sovereign fund in the world – has blacklisted. More>>

Activism: Greenpeace Intercepts World’s Biggest Seismic Oil Ship

Greenpeace crew have made contact with the world’s biggest seismic oil ship after travelling 50 nautical miles on two rigid-hulled inflatables off the coast of Wairarapa... Greenpeace radioed the master of the Amazon Warrior to deliver an open letter of protest signed by over 60,000 New Zealanders. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: Why Tax Cuts In 2017 Would Be A (Proven) Bad Idea

Ever since the world fell prey to the mullahs of the free market in the 1980s, no amount of real world evidence has managed dispel one key tenet of their economic faith. Namely, the idea that if you cut income taxes and taxes on small business, a wave of individual enterprise and entrepreneurial energy will thus be unleashed, profits will rise and – hey bingo! – the tax cuts will soon be paying for themselves ... More>>

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
More RSS  RSS
 
 
 
Parliament
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news