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:

The Kids: OECD Report Shows Huge Impact Of Poverty On Education

A new report from the OECD has again highlighted the negative effects of poverty, showing that disadvantaged children in New Zealand are more than six times more likely to underachieve in maths than children from wealthier homes. More>>

ALSO:

Pacific: NZ Pledges $500,000 To Help Address Zika

“With the Zika virus now confirmed in a number of Pacific countries, New Zealand is committed to helping limit the impact and spread of the virus in the region,” says Mr McCully. “New Zealand will provide $250,000 as a contribution to the WHO to implement the Pacific Zika Action Plan, and a further $250,000 to enable countries in the region to respond rapidly if required." More>>

ALSO:

Labour: Police Commissioner 'Doesn’t Get Force Needs'

The Police Commissioner has let down the public and his own force by insisting the police have what they need despite it taking a year to solve a burglary and overwhelming number of officers saying they are under-resourced, says Labour’s Police spokesman Stuart Nash. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The US Pressure To Expand Our Role In Iraq

Foreign news services are being more forthcoming about what the “next 12 months” will entail – essentially, the defence ministers will be under US pressure to increase their “training” role preparatory to an assault on the city of Mosul in northern Iraq. More>>

ALSO:

Parliament Restarts: Prime Minister’s Statement

Our policy agenda and legislative programme will reflect the Government’s four priorities: • to responsibly manage the Government’s finances • to build a more competitive and productive economy • to deliver better public services to New Zealanders, an • to support the rebuilding of Christchurch. More>>

ALSO:

NZEI Survey Report: Special Needs Students Missing Out

The survey revealed that around 16 percent of students were on schools’ special needs registers, but nearly 90 percent of schools’ special needs coordinators did not believe there was adequate support for students and their learning... More>>

ALSO:

Interim Report: Waitangi Tribunal On Ture Whenua Legislation

Labour on Proposed changes to Maori land rules: “To have Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson dismiss findings as ‘bizarre’ is totally disingenuous and disrespectful. What’s bizarre is Maori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell stubbornly pushing through this Bill before the Waitangi Tribunal has even completed its report..." More>>

ALSO:

Spy Update: Appointment Of GCSB Acting Director

GCSB Chief Legal Advisor Lisa Fong will become the Acting Director of the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) from 15 February 2016, Minister Responsible for the GCSB Christopher Finlayson announced today. More>>

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Parliament
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news