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

"New Faces, Wise Heads": Andrew Little Announces New Labour Line Up

Labour Leader Andrew Little today announced a bold new caucus line up which brings forward new talent and draws on the party’s depth of experience.

“Labour has many new and highly capable MPs who will have the opportunity to prove their ability. At the same time our senior hands will be on deck to take the fight to the National-led Government and support our upcoming stars,” Andrew Little says.

“I am pleased to announce Annette King will be my deputy for the coming year. In recent weeks she has shown how crucial her wisdom and strength is to Labour. More>>

 

Parliament Today:

Gordon Campbell: On Rick Ellis As Te Papa’s New CEO

The recent appointment of former TVNZ boss Rick Ellis to head Te Papa has copped a fair bit of criticism. Much of it has been inspired by the suspicion that Ellis has been hired to pursue the same purely commercial goals as he did at TVNZ, while similarly neglecting the serious cultural side of his mandate. More>>

Passport Cancellation, Surveillance: Draft 'Foreign Fighters Legislation' Released

The final draft of the Countering Terrorist Fighters Legislation Bill contains proposals previously announced by Mr Key in a major national security speech earlier this month. More>>

ALSO:

Related

Joint Statement: Establishment Of NZ-China Strategic Partnership

At the invitation of Governor-General Lt Gen The Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae and Prime Minister The Rt Hon John Key of New Zealand, President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China made a state visit to New Zealand from 19 to 21 November 2014... More>>

ALSO:


Savings Targets: Health Procurement Plan Changes Direction

Next steps in implementing DHB shared services programme Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says the Government has agreed to explore a proposal put forward by DHBs to move implementation of the shared services programme to a DHB-owned vehicle. More>>

ALSO:

More on Health Policy:

Auckland Unification: 'No IT Cost Blowout' (Just More Expensive)

Following discussion of an update on Auckland Council’s Information Services Transformational Programme at today’s Finance and Performance Committee, council has released the report publicly. More>>

ALSO:

Other Expensive Things:

Gordon Campbell: On The SAS Role Against Islamic State, And Podemos

Only 25% of the US bombing runs are even managing to locate IS targets worth bombing. As the NYT explains at length, this underlines the need for better on-the-ground intelligence to direct the air campaign to where the bad guys have holed up... More>>

ALSO:

Public Service: Commission Calls For Answers On Handling Of CERA Harassment

EEO Commissioner Dr Jackie Blue is deeply concerned about the way in which the State Services Commission has handled sexual allegations made against CERA chief executive Roger Sutton this week and is calling for answers. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell:
On Andrew Little’s Victory

So Andrew Little has won the leadership – by the narrowest possible margin – from Grant Robertson, and has already been depicted by commentators as being simultaneously (a) the creature of the trade unions and (b) the most centrist of the four candidates, which would be an interesting trick to see someone try in a game of Twister. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Parliament
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news