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National must reveal ambassador junket costs

National must reveal ambassador junket costs

Revelations of the scale and extent of lobbying to gain New Zealand a seat on the United Nations Security Council raise serious questions over cost and transparency, Labour Leader David Cunliffe says.

“While it is appropriate that the Government should pursue a bid for that seat, that doesn’t mean anything goes at any cost.

“New Zealanders have only learned that John Key has hosted fully-funded tours for some 60 diplomats because the Prime Minister’s media briefing was distributed by mistake.

“The Government has refused to release cost and other details. That’s wrong. New Zealanders are entitled to know what their hard-earned dollars are being spent on.

“Former New Zealand Ambassador to the UN Terence O'Brien says it is not standard practice to lavishly bring ambassadors to New Zealanders at taxpayer expense in an effort to win their votes for a Security Council seat.

“John Key must now disclose both the full costs and the details of the programme so Kiwis can be confident their money is being well spent.

“Labour believes our people matter most and that the public should be entitled to gauge whether the money spent on schmoozing diplomats stacks up against urgent matters such as moving 285,000 of our children out of poverty,’’ said David Cunliffe.

ends

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