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Govt ducking questions on Winz debacle


The Government appears determined to duck Parliamentary questions on the Auditor-General's inquiry into the Work and Income NZ chartered aircraft affair, says Labour's social welfare spokesperson Steve Maharey.

Winz spent $165,000 getting 105 staff to a conference at Wairakei in June on a mixture of chartered and commercial flights.

Although the Office of the Auditor-General aimed to table its report on Tuesday, enabling questions about it in Parliament, a staff member said this morning the report was now unlikely to be tabled until next week.

"Tuesday's Question Time is expected to be the last for 1999, because the House is due to go into urgency for the rest of the week and then rise for the year.

"We know a final draft of the report has been circulating amongst affected parties for at least a week. Clearly those being consulted are delaying it longer than the Auditor-General's office anticipated.

"Delaying the tabling of the report until next week would clearly suit the Government, which does not want to take responsibility for the culture of extravagance it has fostered in Winz. Labour says it's time to front up."

Mr Maharey also wants the Government to table former Chief Ombudsman Sir John Robertson's report on the performance of Winz chief executive Christine Rankin in relation to the chartered aircraft affair and other matters.

The report was done for State Services Commissioner Michael Wintringham, who has refused to release it. Labour has asked for an Ombudsman's review of that refusal.

"We're still waiting for a proper explanation of how Winz senior managers were able to run wild with public money. Public trust and confidence in the department has been seriously eroded. The situation won't improve until ministers and the department come clean."

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