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Law Commission squanders $600,000

Law Commission squanders $600,000 on travel, accommodation

The Law Commission is squandering close to $600,000 over five years on travel and accommodation for its out of town commissioners.

Green MP Rod Donald, who this year has revealed overspending in the Lotteries Commission, Work and Income NZ and the Casino Control Authority, today revealed the Law Commission was flying two commissioners, who reside in Auckland, to and from Wellington on a regular basis.

The costs were revealed in an answer from Justice Minister Tony Ryall to a written question from Mr Donald.

Mr Donald understands the travel and accommodation are for full-time commissioner Donald Dugdale, who has a five-year contract, and part-time commissioner Denise Henare, who is married to National MP Wayne Mapp.

The written answer shows commission travel costs in the past two years were $162,506 and accommodation costs in the past two years were $73,476. Over a five-year period this adds up to close to $600,000.

Mr Donald said the spending was grossly extravagant and he challenged Tony Ryall's defence of it.

"It's another example of wasting taxpayers' money. The rules should be changed so fulltime appointees should have to move to Wellington when the cost of relocating is less than the cost of paying weekly travel and accommodation.

"I am appalled that Tony Ryall has come out defending this spending. If it was Cook Strait ferry crews being flown to Wellington from around the country, as used to happen, he would be jumping up and down about it.

"If Ryall thinks this is acceptable expenditure, what other spending has he okayed that the public don't know about? I want this issue looked at after the election and all crown entities and similar agencies investigated to see if similar spending is going on elsewhere.

"Clearly there is a lack of scrutiny and accountability."

Mr Donald said he had the greatest respect for the work of the Law Commission but it was inappropriate for long-term commissioners to have such extravagant conditions in their contracts.


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