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Health money spent on rugby tickets

Katherine Rich MP
National Party Spokeswoman

17 November 2005

Health money spent on rugby tickets

National Party MP Katherine Rich wants a better explanation from the Ministry about why health money was used to buy rugby tickets.

“I’m pleased that the Rural General Practice Network has agreed to pay back the $8,597.59, but I am concerned that neither the Ministry nor the Minister were aware of this misuse of funding until it was brought to their attention recently.”

Mrs Rich is commenting on an answer to a written Parliamentary question, in which the Health Minister confirms the use of Ministry funding for 10 tickets to see the All Blacks versus England rugby test in Wellington on 23 June 2003.

“They were clearly very good seats.

“On its website the Rural General Practice Network says it is ‘dedicated to representing the specific interests of rural health’.

“As much as we love watching the All Blacks, spending almost $10,000 on a rugby match for ten people doesn’t seem like a terribly effective way to attract locums to relieve overworked rural GPs.

“This spending was reported as ‘sponsorship’ in the annual report and I am pleased the group has accepted that the use of scarce health funding to buy rugby tickets is inappropriate.

“But I remain concerned at this misuse of taxpayer money. It may never have been uncovered unless it was ‘very recently’ brought to the Ministry’s attention.

“When Treasury is warning about profligate spending in the state sector, particularly in health, then this sort of waste only serves to illustrate its point,” says Mrs Rich.

ENDS

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