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Clear rules for spending needed

Clear rules for spending needed

The Green Party has welcomed the tabling today of the Auditor-General's and Speaker's reports as a first step towards clarifying the rules on Parliamentary spending.

The Party's Musterer (Whip) Metiria Turei says the Green MPs have yet to meet and discuss the details of the final Auditor General's report and the Speaker's response to it.

"While we respect the Office of the Auditor General, we disagree with the Auditor General's reasoning and conclusions. We believe that his findings will make it more difficult for MPs to carry out their work for their constituents effectively.

"Obviously we are disappointed with the outcome, however, as we said earlier the six MPs and the Party will pay any money that is ultimately found to have been outside the rules. At this early stage it is still unclear whether there will be any legal challenge to the Auditor General's report from other parties, which could result in his having to amend his findings.

"For us an amount of $87,000 is a substantial sum and we will be writing to our members and supporters seeking some financial assistance. It is important to note that the Green Party will not have breached its election spending cap even if this amount were included in our total election expenditure.

"We have already said we will not be supporting any retrospective validating legislation, as we do not think this is the best way to clarify the rules. We will decide whether to oppose or abstain once we have seen any draft legislation.

"What is important is that there is a process put in place to make sure the rules are clarified for the next election. This could involve legislation. There is no point in the Auditor General going through this scrutinising process if MPs are only going to find themselves in the same position next time.

"The parties must work together to find a resolution that gives the public confidence that taxpayers' money is being spent appropriately and leaves all MPs able to carry out their duties and responsibilities as parliamentarians," Mrs Turei says.

"We are still adamant that the bulk of our spending was within the rules as we understood them, based on the Speaker's direction and Members' Handbook."

ends

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