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Mayor questions Minister's hypocrisy

Mayor questions Minister's hypocrisy on 'thank you' to staff

Local Government Minister Rodney Hide shelled out taxpayers' money for champagne and camembert to celebrate the passing of final piece of legislation setting up the super city only to then write to Auckland councils urging them not to spend any ratepayers' money on similar celebrations, North Shore Mayor Andrew Williams said today.

"Rodney Hide wrote to me in late June questioning the spending of ratepayer money on such celebrations marking the passing of the old 21 year-in-existence councils and the establishment of the new council, in the full knowledge that he had already held a celebratory bash of his own only just a couple of weeks beforehand," Mayor Williams said.

"Now that this has been made public, it is only reasonable to conclude that the Minister didn't really mean what he wrote and that modest celebrations for council staff now have his blessing."

Mayor Williams acknowledged that Rodney Hide's celebratory office party was a modest affair costing around $350 for wine, beer, cheese and crackers, grapes and other nibbles, and a bunch of flowers, but said that it is the principle of the matter that is at issue here.

"Whether Rodney Hide spent three hundred or three thousand dollars is largely irrelevant, because he is the one who told councils that the 'best celebration' for council staff is for them to 'focus on making the new Auckland Council, its local boards and the CCO's (sic) the very best in New Zealand' rather than have a council staff celebration paid for by ratepayers," Mayor Williams said.

"I'm sure the thousands of council staff across the region who have worked long and hard to ensure a smooth transition to the new arrangements, on top of maintaining the high standards of everyday service that residents and ratepayers expect, will be somewhat surprised to learn that what their Minister says and what he does are often two different things."

"As Mayor of North Shore, I will certainly now be taking a second look at how best to acknowledge the professionalism and dedication of our staff during this difficult transition in a manner befitting the standard set by the Minister himself," Mayor Williams said.

Details of expenditure by the Minister of Local Government on his "Milestone function for the passing of the final piece of legislation for the new Auckland Council / Supercity" were released yesterday by the Department of Internal Affairs.

Mayor Williams said it was not clear from the information released whether there was any other expenditure incurred in relation to the Minister's office party, for example for any hot food provided by the Parliamentary caterers, or any additional alcohol or refreshments or suchlike, because the release only details expenditure on the Minister's taxpayer credit card.

ENDS

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