HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 581: 14 September 2011

Insert Text HereGovernment slack in responding to media concerns over travel

The Government has failed to respond to media concerns over the level of overseas trips and costs of travel to the taxpayers despite the holding of a “special meeting” of the Cabinet today to discuss the subject.
Prime Minister Henry Puna issued an excuse yesterday during his press briefing, saying that he did not have enough time to consult with the Cabinet. However, the special meeting had been agreed to and the disclosure of travel costs was going to be discussed. Puna said he had already spoken to the Clerk of Parliament but needed to talk to the cabinet about the way forward.
By the afternoon of Wednesday however, there was no indication of any outcomes of the “special meeting” to the Pitt Media Group. The continued stalling on the part of the Prime Minister has not satified any concerns already raised. These concerns have now been articulated in an official complaint to the Director of Audit.
The complaint from the Pitt Media Group was filed yesterday after a poor attitude reflected by the Cabinet about the amount of overseas trips taken without any real accountability as to costs.
A response was received from the Director of Audit today, which is reproduced here for readers, along with the complaint.

Reply from Director of Audit

Dear Trevor,
Thank you for email. I acknowledge and accept your complaint.
Due to the high public interest and public expenditure involved in this matter, I have passed this matter onto the Public Expenditure Review Committee for their comment and review. I have also passed this complaint onto Crown Law for the Solicitor General’s respective legal opinion, on the matter.
As you are well aware, the authority for full disclosure of all Civil List travel (POBOC) rests with the Minister of Finance. In due course, I will be meeting with the Minister of Finance on this matter.
Kind Regards,
Paul Allsworth,
Director of Audit

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