HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 582: 21 September 2011

Travel abuse complaint gets broadened to include spouses
Snow job on figures unacceptable

The Pitt Media Group’s complaint over the abusive travel overseas by Cabinet Ministers has been broadened, says Director Trevor Pitt. The complaint now seeks review of the entire previous financial year’s spending, and the provisions under the Civil List Act 2005 and Remuneration Tribunal Order 2009.
“The Government’s explanations so far look like a real snow job. It’s unacceptable,” says Pitt.
“Taxpayers should not have to tolerate the way figures are being lumped together in a generalized fashion, especially since we have all been asked to swallow a $29,000 bill so that the Prime Minister can swan around on a golf course for a week.”
A letter filed with the Audit Office on 13 September was subsequently handed over to the Public Expenditure Review Committee by Director Paul Allsworth. One week later, the Pitt Media Group has followed this up with a further letter providing more information to the Chair of the PERC, Marie Francis. The letter is reproduced here for the information of taxpayers.
The complaint basically adds two new dimensions. One is the request for PERC to broaden the review to include the overseas travel undertaken in the entire 2010/2011 fiscal year. The reason for that, says Pitt, is because the Government surprised everyone by revealing that there had been a savings of $80,000 in the Civil List allocation of $250,000.
“That means $170,000 got spent by someone and the public deserves to be informed who spent what.”
There should be a distinction between the previous government and the current government so that the people can make informed decisions about the spending performance of the Ministers.
A second aspect draws attention to the travel of spouses on overseas trips. The PMG complaint raises this issue in the context of the provisions under the Remuneration Tribunal Order 2009, which covers spouses travel.
The wording of the provisions says spouses are entitled to accompany the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, Ministers, the Speaker, and Leader of the Opposition on any overseas trip to represent the Cook Islands at an official state function, upon receiving an invitation, and with Cabinet’s approval.
Pitt is asking PERC to obtain all the documented invitations to state functions, as well as the mandatory Cabinet approvals. The complaint then points out that all overseas travel must be reconciled with the Clerk of Parliament within 30 days of return. - Peoplemedia

Herald Issue 554 09 March
- Norm exposes Trio of Doom
- Briefs from PM’s media conference Tuesday
- Tourism Industry ponders $5 million draft strategy
- Norman George resigns from Cook Islands Party
- Letter of Resignation from CIP
- Norman selfish says Prime Minister

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