INDEPENDENT NEWS

$500,000 Waste Shows Contempt for Taxpayers

Published: Mon 16 Jul 2001 09:39 AM
$500,000 Waste Shows Clark's Contempt for Taxpayers
Sunday, July 15 2001
Abhorrence at the Labour Government's waste of half a million dollars to protect Trevor Mallard, Steve Maharey and Helen Clark will not be abated by glib assurances that this is an 'in house cost', ACT MP Dr Muriel Newman said today.
"The Government is displaying the same gross disrespect to New Zealand taxpayers as it did to Christine Rankin. I had to ask several Parliamentary Questions in order to get the Government's legal costs in the Christine Rankin case finally revealed. The true bill to date exceeds half a million dollars:
Crown Law: 241 111
Senior Counsel: 107 026
Sir Geoffrey Palmer: 6 200
Ministerial Staff Legal Fees: 7 255
SSC Time/Costs: 84 055
GST: 55 705
TOTAL: $ 501 352
"These costs are not 'in house' or 'notional'. The Government has dished out half a million dollars in time and money protecting the three Ministers who went to extraordinary lengths to get rid of Ms Rankin. They can't hide that fact with half-truths or spin.
"The political interests of Helen Clark and her cronies have been put ahead of the rights of New Zealand taxpayers.
"They even paid ex-Labour politician Geoffrey Palmer $400 an hour to act as an 'expert witness'.
"The Government spent this sum despite Ms Rankin and her lawyer making it blatantly clear that litigation was a last resort.
"With Mrs Rankin's expected pay-out, the final cost to the taxpayer could be well over a million dollars.
"If the court finds, even partly, in Ms Rankins favour, the Prime Minister must be accountable for the $500,000 spent looking after the Labour Party.
"Current efforts to distort the true cost to the taxpayer are as abhorrent and contemptible as the spending itself," Dr Newman said.
Ends

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