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19 September  2008

$900 million worth of contracts: all secret By Ian Wishart

There are growing calls for New Zealand to adopt an Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), amid claims that hundreds of millions of dollars worth of taxpayer funded contracts are being let each year with no checks on whether officials are collecting kick-backs. Civil rights activist Penny Bright, whose Water Pressure Group – despite being left wing – has taken more of a principled stand on public issues than an ideological one, is trying to drum up support for an ICAC because of growing questions about possible corruption in the awarding of public tenders. “Who is checking these contracts? Who is awarding these contracts? There’s no examination of potential links between the people tendering for contracts and the officials who award them,”Bright told TGIF Edition ahead of a meeting with Federated Farmers to garner support. “These contracts are costing taxpayers and ratepayers huge amounts of money, but there’s no oversight.” As an example, Bright cites the problem she’s having getting information about nearly $900 million worth of contracts awarded by the Auckland City Council. “The Auckland City Council CEO will not tell us where exactly over $855,000,000 ($855 million) of public ratepayers monies are being spent on contracts to the private sector for goods, services and people. “$855,000,000 is 8550 times more than the $100,000 Owen Glenn donation, which has received such huge publicity. How about a sense of proportion being applied here? Or is the public just regarded as a giant cash cow, blindfolded and hog-tied – to be financially milked to death?”challenged Bright. For Bright, who’s no stranger to locking horns with the Auckland City Council and being thrown out of council meetings, it’s about basic public accountability. “I believe that ratepayers are entitled to know where our public rates monies are going.” CLIENT But her callPUBLICATION for an Independent Commission 099684370 COVER DATE(S) TRIM SIZE Against Corruption may fall on deaf ears given Mistral Software Investigate

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the government’s refusal to investigate extremely serious allegations of police corruption, or set up an inquiry into them. And TGIF Edition’s revelation last month – that the ‘investigation’ into allegations that Deputy Police Commissioner Rob Pope lied on oath in the Scott

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Watson case may have been compromised because the police officer conducting the ‘investigation’was himself being adversely referred to in an Independent Police Conduct Authority report – is a further sign that New Zealand’s public service is in no fit state to face ICAC inquiries.

Greymouth, Sept 19 – Veteran West Coast whitebait buyer Colin McKinney today scoffed at an academic’s claims that the resource is under threat from over fishing. Massey University researcher Dr Mike Joy this week called for a ban on the sale of whitebait because he believed the catch was preventing bait getting to the spawning grounds. But Mr McKinney said nothing had changed in the 50 years since he caught his first feed of whitebait on the Clutha River 50 years ago. “I’d love to know where these guys get their facts and figures from. “You have good seasons and bad seasons -- things come in cycles.” Mr McKinney said there was historic evidence that in the pre-European days Maori sometimes had to look for another food source because of a poor whitebait season. “I have been buying bait for 30 years, and have fished for it commercially,and little has changed over this time except that the number of people catching the fish has increased all out of proportion.” Once, when there would be one or two stands on a South Westland river they would be getting a tonne a day.That tonne of bait is still coming but it’s being shared by about 80 people now.” But Mr McKinney agreed with Dr Joy that polluted waterways from dairy farming could be threatening east coast breeding grounds. – NZPA

Clark outlines Schools Plus details Wellington – All under-18-year-olds will have to be in some form of education or training from 2014, Prime Minister Helen Clark announced today. Miss Clark used a campaign trail visit to Waitakere’s Massey High School to give further details of the Government’s Schools Plus programme, which she first outlined in January. She also announced a four-year $40 million funding package for the initial phases of the policy. Under the programme, expected to cost $150m a year once fully implemented, all youths under 18 would eventually have to be in some form of training. Students leaving school would have to either go into other training, or if they took up a job would have to do that in conjunction with an apprenticeship or qualification. Miss Clark said under the policy the school leaving age would remain at 16, but in 2011 an“education and training age”of 17 would be introduced. It would move to 18 in 2014. By 2011 all students would have an “education Miss Clark said the policy would mean extra supplan” developed with the help of career advisers port would be needed for teachers, schools, and other and teachers. training providers. She said the aim of Schools Plus was to tackle The package announced today includes: the 34 percent of students who left school without $11.7m towards developing a careers guidance level two NCEA. package to be available in all secondary schools “Senior secondary schooling will be transformed over the next two years; so that staying at school, gaining relevant quali$21m to enable more students to study for tertifications, and building on qualifications beyond ary qualifications at school; school, will become the accepted norm over time,” $6m to explore innovative programmes aimed Miss Clark said. at meeting Schools Plus goals; The Government has already introduced legislation providing more pre-employment education and axing school leaving exemptions for those under 16. training for those under 18 years with no or few The current school leaving age is 16, but large qualifications while they are still at school; numbers of 15-year-olds have been granted exemp$1 million for a pilot secondary-tertiary protions in recent years so they could move into jobs gramme at the Manukau Institute of Technology. or other training. – NZPA

TGIF Edition 19 September 2008  

full content

TGIF Edition 19 September 2008  

full content