Whanau Ora the Government continue funding an organisation accused of fraud?
A Maori women’s refuge is still receiving taxpayer funding despite an audit report showing evidence of fraud, parliament has been told.
NZ First leader Winston Peters says Te Roopu Whakaruruhau o Nga Wahine in Palmerston North has had its $80,000 a year Government contract renewed through to June 2015, and he wants to know why.
“The audit report shows this refuge was a family money-generating scheme – five of the eight workers are direct family, it’s been their gravy train,” he said. “Why have no charges been laid when the word `fraud’ is screaming from the audit report – in fact it has a sub-heading titled `fraud’.” Mr Peters says the audit report for the year ended June 2011 shows:
- Family members paid their fines with public money
- They overpaid themselves for leave
- They travelled overseas on the taxpayer
- They paid themselves bonuses
- They did not pay GST for several years.
Ministers are claiming ignorance and ducking for cover. Paula Bennett:
Ms Bennett says she would need to see evidence of the alleged fraud and if it has happened she would expect the department to take the appropriate action.
And Tariana Turia:
Mrs Turia told Radio New Zealand that while she was aware the refuge had problems she had been kept in the dark about the fraud allegations until Mr Peters revealed them on Wednesday.
It’s not acceptable for the government to keep funding a service provider after fraud has been clearly reported. It’s not acceptable for a Minister to be aware of “problems” and not even read the audit report before allocating further funding. This was all predicable, and we’ve been here before.
It’s a great pity when a small number of cases like this discredit and throw suspicion on a programme that is doing good work in other areas. But when Ministers are this negligent it is fair to ask how many other cases like this are there out there? And what is the government going to do to hold Ministers to account?