Minister not told of refuge's troubles

  • 27/06/2012

Whanau Ora Minister Tariana Turia is demanding answers from Government officials after she was not alerted to serious issues with a women's refuge accused in Parliament of fraud.

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, despite an audit report showing evidence of fraud.

He told Parliament it was funded under the Whanau Ora Maori welfare scheme and asked why no one had been charged.

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.

"One would have hoped that the alert would have come across from the department and that we wouldn't have to hear about it in the house," she said.

Mrs Turia says she will be seeking an explanation why she was not told of the seriousness of the refuge's problems.

"I wasn't in any way informed that there were improper practices."

"They (Family and Community Services) need to explain to me why it was that when they clearly knew in 2011 that there were issues that they didn't advise me."

Mr Peters says the refuge is run by a family and the audit report shows:

* They 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.

He has previously revealed questionable Whanau Ora funding for welfare organisations.

"Tens of millions of dollars are flowing into these so-called providers, and armies of providers are heading for the pork barrel," he said on Wednesday.

The Family and Community Services website lists that the refuge was allocated $80,000 from the family violence fund for the 2011/12 year.

NZN

source: newshub archive