The doubled edged audit sword

June 15th, 2012 at 3:16 pm by David Farrar

I write at the NZ Herald:

The decision by the Deputy to inquire into international convention centre tender, more popularly known as the deal, is a double-edged sword for the Government and the Opposition.

If the Deputy Auditor-General finds that the tender process was not run in a fair way, then it will damage the credibility of the Minister of Tourism. The Minister also, of course, happens to be the Prime Minister. This means adverse findings could strike at the heart of the Government.

However if the Deputy Auditor-General does not conclude there were any significant issues in the awarding of the tender, then it could blunt the opposition attacks on the awarding in principle of the tender to Sky City.

I also note the way different PMs have handled the Audit Office:

The Office of the Auditor-General is a vital one in our constitutional arrangements. It is the public watchdog, and has very wide powers. It has not always endeared itself to the Government of the day. When the Auditor-General found that most parliamentary parties had illegally spent taxpayer money on electioneering, then Prime Minister Helen Clark attacked the finding, saying she does not accept the reasoning in his opinion and judgement, and that he was wrong. She refused to express confidence in his competence, and said he “has a serious credibility problem”.

This response is in stark contrast to the current Prime Minister who said he welcome the inquiry by the Deputy Auditor-General, and was “delighted” with it. 

I still regard those attacks on the Auditor-General as a low point in executive behaviour.

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11 Responses to “The doubled edged audit sword”

  1. Graeme Edgeler (3,289 comments) says:

    I still regard those attacks on the Auditor-General as a low point in executive behaviour.

    Agreed.

    If the PM felt that way, she should have sought to have him removed from office.

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  2. Don the Kiwi (1,763 comments) says:

    The whole 9 years of Heilen Klark was a low point in political history.

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  3. hmmokrightitis (1,590 comments) says:

    God can we stop talking about the SheBeast, please. Im over him, I really am.

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  4. boredboy (250 comments) says:

    It is a double-edged sword, like many things.

    However, the Government is definitely at a disadvantage. If they lose, you’re right it will go to the heart of the Government but if they win, the public won’t really get too upset at Labour. I say this because a TV3 poll has indicated 72% of the public are opposed to the deal.

    The downside for the Government is much greater.

    To quote Louis CK from his ‘Cinema Classics’ Youtube clip: “It’s a double-edged sword but one side doesn’t cut so good.”

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  5. Than (475 comments) says:

    Helen Clark’s abuse of the system has ruined the credibility of the Auditor-General. The Taito Phillip Field case proves that being cleared by the AG means exactly nothing.

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  6. thor42 (971 comments) says:

    I couldn’t give a toss about the Sky City deal.
    Axe Bludging for Families and the DPB, and march the dole bludgers off to the dairy farms and the forests. **That** will get me really interested in politics again.

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  7. Mark (1,488 comments) says:

    Hardly a double edged sword. If the DAG finds nothing wrong then the deal will proceed, and little damage to the opposition. If the deal is shonky then It strikes hard at Keys credibility. it is hard to see the double edged nature of that.

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  8. Leaping Jimmy (16,511 comments) says:

    I still regard those attacks on the Auditor-General as a low point in executive behaviour.

    Weren’t you in the country then DPF? She did lots of other things as well.

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  9. bringbackdemocracy (427 comments) says:

    Where’s the money Winston? You still haven’t payed it back.

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  10. bka (135 comments) says:

    To bring in the well founded material on Helen Clark the article rather downplays the difference between welcoming an inquiry and welcoming adverse findings from it. It would be even worse to attack the AG before an inquiry was under way, for example, and be seen to discourage it or influence the findings.
    Because the AG office is supposed to be independent one of the standard politician’s responses to an investigation, “it’s a waste of time and resources”, is off the agenda, so the only thing left is to welcome it.

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  11. Paulus (2,632 comments) says:

    The Deputy Auditor-General is handling this because the Auditor-General has shares in Sky City.

    I suspect that many Kiwisaver fund managers have shares likewise on behalf of their members.

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