Letter to Parliamentary Service about party and member support funding

21 February 2019: On 4 December 2018, the Auditor-General received a request to look into claims that a staff member in Hon Maggie Barry’s office was asked to carry out political party work during work hours. We have written to Parliamentary Service with our response...

18 February 2019

Rafael Gonzalez-Montero
General Manager
Parliamentary Service
Parliament Buildings
Private Bag 18041
Wellington 6160

Dear Rafael

Allegations concerning possible misuse of party and member support funding

As you are aware, my Office has received correspondence asking that we look into claims that a staff member in the office of a member of Parliament was asked to carry out political party work during work hours. These claims were also referred to in various media articles in December last year.

The claims are of interest to me because they concern the use of party and member support funding, which is one of the appropriations in Vote Parliamentary Service. Any concerns about the use of appropriations fall directly within my mandate as Controller and Auditor-General.

In order to decide what investigation, if any, my Office needs to carry out into this matter, my staff have reviewed the information provided by the correspondent and have also met with senior personnel from the Parliamentary Service to find out what steps the Parliamentary Service has taken in response to the claims.

Based on discussions with your staff, my understanding is that the Parliamentary Service was made aware of the concerns that have been raised with us about staff being asked to do political party work during work hours. However, the concerns were raised in the context of a broader investigation into an employment matter, and have therefore so far been considered only in that context. My understanding is that a specific investigation into whether there has been a breach of the appropriation has not yet been carried out.

We therefore consider that further investigation into the concerns is necessary. After discussions with staff from your office, we have decided that the most appropriate course of action is for the Parliamentary Service to carry out that investigation.

I do not intend to inquire further into this matter at this stage. However, depending on the outcome of the Parliamentary Service’s investigation, I may decide that further work by my Office is warranted. I would be grateful therefore if you would let me know the outcome of your investigation.

Because of the level of public interest in the matters raised, we will publish this letter on our website.

Yours sincerely

Signature - JR

John Ryan
Controller and Auditor-General