Bill's Budget blunder - central London makeover?
Fri, 25 May 2012 4:50p.m.
Watch the video for the report by Patrick Gower
By Lloyd Burr
The Budget has revealed plans to use money from asset sales to upgrade New Zealand’s High Commission in central London.
But Finance Minister Bill English says his Budget is wrong and the $150 million needed for the upgrade will not come from his asset sales money-pot, dubbed the ‘Future Investment Fund’.
Yet his Budget document is plain: the upgrade to New Zealand House is a “potential capital decision expected to be funded from the Future Investment Fund”.
This morning, Mr English disagreed with that particular section of the Budget Economic and Fiscal Update (BEFU) – which he signed off – saying it wouldn’t happen.
“We don’t want to pay for it out of the Future Investment Fund,” he says.
3 News published a story on the issue yesterday but was ordered by Mr English’s office to remove it because “the story is wrong”.
“Can you please tell your online team – no proceeds of the partial assets sales will be used to pay for a makeover of the High Commission in London, so it needs to be removed,” the statement said.
But the BEFU plainly sets out that the upgrade will be paid for from the Future Investment Fund – a fund solely for the proceeds from selling state-owned Meridian Energy, Solid Energy, Mighty River Power and Genesis Energy.
Labour leader David Shearer says the plan is “ridiculous” and “absolute nonsense”.
“People don’t want their assets sold at all. They will be even more angry at the fact [the proceeds] will go toward New Zealand House in London.
“New Zealand House is past its use-by date anyway and we should be looking at other alternatives,” he says.
Green Party co-leader Russel Norman says it is complete waste of money.
“What are the dividends going to be by providing a swanky residence in London for the ambassador and the diplomats,” he says.
The plans come amid cost-cutting measures at the Foreign Affairs Ministry which is trying to save $10 million from its European operations, recently announcing the closure of the New Zealand embassy in Sweden.
The Ministry also confirmed last week that around 80 staff would lose their jobs.
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26/05/2012 2:30:26 p.m.
Does it matter where the money technically comes from? It's a NZ asset and we're maintaining it..
25/05/2012 6:45:40 p.m.
No David get your facts right and stop being a moron as usual.
25/05/2012 5:23:23 p.m.
So Bill English deliberately misled the house? and the New Zealand public by signing off on the budget document?.
Does that not now require him to stand down from parliament?.
Or is Bill English merely incompetent, as he was shown to be as a former National Party leader that has been forced to stand down?.
Heres a more reasonable plan Bill, dont do the upgrade.. no need to fire staff... get a new location.
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