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Govt blames election, rugby on DPS blowout

Thursday 27 Dec 2012 8:35 a.m.

Prime Minister John Key (AAP)

Prime Minister John Key (AAP)

The diplomatic protection squad, tasked with protecting Prime Minister John Key and other dignitaries, has again blown its budget, this time by more than $1 million.

The government is blaming last year's Rugby World Cup and general election, while Labour is again pointing the finger at Mr Key's personal protection measures.

The squad's budget for the 2011/12 year was about $5.2m, around $1.1m over budget, Radio New Zealand reports.

It follows overspends of $800,000 and $750,000 in previous years. Police, following a review, are blaming rising travel and accommodation costs.

Duty Minister Judith Collins told the broadcaster the squad had been busy during the world cup, with visiting dignitaries, and during the election, when the leader of the opposition was also given squad protection.

She said it was up to police how to spend the money in their budget.

"The police do their job brilliantly. Frankly, I'd just say let the police get on and do their job and stop picking every time they have more dignitaries out... then they have to go and protect them."

It did affect their budget but but they coped, she said.

Labour's Chris Hipkins said Mr Key's protection measures were "unprecedented" and he had two to three times the protection of former prime minister Helen Clark.

Previously, Labour has accused Mr Key of using the bodyguards excessively after they accompanied him on holiday to Hawaii.

NZN

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