Payments by Dunedin City Council to former MP with no documentation
This morning the Taxpayers’ Union went public with material concerning a payment (or payments) totalling $3,400 by the Dunedin City Council to former MP Pete Hogdson with no documentation or contract.
We're questioning the internal controls at the Council after the uncovering the payment following a recent media report that Mr Hodgson had been recruited by the Council for lobbying. We asked for information about the services being provided by Mr Hodgson under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act. Click "continue reading" below to view the Council's response.
According to the Council, Mr Hodgson’s work consisted of “lobbying and advocating on behalf of the Council” and there is no supporting documentation.
The Council has told us that:
- Everything was verbal. The Council could not provide a single report, email, or even letter of engagement.
- All of the contracts were negotiated verbally.
- The contracts were negotiated by the Mayor and there is no documentation to explain the deal.
We asked for copies of any work by Mr Hodgson. All we got back was two letters by the mayor on which Mr Hodgson apparently had input. It is not clear what precisely that was. For example, there is no 'tracked changes" document.
We think Dunedin ratepayers will be alarmed that their Council paid $3,400 apparently without so much as an invoice. Dunedin ratepayers should ask their Mayor:
- What did Mr Hodgson do? Was this just expensive proof reading?
- Why was the Mayor negotiating this in the first place?
- Why verbally?
- Why is there absolutely no documentation for the arrangement, not even an email?”
- Is Mr Hodgson friends with the Mayor?
- Why doesn't Dunedin Council have the most basic internal controls, requiring amounts to be paid by invoice only?
The Council’s response raises serious questions. We can't think of another government agency that would spend $3,400 without being able to provide as much as an invoice.
Without an explanation from the Council, we are left wondering whether the Auditor-General should get involved."