18 Feb 2011

Treasury head defends luxury retreat for counterparts

7:32 pm on 18 February 2011

The Treasury Secretary is defending spending thousands on hosting his counterparts from Britain and Australia, saying it doesn't alter his belt-tightening message to the public sector.

John Whitehead says about $15,000 was spent on a three-day retreat at a luxury retreat in Hawke's Bay.

He told Checkpoint he stands by his messages to the public sector, but this venue was about attracting high-calibre people by showcasing New Zealand.

Last year Mr Whitehead urged the Government to cut spending in order to achieve budget surpluses sooner than planned.

He singled out KiwiSaver, tertiary institutions, and adjusting benefits for inflation as deserving closer scrutiny.

This week's meeting with Sir Nicholas Macpherson from Britain and Dr Ken Henry from Australia was the first such meeting.

Mr Whitehead is defending the choice of venue, the Black Barn Vineyard near Havelock North.