29 Feb 2012

McCully dismisses $900,000 pool upgrade claim

6:35 pm on 29 February 2012

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully says there was never any plan to spend $900,000 upgrading a pool at the New Zealand embassy in Tokyo.

The Labour Party has accused the Government of having its priorities wrong after revelations about the proposed spending.

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It says the Government has planned costly upgrades for several diplomatic posts, while at the same time slashing the number of diplomats.

Labour claims the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) planned to spend $900,000 on a pool at the Japanese embassy and almost $4 million refitting High Commissioners' homes in London and Nuie.

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully said on Wednesday the $900,000 figure was one engineer's assessment of what was needed to maintain the pool.

He said there is no budget for the pool and the money would not be spent.

Mr McCully said when it become clear that jobs were under threat at MFAT, he asked the chief executive to put a halt to all non-essential capital works.

But Labour's foreign affairs spokesperson Phil Goff said if the work is not going ahead now, it is because Mr McCully had been embarrassed into stopping it.