Thursday, September 17, 2015

Incompetence or fraud?

Ten days ago the serious Fraud Office announced that it was investigating Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre over a potential $8.6 million fraud. The training centre falsely enrolled tutors as students and delivered fewer courses than it was funded for in order to get more funding. Yesterday, it emerged in the House that National MP Barbara Kuriger was on the board while that fraud was committed:

Taranaki-King Country MP Barbara Kuriger has been called out for her "ignorance" of the funding rorts at Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre while she was on its board.

The centre is under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office after an independent investigation found it had delivered fewer courses than it was funded for and enrolled tutors in courses they themselves were teaching, Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) chief executive Tim Fowler confirmed in early September.

Taratahi has agreed to repay the government a total of $8.6m.

The improper enrolments occurred between 2009 and 2014. Kuriger was on the board at Taratahi from 2012 to 2014.

Which raises the obvious question: did Kuriger and the rest of the board know about this, or were they so utterly incompetent that they had a huge and ongoing failure of oversight amounting to millions of dollars a year? Kuriger owes us some answers on this - but either way, it seriously calls into question whether she is fit to be in Parliament.