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Labour wants inquiry into contract award

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 18/04/2016

Labour wants the auditor-general to investigate the awarding of a contract to a company run by a man who donated $100,000 to the National Party.

The businessman, Earl Hagaman, made the donation in 2014 and a month later his company, Scenic Hotel Group, won the contract to manage Niue's Matavai Resort.

The resort is heavily funded by New Zealand government aid, and the contract was awarded by the Niue Tourism Property Trust, whose trustees are appointed by Foreign Minister Murray McCully.

Mr McCully strongly denies there's any link between the donation and the contract.

"Absolutely none whatsoever," he told RNZ.

"Scenic Hotel was appointed as the managers after an international competitive process... this is something that was done on a purely commercial basis, no involvement from me or my office."

Mr McCully says he didn't know Mr Hagaman was a National Party donor, and if he had it wouldn't have influenced any decisions.

But Labour leader Andrew Little says the revelations "stink to high heaven" and there must be an inquiry.

"I have today written to the auditor-general asking her to investigate whether Earl Hagaman giving money to the party at the same time his company was tendering for the Niue contract was above board," he said on Monday.

"We must have questions answered on how the tender process worked, who knew about links between donations and the tenderer, and whether Niuean people will ultimately benefit from the resort's funding."

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