Minister asked to explain 'massive discrepancy'

SIMON PLUMB
Last updated 05:00 01/07/2012

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The Minister of sport says there's no discrepancy between what he told Parliament it cost to rebrand Sport and Recreation New Zealand, and the actual cost, which was nearly three times higher.

The minister, Murray McCully, attributed the difference to the Sunday Star-Times asking a "broader" question.

Last week the Star-Times revealed taxpayers footed a $215,846 bill to rebrand the Crown's recreational entity as Sport New Zealand.

In February, New Zealand First leader Winston Peters asked McCully in Parliament how much the rebrand cost, and, in a written response, was told $76,195.

But costings obtained under the Official Information Act show the project's total expenses were spread across three areas – brand strategy and development, sector rebrand costs, and Sport NZ rebranding. The $76,195 McCully declared was for strategy and development only.

Sector rebrand costs were another $79,329, and Sport NZ's rebrand costs were $60,322, taking the total spend to $139,651 more than McCully declared.

"You [the Star-Times] asked a much broader question of Sport NZ, and received a much broader answer," McCully said yesterday.

"There is no discrepancy. The answer I gave, that the estimated cost of the brand development was $76,195, was absolutely correct. My answer also made it clear that there would be `a soft and gradual rollout', referring to the ongoing process of incorporating the new brand over time."

But Peters said the "massive discrepancy" was "seriously significant", and called for McCully to explain it further, because there was "suspicion that someone is misleading Parliament".

"There's a massive discrepancy between what McCully told me, which was $76,195, and the total rebrand costs," he said.

"It takes it up to $215,846, and that's a big difference, a seriously significant one.

"I asked what the estimated cost behind rebranding Sport and Recreation New Zealand as Sport New Zealand was. My question was `re-branding Sport and Recreation New Zealand', and that is every aspect. I didn't narrow it down to just one.

"This opens suspicion that someone is misleading Parliament, and the public. The other categories are rebrand costs too, and within the ambit of my question. He should have answered properly and openly."

Peters said he would not let the matter rest.

"I want to know why the written answer came in with significant pieces of information and expenditure left out."

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