Wellington, March 9, 2017
Convicted fraudster Joanne Harrison was involved in a financial restructuring of the Ministry of Transport at the same time as she was committing her crimes.
At today’s Transport Select Committee, senior officials of the Ministry accepted that this restructuring resulted in people who had tried to blow the whistle on Harrison, losing their jobs.
I am calling for an investigation into the three staff made redundant in order to restore faith and confidence for public servants that they will be safe when they do the right thing by raising the alarm about fraudulent behaviour.
Today the Ministry argued that she was ‘very premeditated’ in her crimes but this does not answer why in spite of eight warnings she was never stopped until the Auditor General’s Office became involved.
I also find it incredible that Harrison had a financial delegation of up to $100,000 but never went through a police or justice check.
If the Ministry had bothered to do a police check before employing a senior manager, they would have discovered that police in Victoria were in contact with New Zealand Police about a fraud investigation they were conducting into Harrison.
I am also staggered to have it confirmed that concerns about Harrison were raised as early as October 2013 but she was not suspended from her job until April 2016.
Last month, Harrison was sentenced to prison but the Judge said it was unlikely that all of the $700,000 of taxpayers’ money lost in this fraud will be recovered.
The Minister must act to restore faith and confidence in the systems and processes to protect the public from fraud in the Transport Sector.
Sue Moroney is a Member of Parliament on Labour List and Transport Spokesman of the Party.