Wellington Scoop

Fraud involved during restructuring of Transport Ministry; MP wants investigation

News from NZ Labour Party
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, says Labour’s Transport spokesperson Sue Moroney.

“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 doesn’t 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,” says Sue Moroney.


  1. Mark Shanks, 9. March 2017, 15:24

    I understand she worked for the Far North District Council also. They’d better do an audit too.

  2. Mike, 9. March 2017, 17:11

    No regulation or oversight. Public should not have confidence in a self regulating institution.

  3. Mickey, 10. March 2017, 11:28

    The interview on National Radio this morning with the then Head of the Ministry and now Auditor General was quite worrying. It seemed a “protect my back” exercise.

    Questions about sacking staff who raised concerns were dodged by saying they did not raise them with him directly but this did not address whether he was actually aware, or should have been aware, of the concerns about unsatisfactory practices. In fact it seemed that the lack of proper contractual arrangements was defended by the now Auditor General as being not unusual.

    Regardless of the standards now existing in the Ministry of Transport this morning’s interview inspired no confidence in the office of the Auditor General. Labour’s call for an investigation will gain no traction because it can only embarrass the Government about the thoroughness of their appointment process.