28 June 2006

Hodder fits the Premier's frame

Speaker of the House of Assembly Harvey Hodder commented today for the first time on the scandal in his office.

Hodder chairs the Internal Economy Commission.

He says he had concerns about some issues when he took over in 2004. Hodder added he felt the big mistake was barring the Auditor General from the House of Assembly in 2000.

Oddly, Hodder gave no indication of the changes he implemented in 2004. Evidently, whatever changes he implemented weren't enough. Of course, Hodder is now claiming credit for something that last week the Premier claimed credit for doing.

But that really won't get him out of the glare of scrutiny since Hodder is, after all, responsible for overseeing the operations of the House of Assembly.

But I digress.

Overall, though Hodder is sticking to the Premier's line and the focus on the Auditor General.

Hodder apparently made no mention to the key decision in 2000 and the real root of the issue. In 2000, IEC gave the former director of financial operations the power to have cheques cut by the Department of Finance without submitting supporting documents. This decision wasn't reversed in 2002 or even in 2004. It may have changed within the past few days, given the Auditor General's findings

The Auditor General notes that this is one of the decisions that facilitated the $2.8 million in questionable spending that continued almost two full years into Hodder's tenure as Speaker. It is also totally at odds with administrative practices in every department of government.

According to Hodder's version of events, it takes the Auditor General to point out that having one person responsible for all financial transactions is a recipe for disaster. That's another point noted in AG John Noseworthy's latest report. No one has indicated yet if the former Auditor General, who sat on IEC in 2004, brought this issue to Hodder's attention either. Maybe all this happened but that there was a concerted effort to hide facts from the people responsible for overseeing administration of the House of Assembly.

Of course, if the AG doesn't get around to auditing your books for over two years, Harvey, a few bucks might go astray in the meantime.