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NZ problem gambling funding criticized

19 October 2006

NEW ZEALAND – As reported by the New Zealand Stuff: "The Government is paying gambling addiction centres up to $18,000 per client for counselling sessions of less than 30 minutes.

"National internal affairs spokeswoman Sandra Goudie called on the Auditor-General, Kevin Brady, yesterday to investigate the funding, accusing the Health Ministry of "massive overpayments".

"Goudie said contracts revealed that people were being counted as clients if they had a 16-minute phone conversation or half-hour counselling session.

"A Hamilton problem gambling help service was given more than $140,000 to help Pacific Islanders, but had seen just eight people in the 2005-2006 year, 300 below its target, according to answers to parliamentary questions.

"…Associate Health Minister Damien O'Connor told Parliament the mental health providers were under review.

"…He declined to say whether help services would have to pay money back if found to have been over-funded…"

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