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Budget blowout for PM's guards

Published: 7:17PM Tuesday September 20, 2011 Source: ONE News

Another budget blowout for the officers who protect the Prime Minister and other VIPs has been uncovered by ONE News.

The $750,000 overspend in the Diplomatic Protection Squad budget was revealed under the Official Information Act.

However, Judith Collins, the minister responsible for the DPS, put her guard up when questioned about the budget blowout.

No-one doubts the Prime Minister and other dignitaries need protection.

But in May ONE News revealed the DPS had blown its 2009-10 budget by $800,000, or 20%. That included a $30,000 bill to send the DPS on Key's Hawaiian holiday.

In May, Police Minister Collins said the budget blowout was due to changes in police pay, defending it on both Close Up and ONE News.

She even took the step of revealing a man had been charged for threatening to blow up the Prime Minister.

But Collins would not answer questions today on why the most recent figures have revealed more of the same.

They show the DPS budget was increased by almost $200,000 to $4.17 million in the last financial year. In fact $4.92 million was actually spent.

Key said: "We don't control those budgets, and they have operational control. At the end of the day they are the experts when it comes to security. I take their advice, I don't try and second guess the police."

In response to questions from ONE News about why the Diplomatic Protection Squad is blowing its budget, Key said: "Trawl through the court reports about how many people are trying to kill me".

In a statement, police say they do not discuss the DPS but claim the extra spending was absorbed by the wider police budget and did not have any impact on other services.

Labour says another budget blow out for the Diplomatic Protection Squad is serious, claiming Prime Minister John Key has used the squad excessively.

Labour MP Pete Hodgson said the underlining reason is that Key enjoys the appearance of an entourage.

"He is unlike any other Prime Minister, man or woman, before him."