National MP Nick Smith says he will complain to the Auditor-General about a $245,000 Department of Conservation toilet block he says cost the same to build as the average family home and was "too flash".
Dr Smith said the toilet block, at Kerr Bay at Lake Rotoiti, near Nelson, cost three times as much as comparable toilet blocks nearby, including about $20,000 in architects' fees.
He said the Government was throwing money away on "luxurious dunnies" and it was ludicrous to commission architects specifically for one public toilet block.
"This toilet is costing more to build than an average family spends to build an entire house. It is just completely over the top. It is grossly over-specified and flash for a facility in the back country."
Dr Smith said the block had three toilets for both males and females - the same as Tasman District Council toilets built recently in nearby Mapua and Motueka which had cost $65,000 and $56,000 respectively. All three had comparable access and none was on reticulated sewerage systems.
Dr Smith said he would complain to the Auditor-General's office, claiming it was a poor use of taxpayers' money. He said DoC had wasted money on window-dressing - the Kerr Bay block was built of concrete block but had varying angled roof lines and a timber finish around the sinks "which will be vandalised in no time".
The Kerr Bay block was designed by Nelson architects Matz Architecture, who will be paid about $20,000.
A list of the cost of work on DoC toilet blocks over the past three years, which was also provided to Mr Smith, shows the department spent $540,000 on toilets at Goat Island near Leigh in 2005, $1.7 million replacing 30 toilets in the Nelson and Marlborough region between 2004 and 2007, $305,000 at the Punakaiki National Park in 2005, $227,500 on the Heaphy Track, $394,000 at the Haast World Heritage Visitors' Centre in 2006, and $375,000 on toilets at White Horse Hill at Aoraki in 2007.
Most upgrades and repairs cost less than $10,000.