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Inquiry into Waipareira Trust

The Maori Affairs Select Committee voted today to set up a special inquiry to examine the Waipareira Trust's use of taxpayers' money.

The Hon Richard Prebble, Leader of ACT said he was pleased that the Committee had unanimously resolved to accept his proposal to investigate the Trust.

The terms of reference are as follows:

“That a special inquiry be sent up to examine the Waipareira Trust’s use of taxpayers' money. That the Committee invite Dennis Hansen, Naida Pou and Hyrum Parata to give evidence and to bring with them any documents they have.
The Committee then examine any other evidence deemed relevant in establishing the integrity of the information received.
The Committee then report its finding to the House with any recommendation the Committee feels necessary.”

The Committee has accepted a further amendment from the Hon Doug Kidd that the inquiry start once the Committee has been advised that the investigations into the Trust being conducted by the Serious Fraud Office, Police, and the Auditor-General are completed. The Committee will request a report from the Minister of Maori Affairs and the Auditor-General.

The Chairman of the Committee Mr John Tamihere attempted to rule the inquiry out of order. It was very fortunate that the Deputy Speaker Mr Braybrooke and the former Speaker Mr Kidd were members of the Committee today and able to uphold my case that the inquiry was within the powers of the Committee.

Committee members clearly shared my concern that three prominent members of the Maori community, namely Messers Hansen, Pou and Parata have been described by the Chairman of the Committee as being quote "drug addicts, thieves and the like" and the Committee feels that these people need to be given an opportunity to clear their names.

I believe the Committee was also swayed by my argument that these people have only been defamed because they have a connection to the Waipareira Trust.

While I personally would have preferred the inquiry to commence immediately I voted for Mr Kidd's amendment because I believe the Committee's unanimous recommendation sends a powerful message that MPs cannot defame members of the public under parliamentary privilege with impunity.

More than one member of the Committee said that they believed that Mr Tamihere's remarks had completely changed the debate over Waipareira Trust, and their attitude.

The Committee also voted to replace Mr Tamihere as the Chair while this matter was being considered. I personally believe his attempt to rule out the motion on bogus grounds also influenced members to vote in favour of the inquiry.

This is a very significant development. The terms of the inquiry are sufficiently wide to enable the Committee to determine the truth of the very serious allegations that have been made. As I said to the Chairman either you will be vindicated or those you have described as drug addicts, thieves and the like will be vindicated.

The committee will determine the truth of this matter,” said Hon Richard Prebble.


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