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PM Distancing Herself From Tamihere

The Prime Minister Helen Clark has this morning admitted for the first time that there is evidence of financial irregularity at the Waipareira Trust and is attempting to distance herself from MP, John Tamihere.

Speaking on Morning Report Miss Clark said, “What I suspect is there’s been some sloppiness with the accounting and we know that money was paid into wrong accounts. Later in the interview she went further saying “as I say, I have seen suggestions and probably evidence of some sloppy financial management.”

ACT Leader Richard Prebble said this is a significant U-turn from Miss Clark who yesterday also tried to put air between herself and her beleaguered MP by blaming the National Party for entering into contracts with the Trust while in Government. “Last week Helen Clark was telling Parliament that she had full confidence in Mr Tamihere and was publicly calling on me to ‘put up or shut up’. ACT has done just that,” he said.

“The public needs to realise that these are not ACT’s allegations but are in fact being made by members of the Maori community. The Labour Party knew of these allegations last year. The local Labour electorate committee refused to support Mr Tamihere’s nomination and it was Helen Clark who publicly overrode that advice and insisted on selecting him.

“When prior to the election some of the allegations became public, the Labour Party held a ‘show audit’ with prominent Labour MPs visiting the Trust and publicly giving it a clean bill of health. When, after the election, further complaints were made to the Prime Minister’s Office of a very serious nature, she chose to ignore them. Indeed, she told Parliament that she had asked Mr Tamihere about the allegations who had assured her all was well and that was good enough for her.

“The Prime Minister took no action to disassociate herself from Mr Tamihere calling me a racist and indeed, issued a press statement implying support. This week, despite being given an opportunity in Parliament to publicly disassociate herself from Mr Tamihere’s claim that three prominent Maori leaders are ‘drug addicts and the like’ she failed to take the opportunity.

“It is interesting to note that not a single Maori Member of Parliament has been prepared to support Mr Tamihere’s conduct or his allegations. The Labour Party, on Wednesday, in Parliament claimed that it was standing behind Mr Tamihere but, Labour Members of the Maori Affairs Select Committee yesterday supported setting up a Select Committee inquiry into the Trust’s handling of taxpayer money.

“It’s clear that Helen Clark is scrambling to get off Mr Tamihere’s chariot. She can't. Helen Clark selected him, she ignored representations from Maori and she can’t now claim that some how it is the National Party’s fault,” said Hon Richard Prebble. ENDS

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