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What's behind this deal - people or politics?

Sunday 21 May 2000

What's behind this deal - people or politics?

Opposition Leader Jenny Shipley wants to know if Maori asked for the 5 percent discount on the radio spectrum they have been offered - or whether the deal was just done to appease the Government's Maori MPs.

"From what I can see, Maori would have been happy to pay the going rate. Now, because a couple of MPs got stroppy, the Government is throwing away millions of dollars of taxpayers' money - without a shred of advice that the discounted deal will actually help Maori," Mrs Shipley said.

"The Government has been talking to the Maori Council about this deal and I would like to know whether the Council sought a discount. Where did the discount idea come from - has it been offered because anyone really believes it will help people, or is it just to buy the support of the Maori MPs?

"In early March the Labour Government made it clear it would allow part of the new spectrum to be available to a Maori purchaser at the going rate - the average price that others were paying.

"In early May the Government changed the rules and came up with the discounted offer, claiming it was part of the 'closing the gaps' approach. There is no Treaty claim basis for such a gift. Labour acknowledges this. There is no evidence that the discounted spectrum will close the gaps in education, health or crime. And I don't believe the Government has received any advice that such a gift would deliver such results.

"The Opposition has requested the background papers behind the discounted spectrum arrangement, and I call on the Prime Minister and the relevant Ministers to release them immediately," Mrs Shipley said.


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