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Tame Iti taxpayer jaunt has former Minister fuming

Nick Smith


National MP

5 September 2000

Tame Iti taxpayer jaunt has former Minister fuming

National MP and former Conservation Minister Nick Smith says it's outrageous that the taxpayer is funding Tame Iti's travel saying it rewarded protestors who had already cost the taxpayer a fortune.

"This Government will do anything to appease activists. Fresh home from supporting George Speight in Fiji, the Government flies Mr Iti to Lake Waikaremoana to put his case for spending $300,000 on a road to nowhere, buy and retail his artwork and discuss exclusive campsites. It is an outrage and sends a message to law abiding New Zealanders that if you protest and break the law, the Government will bend over backwards to appease you," Dr Smith said.

Alliance Leader Jim Anderton told Parliament today that Mr Iti was funded for return travel from Auckland to meet with Conservation staff at Lake Waikaremoana. This follows a personal visit by the Minister with Mr Iti to the Lake in January. The Deputy Prime Minister claimed the local Conservator, Peter Williamson, made the decision to fund Mr Iti's fares independent of the Minister.

"The Government is dumping on conservation staff in blaming this payout on East Coast Conservator Peter Williamson. Papers released under the Official Information Act make it plain that Mr Williamson was quite uncomfortable about the influence Mr Iti had over the Minister and the actions that were being taken. It is absolutely plain from the paper trail that without Ms Lee's intervention there would have been no proposal for special campsites, $300,000 for Mr Iti's road or funding for his travel.

"Mr Iti is on record saying that the McCahon painting is 'hostage to get those things done that we want' and the Minister is dancing to his tune," Dr Smith said.

Ends


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