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Minister Must Answer For Kahukura Fiasco

Minister Must Answer For Kahukura Fiasco

The Film Commission and the Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage have been callously cavalier in their attitude toward creditors of Kahukura Productions Ltd, ACT's Small Business Spokesman Deborah Coddington said today.

"Unsecured creditors Tony Lynch and Brenda Jessup, owners of catering company Ministry of Food, are owed at least $15,000 by the failed film company," said Ms Coddington.

"In December the Jessups told the Dominion Post they were `outraged and angry' the Commission had not alerted creditors to the problems with Kahukura.

"Judith Tizard has previously denied reports that the Commission knew of Kahukura's financial problems before $2.2 million of taxpayers' money was advanced to the troubled company. However, Peter Jackson's Film Unit logged a phone call on March 5, 2002 to the Commission, alerting it to the fact that a Kahukura Production cheque had bounced.

"But, now, Ms Tizard has indeed admitted - in answer to my written questions - that the Commission did actually know about Kahukura's problems. The Minister has misled the public over this.

"However, she airily dismisses concerns about sharing this information with other creditors, claiming the Commission had `no legal right to alert creditors'. Her justification for this arrogant behaviour is self-serving nonsense.

"Another answer from the Minister confirms that the Commission made no checks about Kahukura Productions' financial viability prior to signing the $2.2 million deal - despite the fact that in the 1980s Larry Parr's film company, Mirage, went bust owing thousands of dollars.

"If Judith Tizard was signing $2 million of her own money across to someone associated with companies with a chequered financial past, I'm sure she'd do due diligence. However, when it comes to taxpayers' money the same rules do not seem to apply.

"She is clearly unsuitable for the job of representing all those involved in arts, culture and heritage, and should resign," said Ms Coddington.

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