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GATS: What the Minister didn't know

GATS: What the Minister didn't know

Green Broadcasting Spokesperson Sue Kedgley was surprised and dismayed to find out in Parliament today that the Broadcasting Minister was not even aware of attempts to remove government assistance to the film industry and funding for Maori broadcasting under the GATS negotiations.

In response to questioning from Sue Kedgley during question-time in the house today the Minister said that he was not even aware of the attempts to remove government assistance to the film industry and funding for Maori broadcasting under the GATS negotiations.

If the government acceded to GATS requests in this area, the New Zealand Film Commission would be required to open up its funding to foreign film makers.

Yet the government's own GATS consultation paper produced by MFAT shows that other countries have asked New Zealand to "remove current national treatment limitations" and lists these as "funding for Maori broadcasting and government assistance to the film industry."

"It is symptomatic of this government's secret approach to the GATS that the Trade Negotiations Minister has not even told the Broadcasting Minister about this grasp for Film Commission money by overseas film companies," said Ms Kedgley.

The Minister also failed to make any commitment to tell Parliament what services were going to be offered under the next round of GATS. Yet more secrecy.

"This is particularly galling given that the Minister admitted that the National Party's foolhardy and secret commitment of audio-visual services in 1994 means that it would be GATS-illegal for this Government to introduce mandatory local quotas on TV and radio," said Ms Kedgley.

"Minister Maharey needs to ask Minister Sutton 'what on Earth is going on?'"

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