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New Broom, Or Cover-Up Carpet For TMP?

New Broom, Or Cover-Up Carpet For TMP?

Having Wira Gardiner take over at Te Mangai Paho raises a key question: `is he a new broom, or just a carpet to cover the sweepings of cronyism and corruption that masquerade as cultural entitlement?' ACT New Zealand Maori Affairs Spokesman Stephen Franks asked today.

"Ordinarily, you'd expect that a government faced with proof of wrongdoing it had tried to cover up, would go all out to show a real determination to change. And ordinarily I would give the new guy time to show whether he's part of the same old problem, or genuinely committed to a clean up," Mr Franks said.

"But this Government doesn't apply ordinary public office principles to Maori. Three weeks ago, Finance Minister Michael Cullen falsely claimed that the Treaty justifies different law for Maori. Minister Margaret Wilson last week was more cunning - she said Maori Cabinet Ministers are under the same rules as pakeha, `but they are applied flexibly'.

"ACT's problem with Wira Gardiner is that he openly announced, in November 2001, that Maori should not be judged by the ordinary conflict of interest rules that apply to everyone else in public office.

"When Associate Maori Affairs Minister Tariana Turia was exposed misusing her Ministerial office to harry Corrections into concessions for a member of her whanau, Wira Gardiner came to her defence. Mr Gardiner considered that Ms Turia's cultural responsibility to help her wider family with her Ministerial powers `raises a significant conflict in the way in which the Westminster system operates with the Maori world view', and went on to say `In a sense [conflict of interest] does not exist in a Maori world view'.

"ACT will not tolerate a double standard. We believe that thousands of Maori taxpayers don't believe in it either. Only the `in' group, with positions at the trough, want dishonesty to be excused in Maori public organisations. Changing this culture needs an over reaction. Cleaning up moral pigsties needs people of unimpeachable standards. They must be absolutely determined to eliminate any culture which allows whanau or mates to share the hidden spoils of office.

"Given their part in the cover up, we can't just take it for granted that the right tone is set at the top. Ministers Horomia and Tamihere must tell New Zealanders exactly what instructions they have given to Wira Gardiner. Do they care? Or has he been asked whether he still thinks that conflicts of interest and family preference are okay? Or has he really been asked just to settle everything down, and ensure that next time the fraudsters are even harder for ACT and Rodney Hide to dig out," Mr Franks said.

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