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Trust, Minister, Ministry Must Be Accountable

Trust, Minister, Ministry Must Be Accountable

ACT New Zealand Health Spokesman Heather Roy today demanded to know exactly when Health Minister Annette King became aware of so-called Maori healer Apera Clark's alleged misuse of taxpayer funding, and called on the Minister to publicly outline how she will prevent this from happening again.

"By giving Mr Clark a $90,000 golden handshake, the Health Ministry has shown that it has absolutely no regard for responsible spending of taxpayers' money. This is completely unacceptable," Mrs Roy said.

"How many other charitable or iwi-based trusts have been allowed to abuse funding allocated for the provision of health services? In the past month alone there have been two in the headlines - Te Whatiuapiti Trust and, now, Mr Clark's Te Whare Whakapikiora o te Rangimarie Trust.

"An isolated case would be bad enough, but two cases indicates a wider, systemic problem, and raises serious questions about the Ministry's funding of charitable trusts. Does the Ministry even bother to monitor how trusts and health providers spend taxpayers' money - or does it simply turn a blind eye because political correctness is more of a priority?

"Apera Clark is accused of misusing money earmarked for Maori health. If he has, then this is tantamount to theft, and he should be required to repay every cent - including the $90,000 golden handshake that the Ministry has tried to dress up as a `final payment'.

"Like any organisation that receives Government funding, charitable and iwi-based trusts must be held to account - as must the Ministry and its Minister. Then, and only then, can New Zealand taxpayers feel confident that their tax dollars are not being squandered - a confidence that they do not yet have," Mrs Roy said.

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