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Hide Calls For Inquiry Following Tuku's "Shedgate"

Hide Calls For Inquiry Following Tuku's "Shedgate"

ACT New Zealand Finance Spokesman Rodney Hide today said it was now a matter of urgency that a proper inquiry be undertaken into just where the millions and millions of dollars of taxpayers' money poured into Maori TV were ending up.

"The latest scandal is Tuku Morgan - of `undie-gate' fame - receiving $260,000 to produce 13 half-hour episodes of a Maori chat show filmed in his mother-in-laws' tin shed. Taxpayers' paid for BMW-TV, only to receive tin-shed productions that are yet to go to air," Mr Hide said.

"Tuku's chat show started as current affairs, but will end up historical documentaries, and his company has received almost $3 million to make TV programmes so far. His big contract, dating back to 2001, is $1.84 million to produce 10 half-hour episodes of the Maori history documentary `Hawaiki'. That's TV at $368,000 an hour - nearly 10 times more than what is now the maximum funding limit.

"Taxpayers have forked out $70 million for Maori TV programming in the past four years. There has been $17 million on shows just for the Maori Television Service. Then there is `te blowout' that saw spending more than double on the MTS's operational budget. MTS was supposed to go to air midway through last year. Now it's some time this year.

"Prime Minister Helen Clark now says the spending on Tuku is an `operational matter' and has no comment. Well, we can all well remember when she was in high dudgeon over Tuku's undies. Wasting money is now okay 'cos she's PM.

"In January last year the Prime Minister did have a bit to say. She promised `rigorous scrutiny' of the $1.84 million taxpayer grant to Tuku Morgan. She said there were systems in place for any Opposition MPs who had concerns. `They're (Te Mangai Paho) publicly accountable. If there's ever doubts with public agencies there's ways of dealing with that through the parliamentary select committee system, the Audit Office, etc'.

"Well, `Shedgate' is the dizzy limit. This week, I will be testing Ms Clark's commitment to public accountability. I will be writing to the Finance and Expenditure Select Committee asking for an inquiry into where the money on Maori TV has gone. I look forward to Labour MPs following the Prime Minister's word and agreeing to the inquiry," Mr Hide said.

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