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Lower Standard For Maori

Tue, 19 Oct 2004

Stephen Franks - Press Releases - Treaty of Waitangi & Maori Affairs

The statements of Maori leaders - trying to justify the political use of Government grants to Maori trusts - should now trigger a freeze on further payments, ACT New Zealand Maori Affairs Spokesman Stephen Franks said today.

"Wira Gardiner and June Jackson blithely excused political use of trust funds. John Tamihere has still not resigned, hiding behind a delaying inquiry, and Tariana Turia attributes the scale of the scandal to `Maori bashing'," Mr Franks said.

"If they can't see the disgrace, the Prime Minister should. Otherwise, toleration for Maori political corruption becomes entrenched as the norm for New Zealand politics. After the Pipi Trust scandal was disclosed, the Auditor-General warned of lax Government contracting. Now the attitudes that encourage it are being shown again - and defended.

"Months ago - with a view to questioning Attorney-General Margaret Wilson's support of the Charities Bill, and why she had not used her powers to pursue trustees breaching their duties - I asked the Parliamentary Library for copies of recent reports of fraud or mismanagement by trust boards. All the reports the library sent involved Maori trusts.

"I called them, in case they had misunderstood my question as being only about Maori. They insisted they'd sent me all the reports. It was simply the way things were; all the dodgy trusts were Maori. Current statements trying to excuse Tamihere throw light on the reason.

"Any Government genuinely committed to ordinary honesty - let alone the high standards Helen Clark promised before she gained power - would immediately freeze payments until all trusts are committed to transparency and political neutrality.

"If they are not prepared to sign up to it being wrong to use taxpayer funds for personal benefit or political campaigning, they should expect to rely on their own supporters and resources.

"New Zealand should deliver public services through organisations committed to treating people as people, without discrimination by race. All organisations should be subject to the same minimum standards of stewardship, without patronage or privilege according to ethnicity," Mr Franks said.


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