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Shirley calls for urgent debate on wananga

Shirley calls for urgent debate on wananga

ACT MP Ken Shirley has written to Speaker Jonathan Hunt seeking an urgent parliamentary debate on Labour's moves to hand over Te Wananga O Aotearoa's financial control to a Crown observer as announced by Trevor Mallard this afternoon.

In his letter Mr Shirley argued that the recent allegations of serious financial mismanagement were of considerable public interest given Cabinet's decisions taken today and the Government's payment of nearly a quarter of a billion dollars to the organisation last year.

"I seek a debate on a matter of urgent public importance pursuant to Standing Order 373," wrote the ACT MP.

Late last week Mr Shirley called for both a commissioner to take immediate control of the wananga's governance as well as a ministerial inquiry to get to the bottom of the "sorry saga".

"Labour's pressured decision to appoint a Crown observer is too little too late. The horse has already bolted.

"If such allegations were aimed at a real university I'm sure Labour would not have been so slow in its response.

"Taking a stand against Te Wananga O Aotearoa has proven problematic for Labour given the education provider's close relationship to influential King Country and Waikato Maori, not to mention the rise of the Maori Party.

"Labour's political management of this issue has been uncharacteristically cavalier and slow. It continues to point to the Audit Office as the best one to carry out the investigation, but the Audit Office is very limited in its powers.

"The Crown observer will help to lance the boil but because the wananga's been on a long leash for many years now things will continue to fester for some time. What's more, the Government doesn't have any idea what allegations are coming out next," said Mr Shirley.

"Labour's policy off little accountability for the wananga has come at the cost of Maori education and the taxpayer," said Mr Shirley.

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