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PM can’t duck this one; McElrea needs to go

Clare Curran
Broadcasting Spokesperson

8 February 2012

PM can’t duck this one; McElrea needs to go

The involvement of a National Party official, closely linked to the Prime Minister, in making decisions about a taxpayer-funded documentary on Whanau Ora - a controversial government initiative - demonstrates high level political cronyism and interference, Labour’s Broadcasting spokesperson Clare Curran says.

“John Key continues to defend his own electorate chair, Stephen McElrea, as the political appointee to NZ on Air.

“Yet we now learn that Mr McElrea has been heavily involved in the commissioning of four documentaries funded by Air NZ to the tune of $1.1 million,” Clare Curran said.

“One of those, ‘Whanau Ora’, is a ‘behind the scenes look’ at the Government’s controversial ‘well-being’ policy, a programme with clear politically positive outcomes for the Government.

“This is the same Mr McElrea who complained about a similarly-funded documentary about poverty screening just before the election.

“The latest revelations show a clear conflict of interest and political influence within NZ on Air.

“Mr McElrea must either resign or be removed from the board in order for the agency to retain any integrity regarding its funding decisions and its function as the public broadcasting funding body.

“Attempts by the Prime Minister today to avoid answering questions on this issue saw new Broadcasting Minister Craig Foss acting as his fall guy, a situation which has rightly left the Government with egg on its face.

“John Key has twice publicly defended his electorate chair’s role as NZ on Air deputy chair saying: ‘If you look at the vast array of appointments we make, I think the balance is about right’.

“Clearly the balance isn’t right. The public deserves to know that it can trust the integrity of its institutions to spend tax-payers’ money ethically and that its members behave wisely,” Clare Curran said.


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