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'Mates' abuse lottery grants fund

2000 web siteLabour MP Trevor Mallard has gone on the record to oppose the granting of $35,000 from the Minister of Internal Affair's lottery discretionary fund for the Hoani Waititi Kura Kaupapa haka group trip to China.

Trevor Mallard is a member of the Minister of Internal Affairs sub-committee of the Lotteries Board but said today that he does not support the Minister Jack Elder's decision to grant that amount of money for a school trip when the group had not raised most of the funds themselves.

He said he was also concerned that the Prime Minister's representative on the committee, Gerry Brownlee, has apparently also approved the grant.

"Very few schools get access to this fund and most of them seem to be in West Auckland where Mr Elder and Mr Henare both live. Of the $76,000 granted to schools from this fund in the last year, $75,000 has been to schools in this one area. This kind of local favouritism with funding that should be spread across the entire country has got to stop.

"The grant announced today is also an unprecedented proportion of overseas travel costs for a group being met. It cannot avoid the appearance of being funding for a mate. The fund only has $280,000 in it and grants to schools from it are normally smaller, and used to top up small funding shortfalls.

"It is my opinion that grants such as this jeopardise the purchase of lotto where at least one element of purchasing is that losing tickets contribute to good causes.

"My comments are no reflection on the Hoani Waititi Kura Kaupapa Maori Kapa Haka group which is renowned for its excellence. However, I am extremely concerned that the Minister of Maori Affairs and the Minister of Internal Affairs have worked together to break the precedents that have been established over a long period of time to support this application," Trevor Mallard said.

Trevor Mallard said he would not comment in detail on either the application or the applications relating to misleading the house which are currently before the Speaker.

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