INDEPENDENT NEWS

Serious Concerns Over Maori Enrolment Programme

Published: Mon 26 Mar 2001 02:28 PM
A programme which pays contracted Maori organisations between $5 and $10.50 a head for enrolling or updating the enrolments of Maori voters raises serious questions, according to National MP Murray McCully.
Mr McCully has released the response to a Parliamentary Question he asked Associate Justice Minister Margaret Wilson, which reveals that $456,000 will be paid to the Maori Womens Welfare League and the Morehu Youth Movement, and that those organisations will also receive the 'per head' enrolment payments.
"The Minister's answer evades providing precise information about the sum to be paid to the Morehu Youth Trust. I want to know how big that contract is. I also share concerns expressed by Derek Fox this morning as to what steps were taken to manage the potential conflict of interest which arises from the Labour Party's close relationship with Ratana, since the Morehu Youth Movement is an offshoot of the Ratana Church.
"The practice of paying this 'electoral bounty' only for Maori enrolments is one that will not sit well with most New Zealanders. The Maori Electoral Option is merely part of the wider programme to ensure New Zealanders comply with their legal obligation to enrol. I want to be reassured that the effort being placed behind the Maori electoral enrolment programme is not so significant as to make it disproportionate to what is being done for the general population.
"Clearly, the Labour Party would benefit from any disproportionate activity of that sort, on the basis that they overwhelmingly receive support from Maori. The information being released by the Minister suggests that the Maori enrolment programme may be well out of proportion to the overall effort.
"The Electoral Enrolment Centre defend the programme on the basis that it is similar to the programme which was conducted in 1996 under a National Government. That does not make it right. Indeed, in 1996 the Centre had to cancel a contract with the Maori Womens Welfare League who were using tickets to Phantom of the Opera as an inducement to voters to go on the Maori Roll rather than the General Roll - and there was widespread suspicion as to the manner in which the programme was administered. Nothing appears to have been learnt from that experience," Murray McCully said.
Ends

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