INDEPENDENT NEWS

United Future still assessing Maori TV Bill

Published: Tue 3 Dec 2002 02:45 PM
United Future still assessing Maori TV Bill
The United Future party is still assessing the Maori Television Bill and has yet to indicate to the Government that it will support the bill.
“And this,” Maori affairs spokesman Murray Smith says, “is a primary reason why Labour has not yet brought the bill up the Order Paper and is unlikely to do so before next year.”
Mr Smith said that United Future had a number of concerns with the proposal for a Maori Television station and Labour would not further the parliamentary debate on the Bill until they had the numbers to guarantee that it would pass.
Chief among United Future’s concerns was the risk that the service would prove to be a bottomless pit into which the Government poured money year after year without seeing any tangible benefit for Maori or for New Zealand as a whole.
Up until now, Mr Smith’s requests for researched responses to sensible commercial questions such as the likely audience demand for the station have fallen on deaf ears.
In a recent well-publicised exchange, the Chairman of the proposed service, Derek Fox, accused Mr Smith of “not understanding Maori” when Mr Smith pushed that line of questioning during Mr Fox’s attendance at a Maori Affairs select committee meeting.
Mr Smith stated that whilst he was well known to be very sympathetic to Maori aspirations, it would be totally counter-productive to the interests of Maori to have the Television Service fail yet again at huge cost to the taxpayer.
“It would just make Maori look commercially incompetent and fuel the cause of those who are upset at all the money being spent by the Government in trying to help Maori achieve the same standard of living as other New Zealanders,” he said.
In briefing sessions with the Minister of Maori Affairs, Parekura Horomia, Mr Smith has been discussing other options such as paying regional television to broadcast programmes produced by the proposed Maori Television Service, at least until the demand among Maori for those programmes could be ascertained.

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