Tariana Turia is making hollow threats to leave the government but she might be pushed first. Winston Peters has wasted no time showing how opposition politics is done, using his first question time back to skewer Turia, exposing the massive rorting her Whanau Ora programme. Turia made a slush fund for her mates with our money. She has to go.
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) to the Prime Minister: Does he have confidence in all his Ministers?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister) : Yes.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Would the Prime Minister have confidence in the Minister for Whanau Ora if he found out that the Minister is promoting public funding being diverted from those in genuine need to those who most certainly are not?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I have complete confidence in the Minister for Whanau Ora. I think the project is in its infancy, but it will seek to help many families for which the system is currently not working.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Does the Prime Minister think it appropriate that a person who owns a chain of successful businesses in the Wellington area should have his family reunion paid for by the—quote—“Whānau Integration, Innovation and Engagement Fund”, and what could that possibly be about?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I do not have any details in relation to that. If the member wants to put it down to the relevant Minister, which is the Minister for Whanau Ora, he is welcome to do so.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Does he, or does he not, read the various reports from Ministers whom he is meant to be the overseeing Minister of, such as the Whānau Ora: Transforming our futures paper, which itemises the very example of a business person picking up this money for a family reunion, when there are so many Māori in need around this country?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I read as many of the papers as I can, but as I said to the member, if he has a detailed question, he can put it down to the Minister in question.
That, folks, is how you ask questions in the House.
Peters says that as much as $6 million of Whanau Ora money is going into things like family reunions.
This money wasn’t manna (or mana) from heaven. It was taken from actual working community programmes and put in Turia’s slush fund. This was taxpayers money, which, rather than going to families in need, is going to middle-class people with the right connections for a purely private purpose – hosting parties for their families and mates.
Read the funding guidelines for the “Whänau Integration, Innovation and Engagement Fund” here (you can get $5,000 just to write your ‘whanau plan’) and the story of Johni Rutene here (page 9) – on top of the $5,000 he’s already got, we could be handing him another $20,000 to hold six parties next year.
The government’s cutting early childhood education, police training, breakfasts for poor kids, and a hundred and one other vital programmes at the same time as Turia’s using your money to fund piss ups and to let middle class people indulge themselves.
Turia (and the other two remaining Maori Party MPs) didn’t bother to show up in Parliament today. When she does, she’s going to have serious questions to answer about what other abuses of the $230m Whanau Ora budget she is facilitating.
If Key lets Turia keep her ministerial warrants, he is condoning this behaviour.