Tariana Turia’s privatisation by stealth of welfare for Maori, known as Whanau Ora, was an open invitation to fraud. Money was signed over to groups with no track record and no plan. It’s finally caught up with her as New Zealand First, Women’s Refuge, and the Greens team up to reveal Turia’s lies and willful blindness over reported fraud in Palmerston North.
It kicked off with an accusation from Winston Peters that a Women’s Refuge centre in Palmerston North that is specially for Maori and receives Whanau Ora money had been audited and that report found evidence of fraud. Peters said that Tariana Turia must be aware of this issue and demanded to know why she hadn’t acted.
In typically cowardly style, Turia didn’t bother to show up and answer questions from Peters on this issue, although Paula Bennett answering on her behalf said she hadn’t been aware of the issue and Turia affirmed that line in a press release. She also claimed that this Women’s Refuge has nothing to do with Whanau Ora.
(btw, I wonder if Turia was the other Maori MP absent along with Pita Sharples, which led to a tie-result – which is a defeat in Parliament – on the Members’ Bill to ban depleted Uranium).
Now, we know that was a lie. The Refuge did get Whanau Ora money. And that’s why the National Women’s Refuge Collective met with Turia over the issue.
You can get away with lying as a minister, as long as you don’t get caught in black and white. But Turia has been caught. She is now a proven liar. And she’ll have to go.
But will Key have the guts? Or will he judge the risk to the stability of his government too great, and turn a blind eye to Turia, giving her permission to run a programme riddled with fraud while lying to the people of New Zealand?
I don’t need to tell you which way I think this will play out. Key’s already proven with John Banks that his support partners’ ministers are above the rules.