Taxpayers to cover travelling iwi after cancelled signing
Taxpayers will cover costs for hundreds of iwi members who have had to cancel plans to travel to Wellington to witness Treaty settlements.
The signing was put on hold after an objection from New Zealand First.
New Zealand First leader Winston Peters was a no show at question time on Wednesday, leaving deputy Ron Mark to cop the flak.
Mr Peters had a phone call and showed up half an hour late - the timing was simply perfect.
"I was waiting for a very important call from overseas," he said.
But what's not perfect timing is Parliament extending its sitting hours to include this Friday, in order to sign off Treaty Settlements totalling almost a quarter of a billion dollars.
It's business the Government says is being held to ransom by New Zealand First.
"It's a stunt, it's got the guy in the headlines. He's out there again, using words like constitutional outrage etcetera," complained Minister Gerry Brownlee.
Mr Peters argues the Bills contain errors, including specific wording.
"The provisions for appointed non-voted people on the committees is back in the legislation," he says.
"There's never really been a correlation between the word 'merit' and Winston Peters," says Minister Chris Finlayson. "No, he's just got things completely wrong."
NZ First knows the Government has the numbers to pass the settlements - but that's not stopping Mr Peters from holding up a stop sign.
"Foot the bill, Winston," says Māori Party co-leader Marama Fox.
"This is nothing more than a stunt, and you can pull out any little thing you can find to try and validate your stance - but this is a stunt, and nothing more."
The Treaty Settlement Bills will remain on the order paper, essentially going back into the line, and with the Government's legislative schedule full for the rest of the year, these five iwi will be waiting for some time.