NZ on Air clears Lee

NZ on Air have stated:

A report conducted by NZ On Air into funding of Asia Downunder has found that the agency was not misled, and that there is no evidence public funding was misused.

Not misled and no evidence of misuse.

NZ On Air is satisfied that Ms Lee did not have editorial control for Asia Downunder programmes dealing with political matters, and that the systems put in place were robust, managed well by TVNZ  and Ms Jean, and willingly complied with by Ms Lee.

NZ On Air was not misled at any stage about Ms Lee’s intentions to stand for Parliament.

NZ On Air is satisfied that public funds intended for production of Asia Downunder were not misused.

They have also published their full report into the allegations. In the report they note TV3 did not contact NZ on Air before broadcasting the allegations.

They also note there a specific reference to the candidacy in the 26 August funding application.

So who should be apologing to Melissa Lee for their smears against her? Let us start with Phil Goff and his press release:

Does Melissa Lee’s use of taxpayer money to make the National Party video, including payment for the cost of staff and equipment, constitute a misuse of public funds?

Now note Goff stated as a fact that Lee used taxpayer money to make the video. That was wrong and he should apologise.

But worse is what Trevor Mallard said in Parliament:

Hon Phil Goff: Has the Prime Minister asked the Minister of Broadcasting to examine whether there have been any conflicts of interest or misuse of NZ On Air money to produce party political advertisements?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: That would have been a matter for the previous Prime Minister to address, because the events being referred to, which were outside the House, occurred under the Labour Minister of Broadcasting.

Hon Trevor Mallard: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER: All around the House there will be order. A point of order is being taken.

Hon Trevor Mallard: I do take personal exception to that. If someone stole money on my watch—

Mallard is clearly implying that Lee stole money. He din’t quite state it explicitly but everyone knows what he meant.

Hon Trevor Mallard: I just want to make it clear that I regard as a personal reflection on me the suggestion that I should have stopped Melissa Lee using NZ On Air funding when she did not declare it.

NZ on Air have made it very clear her candidacy was declared and known.

and earlier:

Hon Trevor Mallard: As the former Minister of Broadcasting, I say that if that matter had been properly declared it would have been declared to me. Melissa Lee did not do so.

Yet NZ on Air say:

12. In late August 2008 NZ On Air received a funding application from AVL for production of the 2009 series in time for NZ On Air’s main ‘special interest’ funding round in October 2008. Funding applications for all special interest series planned for 2009 were required to be made to this round so NZ On Air could adequately assess competing proposals.

13. The application specifically stated that if Ms Lee entered Parliament she would stand down from producing the 2009 series if the funding application was successful, and that a permanent replacement producer for the show would be


AVL’s application for funding, received by NZ On Air on 26 August 2008, specifically stated that if Ms Lee entered Parliament she would stand down from producing the 2009 series, and that a permanent replacement producer for the show would be appointed.

If Goff and Mallard had just asked the Government if allegations were true, then that would be a different matter. But they both stated allegations as facts, and they got it wrong. Will either or both of them apologise?

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