20 Oct 2009

English 'doesn't recall' rugby bid talk with Sharples

10:27 pm on 20 October 2009

Finance Minister Bill English says he does not recall the detail of discussions he had with Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples over the Maori Television Service's bid for free-to-air broadcasting rights for the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

Dr Sharples says he told Mr English about his ministry putting up $3 million of taxpayer money for the bid in June this year.

However, Mr English says he has conversations with a number of ministers on a daily basis. He says he has not looked back to check on the detail of the discussion with Dr Sharples, and does not recall what was said.

Maori Television, Television New Zealand and TV 3 have now teamed up to bid to televise the 2011 tournament.

Meanwhile, Labour Party leader Phil Goff says the Government should not be involved in the joint bid.

Mr Goff made the comment during an urgent debate in Parliament on Tuesday on the Government's decision to give financial backing to the bid.

Mr Goff told the House that government ministers should not have interfered in the bidding process.

Associate Minister for the Rugby World Cup Gerry Brownlee told MPs the Government has made sure that every New Zealander will be able to see the games on free-to-air television.

The tournament will be held in New Zealand from 9 September, with the final being played at Eden Park in Auckland on 23 October 2011.