Chris Carter Parliamentary Debate Speech
Mr Speaker, this Saturday November 16 is International Day of Tolerance.
I fear this day has taken on new meaning in our country.
It has done so because of Winston Peters' repulsive speech at the NZ First Conference last weekend.
In that speech Mr Peters made outrageous and factually incorrect allegations about New Zealand's ethnic communities, and the impact of immigration on our country.
Today, Mr Speaker, I am calling on Mr Peters to apologise to our peaceful, hard-working ethnic families.
I think International Day of Tolerance would be an appropriate time for him to do so.
Tolerance Day was declared by the United Nations seven years ago precisely because of the rising level of intolerance and discrimination being levelled against minorities, refugees and migrants.
In other words, it was an attempt to shame people with exactly the kind of prejudices Mr Peters flaunts.
Make no mistake, Mr Speaker, Mr Peters should be ashamed.
He owes an apology.
His disgusting comments have upset and offended many people the length and breadth of this country.
Mr Speaker, many commentators in the media and this Parliament have explained Mr Peter's intolerant approach to ethnic people as simply the actions of an opportunistic politician.
They are right, of course. Mr Peters has looked at the international stage and seen the success of other right-wing nationalists such as France's Jean-Marie Le Penn, Jeorg Haider in Austria, and of course Pauline Hanson In Australia.
No doubt a poll by the National Business Review last week played a considerable role in his decision to make the divisive comments he did.
That poll showed about 45% of people felt there were too many Asians in New Zealand, compared with 44% who thought there was "just about the right number".
I have news for Mr Peters.
This poll does not justify his position on immigration.
New analysis shows that it does quite the opposite.
Auckland University associate professor Manying Ip has found that in 1995 the same poll showed that in fact 51 % of people felt there were too many Asians in New Zealand.
That means that FEWER NOT MORE people now think we have too many Asian people in NZ.
Not only that but just 36 % of people in 1995 thought immigration was about right.
That means MORE people now think that Asian immigration is about right than they did seven years ago.
No one in this House will be surprised to learn, Mr Speaker, that statistics is not the only thing Mr Peters has got wrong.
On Saturday, he went so far as to compare New Zealand to Kosovo, Sri Lanka and Northern Ireland.
This was somehow supposed to help race relations in New Zealand.
Clearly, Mr Peters has an appalling understanding of history.
The conflict in those countries is rooted in long standing historical grievances. A better, more accurate comparison would be Canada, Australia or Brazil in which ethnic communities have had positive impact, bolstering societies and economies.
Race riots have only a remote likelihood of occuring in New Zealand if Mr Peters incites them.
As we've learned this week the economic damage he may do to our country to get himself re-elected could be monumental.
I say again, Mr Speaker, he owes apologies - to ethnic people, and to his country.
I urge him to use Tolerance Day to make those apologies.
Because God knows the rest of us have tolerated him long enough.