INDEPENDENT NEWS

ACT Letter To Maherey: Demanding Public Apology

Published: Thu 8 Jan 2004 10:30 AM
ACT Letter To Maherey: Demanding Public Apology
Hon Steve Maharey Minister for Social Development and Employment
Dear Mr Maharey
Demand for Public Apology
I write to demand an immediate full public apology for your personal attack on ACT in the media.
You have accused the ACT party of "continuing to Maori-bash". Your attack is racist.
The ACT parliamentary unit has produced professional research that finds government sponsored research claiming Maori receive less in government transfers than Maori pay in tax is wrong.
The ACT research that found there is an annual net transfer to Maori of $5 billion a year is accurate. ACT has used data from the parliamentary library, and the government's own data to produce the report.
Nowhere in the ACT unit's report is there any "Maori-bashing", racist comments or any statement that could be objected to.
In my own comments, I have criticised this type of racial profiling. I have pointed out that while the $5 billion a year total is the equivalent of every Maori receiving $8000 a year, it does not mean that every Maori receives more in benefits than they pay in tax. Many Maori pay the 39-cent tax rate.
I have pointed out the Maori tax/benefit gap is being paid by everyone who works, Maori and non-Maori.
The size of the transfer, eight times the total Waitangi settlements to date, means we need to hold an intelligent debate on Maori policy. ACT thinks our research indicates the government's policies are failing.
I accuse Labour Ministers of using reverse racism to prevent any scrutiny of Labour policies.
Helen Clark accused ACT of being "fanatics" and promoting racial division just for having checked the accuracy of Labour's research. The Minister of Maori Affairs, Parekura Horomia, on Christmas day, accused ACT of Maori-bashing.
Now you have repeated the attack.
Cabinet Ministers should be leading by example. No one should be called racist in a multi-racial country without very strong justification. I believe your actions are designed to promote racial discord and are therefore illegal under the Human Rights Act 1993.
I ask you to carefully reconsider and to apologise to me, the ACT parliamentary staff, and to the ACT party.
Then in 2004 we can have a meaningful and much needed debate on how government can assist Maori to be successful; something all thoughtful New Zealanders favour.
Yours sincerely
Hon Richard Prebble CBE Leader ACT New Zealand

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