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Is Tariana Turia Speaking For The Govt?

The Prime Minister must reject out of hand the Associate Minister of Maori Affairs' views on colonisation, the Treaty and the position of Maori, Opposition Leader Jenny Shipley said today.

"Comments like Tariana Turia's widen gaps rather than close them. They have the potential to cause huge division and seriously damage race relations in New Zealand.

"Her latest bombshell has thrown petrol into an already sensitive area. Helen Clark must make it clear to New Zealanders where the Government stands.

"As a Minister outside Cabinet Tariana Turia is part of the Executive and is bound by the convention of collective responsibility.

"On the face of it, when she speaks as a Minister she is speaking on behalf of the Government. As a Minister, she must represent Government policy.

"In the past Helen Clark has made allowances for Tariana Turia, saying she was 'inexperienced.'

"The Prime Minister cannot ignore these comments. She must make an unequivocal statement about whether she supports the Minister's views or not. If not, she should censure her Minister immediately, before she does more damage to race relations in New Zealand.

"This event builds on others which are causing real disquiet.

"If Tariana Turia is indeed driving Government policy toward Maori then New Zealanders have real reason for concern. We are seeing the Treaty being written into the health legislation, which could have all sorts of consequences.

"While all political parties in my experience are genuinely committed to closing the gaps that exist in health, welfare, education and employment, this won't be achieved by rewriting history," Mrs Shipley said.

Ends

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