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Lee's refusal to apologise sign of hostility

Nick Smith National MP

7 November 2000

Lee's refusal to apologise sign of hostility

Associate Maori Affairs Minister Sandra Lee's refusal to apologise in Parliament today shows that the Government has divided into two hostile camps and that she does not view the Prime Minister as her leader, National MP Nick Smith said today.

"Ms Lee issued a clear challenge to Helen Clark's authority when she dismissed the Prime Minister's edict not to use the term 'holocaust', as it hadn't come from her own leader.

"This was a deliberate defiance of the Prime Minister from a senior Cabinet Minister and of the convention that all Ministers are responsible to the Prime Minister.

"The Prime Minister's edict was made very clear when Tariana Turia was forced to apologise in the House for her use of the word. Sandra Lee's bloody-mindedness not to follow the same path highlights the deep divisions within the Coalition.

"The Government is being inconsistent. Tariana Turia was widely condemned and forced to apologise for the use of the word. Why do the same rules not apply to the more senior minister, Sandra Lee?

"New Zealanders are outraged at the use of the word 'holocaust' in relation to Maori and Ms Lee's repeated use of the term is offensive to holocaust survivors. It also reinforces the perception that the Government is extreme on Maori issues and has lost a sense of perspective with respect to Maori grievances.

"The attitude of Ms Lee and her silenced colleague Tariana Turia will divide New Zealanders and do nothing but harm race relations in this country," Dr Smith said.

Ends

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