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PM Should Say Just What Closing the Gaps Means

PM Should Say Just What Closing the Gaps Means

Wednesday 24th Jan 2001 Ken Shirley Media Release -- Governance & Constitution

ACT’s Acting Leader Ken Shirley said tonight the Prime Minister should stop playing with words and honestly tell all New Zealanders what the coalition Government’s flagship Closing the Gaps Policy really means for them.

“Helen Clark’s fumbled attempts at assuaging Maori criticism at Ratana Pa today were very revealing.

“In the speech from the Throne, the Closing the Gaps programme was described as measures to close the gaps between Maori, Pacific Islanders and other people. But last year the Prime Minister retreated quickly in the face of public opinion opposing the Government’s race-based policies in the programme.

“In a dramatic policy change stoked by the public opinion Ms Clark said the policy was in fact to close the gaps between the disadvantaged and the rest – regardless of race. Some of the Prime Minister’s colleagues even managed to convince themselves this was so, and closing the gaps became a banned expression.

“However today, at Ratana Pa, becoming increasingly worried about losing the crucial support of Maori, Helen Clark has done another policy flip. The policy hasn’t changed, she says, just the name.

“The day is long gone when a New Zealand politician can say one thing in Winton and something contradictory in Whangarei. Helen Clark has simply been caught out.

“New Zealanders are owed a full explanation of just what this Government is going to do with the Closing the Gaps policy – or whatever it wants to call it,” said Ken Shirley.


For more information visit ACT online at or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at

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