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Demise Of Office Outrages Ethnic Communities

It is totally unacceptable that the Government has not actively sought the views of ethnic communities on the proposed demise of the independent status of the Race Relations Office, National's Ethnic Affairs spokesperson Pansy Wong said today.

Outrage expressed by ethnic New Zealanders has led Mrs Wong to send a written submission. Submissions close tomorrow.

"Ethnic communities are disgusted that their views on the future status of the Office have neither been sought nor respected in the Government's discussion paper. The process has been flawed, with representative organisations of ethnic communities excluded from the 'focused consultation process'.

"Let's not forget that the Office today is so much more than an entity that handles race relations issues between Pakeha and Maori. Ethnic communities are at last feeling encouraged that their complaints and concerns are being heard and addressed by the Office.

"Dr Prasad, in particular, has toured the country discussing a vision forward for our growing multi-ethnic society. His office has done much work on educating the public, yet regrettably both the panel and the Ministry do not appear to be familiar with Office's educational role.

Associate Justice Minister Margaret Wilson last year indicated her preference to do away with the independent status of the Race Relation Office and instead swallow it up as part of a new human rights body. This resulted in the normally 'silent' ethnic communities putting forward around 1,100 written submissions.

"The views of ethnic Kiwis must not be sidelined or ignored. New Zealand is at a crossroads. On the issue of race relations, this Government can't afford to send out any more wrong signals," Mrs Wong said.

Ends

A printable formatted copy of this press release will be available on http://www.national.org.nz along with an archive of previous releases.


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