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National Fails To Take Ethnic Affairs Seriously

12 February 2001 Media Statement

National Fails To Take Ethnic Affairs Seriously

The latest ranking of National's spokesperson for Ethnic Affairs, Pansy Wong, shows how the National Party fails to take the portfolio seriously.

"Ranked at number 29 Pansy Wong would not make it into Cabinet, nor would she have an effective voice in lobbying for New Zealand's Ethnic community," Minister for Ethnic Affairs Hon. George Hawkins said.

"Pansy Wong was elected as a National Party List MP in 1996. Now in her fifth year in Parliament, she has failed yet again to elevate Ethnic issues beyond the backbench.

"It must be disappointing to thousands of Ethnic New Zealanders that the opposition National Party once again has barely made a token effort on their behalf," George Hawkins said.

"It must be remembered that National, when it was in government, failed to advance Ethnic representation within the community.

"In contrast, this Labour/Alliance Government has strengthened the office of Ethnic Affairs, has established an Auckland office of Ethnic Affairs, has allocated $674,000 over 18 months for piloting support services to help new resident migrants settle in New Zealand, has increased funding for ESOL [English to Speakers of Other Languages], and has moved to resolve difficulties for immigrant doctors," George Hawkins said.

"These are all issues that the National-led government ought to have done years ago. It failed to do so. Its lack of action displayed how the National Party has never considered the needs of Ethnic New Zealanders a priority.

"Pansy Wong's ranking must be a personal disappointment to her, but it is more of a disappointment to Ethnic communities that the opposition has again failed them," George Hawkins said.

ENDS

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