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Committee report on the wrong track - Maharey

15 February 2001 Media Statement

Select Committee report on the wrong track says Maharey

Criticisms contained in the report of the Maori Affairs Select Committee into auditing and monitoring closing the gaps programmes are no longer valid, says Cabinet Social Equity Committee chair Steve Maharey.

The Government's programme to tackle social inequality has been clear and unambiguous since it was announced in the Speech from the Throne in December 1999.

Mr Maharey said there has been no subsequent dimunition of the programme although the Government has dropped the 'Closing the Gaps' slogan because polikiting by Opposition parties had made it an overly-loaded term.

"The Government does not accept the Committee's report. Addressing social and economic disparities within Maori and Pacific communities was always going to be subject to exacting evaluation.

"We have adopted a whole-of-government approach to tackling inequality across New Zealand society. Specific programmes have been funded in each department and we have set clear, unambiguous and concise targets and benchmarks to measure the success of those programmes.

"It is unfortunate that the Committee concluded its hearings before these benchmarks were publicly released during January as they provide exactly the means to measure progress which the Committee is calling for.

"It is also clear that the Government remains committed to tackling inequality amongst all New Zealanders and to targeting specific programmes at communities with the highest need.

"We do not resile from our commitment to address economic disparity amongst Maori and Pacific people, and indeed amongst all in our society. Our new programmes are developing very well. However, nor will we allow Opposition politicians to play the race card.

"The Government dropped the term 'Closing the Gaps' because Act and National sought to politicise the disadvantaged. We can assure New Zealanders that our work to deliver a fairer society continues undiminished," Steve Maharey said.

ENDS

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