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Pending Office Merger Ignores 92.7% Of Public

The Government has so far failed to respect the public's plea to maintain the independence status of the Race Relation Office, confirming the public submission process has been nothing more than a farce, National's Ethnic Affairs spokesperson Pansy Wong said today.

Ms Wong's comments follow today's announcement that Gregory Fortuin has been appointed as the new Race Relations Conciliator, with the Government starting moves to merge his office into the Human Rights Commission.

"I wish Mr Fortuin all the very best. He has some big shoes to fill, but his appointment could be undermined from day one with the Minister of Justice poised to ignore recent public submissions over the Government's plan to downgrade the status of the Office."

Margaret Wilson has received a total of 1,379 public submissions on the Re-evaluation of the Human Rights Protections in New Zealand. Of those, 95.6% (1,319) contained reference to the issue of absorbing the Race Relation Office into a redesigned national human right institution. At least 92.7% (1,278) opposed the loss of independence of the Race Relation Office.

"With the merger looking increasingly imminent, the Minister has already failed to demonstrate her utmost support to the new Conciliator by ignoring the overwhelming majority of public submissions which wanted the Office to remain independent.

"The Government has turned a deaf ear, with any talk of strengthening the Office just spin. Once again we are seeing from this Government endless inquiries and reviews eventuating into nothing more than token gestures," Ms Wong said


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