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Office merger goes against ethnic wishes

Pansy Wong National Ethnic Affairs Spokesperson

31 May 2001

Office merger goes against ethnic wishes

The Government has turned its back on ethnic New Zealanders' overwhelming plea to maintain the independent status of the Race Relations Office, National's Ethnic Affairs spokesperson Pansy Wong said today.

Ms Wong's comments follow today's Government announcement that the Race Relations Office will be merged into the Human Rights Commission.

"Ethnic New Zealanders clearly showed during the submission process that they did not want the status of the Office downgraded, yet that's exactly what the Associate Justice Minister has overseen

A few months back, Margaret Wilson received 1,379 public submissions in response to the Government's discussion paper '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 Relations Office into a redesigned national human right institution. An astounding 92.7% (1,278) opposed the loss of independence of the Race Relations Office.

"The normally 'silent' ethnic communities sent in almost all of those opposing submissions disgusted that their views on the future status of the Office had neither been sought nor respected in the discussion paper.

"The written submissions from ethnic New Zealanders, including our Ethnic Council, obviously meant nothing to this Government. Once again it has made a mockery of the public consultation process.

"Like our ethnic communities around the country, National refuses to believe Margaret Wilson's spin that the merger will strengthen the Office," Ms Wong said.

Ends

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