Audit of Human Rights Commission Comments Sought
ACT Justice Spokesman Stephen Franks is asking the Race Relations Conciliator to audit public utterances made by Human Rights Commissioners in the past few years so that the public can be satisfied the Commission is untainted by racism.
"I have written to Gregory Fortuin in light of his proposal last week to screen comments made by 'high profile' New Zealanders for racism. It is very important before such action is taken that the Human Rights Commission has its own house in order. Clearly the actions of Ella Henry would cast doubts on that.
"Margaret Wilson, in selecting her Commissioners, omitted the usual consultation process with opposition parties to ensure multi-partisan support. The result was the appointment of some of her politically correct cronies ' presumably as part of Ms Wilson's plan to make covert changes to our constitution.
"Ms Henry was one of Ms Wilson's appointments. Regardless of the way Ms Henry was quickly dispatched after discovery of her grossly unwise actions, a racist cloud has now been hung over the commission.
"I hope Mr Fortuin will accede to my request. If he and the Commission are determined to scrutinise the comments of 'high profile' New Zealanders, the Commission's own backyard must first be seen to be clean," Mr Franks said.
24 August 2001
Race Relations Conciliator
PO Box 12-411
Monitoring Racist Speech
I have reflected on our conversation earlier this week. I agree that you need to establish early that you are entirely even-handed in these matters, and that you will not shrink from calling a racist spade what it is, whoever is using it.
You want to establish moral authority as a person pushing only one barrow, the cause of New Zealanders who want our government to be colour blind. Then race and culture are simply matters of individual choice and expression. If you insist on people being treated as infinitely variable individuals, not Maori or Pakeha, you will have the moral authority to combat the instinctive racists. You will need all that authority (and luck) to deal with the more sinister mob, those who calculatedly foster race consciousness to advance their own political ambitions.
You plan to review comments of public figures over an extended period, to look for patterns of racist bias, or even unwise though unintended incitement of racism. In view of the controversy surrounding Associate Minister of Justice Margaret Wilson's selection of Human Rights Commissioners, and today's resignation of Ella Henry I suggest you would do the Commission a service, and advance the objectives of your office, by running your vetting ruler first over the utterances of your fellow Commissioners.
You (and the Commission) could gain substantial moral authority if you could stand before Maori and Pakeha New Zealanders to say that the Commission's own backyard is clean before appearing to threaten free political speech of others.
I think this is particularly important because the Hon. Margaret Wilson in selecting her Commissioners omitted the usual consultation process with opposition parties to ensure multi-partisan support.
For good reason she is suspected of despising parts of our current constitution. She is known to have a PC social engineering agenda. In these circumstances the mana of the Commission as an impartial body will be hard to establish anyway. My preliminary analysis of the so called restructuring Bill, the Human Rights Amendment, introduced last week indicates your Race Relations Office will be subservient, and unavoidably contaminated by the contempt the Commission may deserve.
If you can collect and publish the recorded statements of new Commissioners, assuming they show the fair-mindedness we should all expect, you will have served the Commission well.
Stephen Franks MP
ACT New Zealand
PS Do you agree with Rajen Prasad's statements on Tairawhiti Polytechnic? I believe that mild criticism of material like that reported to have been used at Tairawhiti represents a greater threat to racial tolerance than the occasional utterances of some public figures who may be in your sights.