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Peters Is Destroying New Zealand's Reputation

10 November 2002 Media Statement

Peters Is Destroying New Zealand's Reputation

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters is destroying New Zealand's proud reputation for tolerance and open mindedness, Ethnic Affairs Minister Chris Carter said today.

"Peters' notion that new immigrants to our country should leave their culture at border is extraordinary. What kind of people are we if we can't accommodate difference and celebrate diversity?"

"We have a proud history as a tolerant and open-minded nation. New Zealand has fought racial hatred around the globe ever since the Second World War. Now a desperate politician threatens to besmirch our reputation for his own personal gain," Mr Carter said.

He said Peters' suggestion that New Zealand was heading down the path of Kosovo, Sri Lanka and Northern Ireland demonstrated a complete ignorance of history.

"The only thing these countries have had in common with New Zealand is the unfortunate existence of demogogues intent on destroying social harmony," Mr Carter said.

"Race riots have only a remote likelihood of occuring in New Zealand if some one like Peters incites them.

"We should debate the value of immigration but this debate should be rational and based on facts," Mr Carter said.

"It should not demonise responsible people who are simply trying to get a head in life. Ethnic peoples contribute to the social, cultural and economic enrichment of our country."

He said Peters was also jeopordising New Zealand's economic well-being with his approach.

"Peters seems to be saying it is okay to trade with Asia but it is not okay for them to visit here, live here or study here. What is China, the fastest growing economy in the world, to make of such an attitude?

"Let us not forget that New Zealand is built on immigration. We have Chinese who are fifth and sixth generation New Zealanders. Their families have lived here for over 140 years. Thanks to NZ First, these kiwis are starting to feel like unwelcome strangers in the only home they know," Mr Carter said.

"Make no mistake, Peters' repeated attacks on ethnic people are the acts of a
desperate politician looking for a headline. He has only one policy and it is based on populism and prejudice. I'm sure that most New Zealanders will see this for what it is, blatant scaremongering."


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