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Commissioner tries to hide from own Act

Commissioner tries to hide from own Act

A bid by the Race Relations Commissioner to claim immunity from the Race Relations legislation to duck a complaint against his Taleban speech is a double standard of breathtaking proportions, says National MP Murray McCully.

Mr McCully lodged a formal complaint with the Commissioner following the speech last year, which likened the actions of non Maori New Zealanders to those of the Taleban in Afghanistan.

"The Commission's spent three-and-a-half months, and goodness knows how much in legal fees, ducking and weaving to try and avoid the very legislation it's so keen to impose on other New Zealanders," he says.

The Human Rights Commission, of which the Race Relations Commissioner is a member, has written to Mr McCully asserting that "s130 of the HRA provides a bar to any complaint to the Human Rights Review Tribunal in relation to any statement by a Commissioner made in good faith in the exercise of his or her duty as a Commissioner."

Signed by Chief Commissioner, Rosslyn Noonan, the letter goes on "The immunity provided by s130 of the HRA does not appear to allow for this immunity to be waived either by the Race Relations Commissioner or the Commission on his behalf."

Mr McCully says the Commission's actions are "a total outrage."

"For Commissioners to attempt to escape from the provisions of their own legislation is a complete abuse of the Act and opens the whole Human Rights Act framework to public ridicule.

"S130 of the Human Rights Act was clearly intended to provide some protection for Commissioners, acting in a quasi-judicial role, in dealing with formal complaints before them. To suggest that this extend to every half-baked speech any Commissioner chooses to give is patently ridiculous.

"What makes this matter even more dangerous is Margaret Wilson's axing of the previous convention of non partisanship and consultation with other political parties in relation to these appointments. The idea that political activists can be appointed Commissioners and then seek refuge for their partisan utterances in some bogus interpretation of their Act is contemptible."

Mr McCully says he is taking legal advice and intends launching a legal challenge to the Commission.

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