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Give Maori Credit, Labour

Give Maori Credit, Labour

ACT New Zealand Maori Affairs Spokesman Stephen Franks today reiterated support for National's call to abolish Maori seats, and called on the Government to stop treating Maori like second-class citizens incapable of succeeding in the modern world.

"The Government's refusal to abolish Maori seats is evidence of Labour's belief that Maori are not capable of being elected to Parliament when running against `superior' non-Maori candidates," Mr Franks said.

"The reservation of seats for Maori gave us such statesmen as Sir Apirana Ngata, Sir James Carroll and Sir Peter Buck, at a time when the social climate made it difficult for Maori to gain a voice in Parliament. That time, however, has passed. Labour's free ride has had negative results for Maori - more recent incumbents of Maori seats have often been an embarrassment, not held to account by their trusting constituents, nor held to the standards applied to other MPs.

"Labour must deny the idea that Maori could get into Parliament on their own merits, which is why they will not give them the opportunity - why would they, when they have so much to gain from guaranteed seats?

"Yet what does the Government give Maoridom in return? Scraps of obscure policy, a television network that no one will be able to tune into and a culture of entrenched welfare dependency - all under the guise of helping an otherwise `weaker' people.

"Whatever face Labour tries to put on it, having Maori seats is nothing more than blatant racism - albeit dressed up in pretty buzzwords and token gestures. New Zealand is supposed to be a country where everyone is equal, and subject to the same laws. It is time for Labour to begin treating us as such, and stop acting like a benevolent conqueror," Mr Franks said.

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