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Cullen must apologise for 'racist' remark

Dr Lynda Scott National Party Kaikoura MP

28 August 2003

Cullen must apologise for 'racist' remark

National Party MP Dr Lynda Scott says Michael Cullen must apologise to Marlborough Mayor Tom Harrison for calling him a 'racist'.

"Dr Cullen has it completely wrong," says the Kaikoura MP.

"Tom Harrison wasn't even on the Council when the issues with local Maori surfaced.

"It's telling that Dr Cullen is refusing to repeat his comments outside the House, thereby depriving Mr Harrison of any avenue to challenge the Deputy Prime Minister's allegations.

"This is personal politics at its worst.

"Mr Harrison deserves to have his voice heard in Parliament, he has written to the Speaker of the House asking as much and his points are valid.

"Dr Cullen spoke of the 'Marlborough Regional Council' there is no Marlborough Regional Council, Tom Harrison is the Mayor of the Marlborough District Council," says Dr Scott.

"Despite claims to the contrary, Mr Harrison's council does undertake extensive consultation with local Maori.

"Importantly, the original claim by local iwi for customary title to the forshore and seabed was made in 1996 - before Mr Harrison's time," Dr Scott says.

"I'm personally uncomfortable about why the Government held back on its criticism of the Marlborough Council until after it had released its foreshore and seabed plan.

"Until then the Government seemed supportive," says Dr Scott.

"On June 11, the Prime Minister appeared to congratulate the Marlborough Council for challenging the Court of Appeal decision on the foreshore and seabed when she said 'I think it's probably prudent that they have decided to put in an appeal'.

"This Government has a track record that shows it regularly accuses groups and people of racism when they disagree with Labour's divisive agenda.

"If New Zealand is to have an informed debate about race relations, name calling will not help in the search for constructive conclusions," Dr Scott says.

Ends


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