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Turia Gives Maori 'Hobson's Choice'

Turia Gives Maori 'Hobson's Choice'

Associate Maori Affairs Minister Tariana Turia's decision to force a by-election may excite people who enjoy political trouble for Labour, but it is hard to see a good outcome for New Zealand, ACT New Zealand Maori Affairs Spokesman Stephen Franks said today.

"She shouldn't have been in Cabinet after repeated assertionsthat her duty was to advance the interests of `her people' - Ministers should act in the interests of all New Zealanders. Tolerating her conflict of interests has set precedents that could be used by less well-meaning politicians," Mr Franks said.

"Maori may now send Labour a message by voting for Ms Turia's new party. That will cement them into a political ghetto. Thousands of votes in a race-based party will mean other parties can ignore Maori interests, as long as they don't hold the balance of power. Worse, the race party representatives can ignore the issues all New Zealanders share, and focus solely on those that distinguish and divide.

"Race-voted seats are always a bad idea. But at least when a mainstream party holds them, their MPs have some contact with the issues affecting everybody. When held by race extremists they are dangerous. Race-based seats must go," Mr Franks said.

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