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No double standard for Maori public servants

5 August 2004

Tamihere: no double standard for Maori public servants

Associate Maori Affairs Minister John Tamihere says he rejects the double standard for Maori public servants proposed by Maori Party leader Tariana Turia.

Maori public servants must meet the same standards of political neutrality and accountability as their non-Maori counterparts, Mr Tamihere said.

"Even when Ms Turia was a minister she wanted a separate standard: 'I can break the rules any time I want because I'm a Maori,' and she supports Maori public servants doing the same. I don't, for a number of reasons.

"The Labour Department's Community Employment Group has huge relationships in the communities I serve in Tamaki Makaurau. The CEG northern regional manager approves applications for funding worth hundreds of thousands of dollars in those communities.

"The CEG has a database identifying all the movers and shakers in those communities – and they were called to a hui called by the northern regional manager, acting as regional co-ordinator for the Maori Party. There is an underlying duress under which they may have felt obliged to attend for fear that their applications would not be treated favourably.

I had concern about the use of public service databases, office space, telephones, equipment and cars to call, host and manage a hui for the Maori Party. The CEG was not set up to resource and manage the Maori Party. As MP for the area, I cannot defend that use of that public resource in that way.

"Nor do I accept the excuse that many Maori public servants are obliged to be politically active as leaders in their own tribes. If they are a chief, they should go back to their tribe for funding," Mr Tamihere said.

ENDS

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