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Labour Should Sack Rather Than Back Envoy

15 June 2005

'"Labour Backs 'Sorry' Envoy" should read "Labour Sacks 'Sorry' Envoy"

Tariana Turia, Co-leader, Maori Party;

"The comments that the embarrassed Minister of Foreign Affairs, Phil Goff has made in relation to diplomat Graham Kelly (describing his remarks as light-hearted' and not 'intended to cause offence') demonstrate this Government's blatant disregard for our international standing".

"Racism is not a laughing matter" said Tariana Turia, co-leader of the Maori Party.

"This country has already come under the international microscope from the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination finding that the Foreshore and Seabed Bill contained "discriminatory aspects against the Maori".

"We are now facing a situation where the New Zealand High Commissioner has attracted world wide reaction for his racist remarks about Asian peoples, Pacific Peoples and tangata whenua".

"What we find even more disturbing is the brush-off given by Phil Goff. Instead of censuring him, he attempts to minimise the harm caused by telling us how much 'energy and enthusiasm' Mr Kelly had for representing New Zealand, thereby rewarding him for blatant prejudice".

Another loose-lipped Labourite, MP John Tamihere, has also reacted with a rebuke to all those who have been offended by the comments, telling us 'we must move on as a country, and kiwis should be able to have a joke'.

'Moving on as a nation means we move on together, not putting each other down with comments such as 'ministers looking like Moses'; 'Pacific Islanders strip mining the beach'; 'Our new immigrants from Asia are one of our biggest problems', or 'Maori fighting and eating each other'.

"It is time that the Labour Government address this situation of international shame as a matter of urgency. I have today tabled a formal complaint of racism about the comments made by the High Commissioner with the Human Rights Commission".

"I have also met last night with constituents from the Mana electorate, who were outraged at the racist and patronising nature of the reported comments".

"The Maori Party will not dismiss this as something to laugh about. New Zealanders from all cultures have been flooding our office today, demanding that Mr Kelly be recalled home to explain".

"The Prime Minister must be held to account - if she cares about the citizens of this country, she must sack Mr Kelly immediately and remind her members of the damage that discrimination can cause through provoking racial disharmony".

ENDS

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