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Sharples: Labour's Double-standards

25 November 2005

Dr Pita Sharples; Member of Parliament for Tamaki Makaurau; and Maori Party Spokesperson for Maori Affairs

The Maori Party today has raised the question about Labour's treatment of David Benson-Pope in contrast to their response to two of its Ministers in the Maori Affairs portfolio.

In 2000, police investigated then Minister of Maori Affairs, Hon Dover Samuels, for alleged offences and later cleared him of the allegations.

"Dover Samuels was castigated for the alleged offences which took place some twenty years ago" stated Dr Sharples. "He was stripped of his ministerial warrant and sent out to the cold, never to regain the baubles of office".

In 2004, former Associate Maori Affairs Minister, John Tamihere, was also alleged to have offended and was later cleared by the Serious Fraud Office of wrongdoing while at the Waipareira Trust.

"The Prime Minister stated, publically, that she would keep a position open for John, but during a cabinet reshuffle, conveniently reallocated his portfolios, effectively kicking him out in the cold as well".

"Yet, here we have a situation where Police say they have a prima facie case to answer for, admitting they have enough evidence to charge David Benson-Pope for allegedly assaulting pupils when he was a teacher, but will not prosecute because the event occurred 23 years ago".

"And yet the Executive appear to have turned a blind eye to the swirling accusations, keeping him firmly ensconced in his ministerial suite, enjoying the privilege of office".

"I do not want to comment on any of the alleged offences, or the rights and wrongs of prosecuting decisions" said Dr Sharples. "I am simply raising issues put forward by my constituents in Tamaki Makaurau".

"They have asked me - how can we believe in 'one law for all' when one Labour MP has received such differential treatment to the Labour Maori MPs Tamihere and Samuels".


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