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Labour to have Minister of Ethnic Affairs

2000 web siteA Labour Government would include a Minister of Ethnic Affairs to ensure that the needs of New Zealand's growing ethnic communities were considered in all aspects of government policy.

The proposal was unveiled as part of Labour's Immigration, Settlement and Ethnic Affairs policy released in Auckland today.

Labour ethnic affairs spokesperson Mark Gosche said the initiative was long overdue as the 'one person unit' delivering advice on ethnic issues from within the Ministry of Internal Affairs was not sufficient to reflect the growing population.

"The number of people belonging to ethnic minorities almost doubled between the 1992 and 1997 census polls - they now number more than five per cent and their needs should not be ignored," Mark Gosche said.

"One of the first jobs the Minister of Ethnic Affairs would have would be to work in consultation with representatives from ethnic communities on what structures within government would best meet their needs - ie, whether there should be an Office or Commission of Ethnic Affairs and whether such an office should be stand alone or be incorporated within another Ministry.

"Labour has an open mind on the details, but we are determined to develop structures which would enable our new migrants and ethnic communities to have better services and more input into decision making than is the case at present.

"We will welcome a range of cultural perspectives on major political, economical, social and environmental issues and will actively seek such input into policy making.

"A diversity of languages and cultures amongst us will enhance New Zealand's capacity to function in the international community of nations and Labour will be encouraging events and education programmes which enable people of different ethnic backgrounds to meet and share ideas and culture," Mark Gosche said.

Contact: Mark Gosche - 025 570 899

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