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ACT leader’s race-based privilege claims “preposterous”

ACT leader’s race-based privilege claims “preposterous” and “insulting” says academic

Historian Professor Paul Moon has blasted ACT leader Jamie Whyte’s recent policy announcement on so-called race-based legislation.

Dr Whyte has called for a taskforce to identify and repeal laws which allegedly give special treatment to Maori, and claims that “the principle that the law should be impartial has never been fully embraced in New Zealand.”

However, Auckland University of Technology’s Professor Moon disputes this, arguing instead that what has been absent for more than one-and-a-half centuries is equality of opportunity: “The irony is that while, Dr Whyte claims he wants equality, at the same time he is looking to kick away the very props that hold up a more egalitarian New Zealand.”

Professor Moon describes Dr Whyte’s statement that “Maori are legally privileged in New Zealand today, just as the aristocracy were legally privileged in pre-revolutionary France,” as “utterly preposterous and deeply insulting.”

“Such a claim is only possible”, says Professor Moon, “if you deliberately turn your back on every statistic and measure of social well-being in this country. It is almost inconceivable that a New Zealand political-party leader in 2014 could make such a statement.”

ACT is also targeting Maori seats, with a policy aimed at their removal. Professor Moon sees this as part of a concerted plan which could set back race relations by decades.

Professor Moon suggests that with this comprehensive attack on so-called race-based legislation, ACT is attempting to make a populist appeal to the same constituency as Don Brash did in his famous Orewa speech a decade ago. “The difference this time, though,” says Professor Moon, “is that ACT is trying to compete in a much more crowded political marketplace, with NZ First and the Conservatives promoting similar types of policies. In this sense, ACT’s decision to push this issue represents poor political judgment, and smells of desperation.”


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