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ACT Tries To Outbid New Zealand First

5 September 2002

Act Tries To Outbid New Zealand First

Progressive Matt Robson MP has hit out at what he describes as nutty intolerant statements on immigration fuelled by sentiments increasingly close to racism.

"Recently we have had Winston Peters confusing our immigration policy with tourists behaving badly, and the latest contribution is from ACT's Stephen Franks who seems to think all Muslims are terrorists. He goes on to say we should ban immigrants based on 'religious beliefs and cultural backgrounds'.

"Perhaps the scariest aspect is the extraordinary statement where Stephen Franks is quoted as saying 'I do not respect Islam'. This is reported directly after his own statement that we don't want migrants whose backgrounds include religious intolerance.

"Our immigration policies are not based on deciding one religion is better than another or assuming that all people from a religious or cultural background share the same views. It's like saying all westerners are Christians who believe exactly the same things. We don't, and one example is that many of us welcome a diverse community while others want to ban Asians.

"If Stephen Franks is really concerned about people who don't respect women, religious freedoms, or who have illnesses he can start work here in New Zealand on these issues with those born in New Zealand.

"Our immigration policies should be based on skills and education, keeping families together and there is a small number of refugees who are accepted on criteria set by the United Nations. Skin colour and the cultural and religious background of people are not reliable guides for who will be good citizens.

Act has clearly decided to compete with New Zealand First for the title of the most divisive and intolerant party in Parliament. It is a competition that we don't need.


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