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Parliament Asked to Reject Intolerance

Parliament Asked to Reject Intolerance

Wednesday 13 Nov 2002 Richard Prebble Press Releases -- Immigration

ACT Leader Richard Prebble said today he had put down a notice of motion asking parliament to disassociate itself from Mr Peters' attacks on Asian immigrants.

"I have written to every party leader asking for their support for my notice of motion to be debated and voted on tomorrow.

"I believe it is important that parliament take a lead on this issue. I have received reports from Asian New Zealanders that they and their children have been subjected to racial abuse since the weekend.

"MPs are leaders in the community and Mr Peters' speech has incited racial bigotry.

"I realise debating Mr Peters' remarks does give him the publicity he desires but in a free society we believe out of debate comes truth.

"No one in parliament denies that immigration is a legitimate topic of public debate. My own party has been critical of aspects of immigration under successive governments and ACT criticised the way the refugee quota is managed, before Mr Peters found the issue.

"We need to recognise that those who have come to New Zealand and have taken out citizenship have the same rights as any other New Zealander.

"Mr Peters' claims are misleading, a misuse of statistics, and often false. The reality is that there is no doubt that immigration has been economically positive for New Zealand. Immigrants are among the hardest working and law abiding of our citizens. New Zealand is a richer country both culturally and economically as a result of immigration.

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"I will seek leave tomorrow for my notice of motion to be debated. If Mr Peters believes his claims, he will not deny leave," Mr Prebble said.


13 November 2002

Rt Hon Helen Clark

Prime Minister

Parliament Buildings


Dear Prime Minister

Re: Inciting Racial Disharmony by Rt Hon Winston Peters

I am writing to all party leaders with a copy to Mr Peters proposing Parliament pass a notice of motion condemning Mr Peters' racist attacks on Asian New Zealanders.

Mr Peters' speech on the weekend and interview with the Sunday Star Times went far beyond the bounds of robust debate.

The remarks were designed to make Asian New Zealanders the object of racial hatred. There is evidence of Asian New Zealanders being abused, spat at, and subjected to school bullying, as a result of Mr Peters' campaign.

The news media has printed Mr Peters' false allegations.

Mr Peters mixes his statistics to mislead. He confuses the refugee quota with general immigration. He includes fee paying students - who make up almost 80% of international students bringing the New Zealand economy more than $1 billion a year - with immigrants.

It is important we as responsible leaders say:

- Asian New Zealanders are among the most law abiding citizens;

- the 27 thousand Asian students are making it possible for our universities, polytechs and schools to provide all students with a higher standard of education;

- Asians are not filling up our hospital waiting lists;

- Asian are underrepresented on welfare;

- it is irresponsible to be predicting "race riots".

Every reputable academic study of immigration has reported that immigration has a positive effect on New Zealand. Unemployment has fallen, not risen, so there is no evidence of immigration costing jobs.

We should say to Mr Peters that New Zealand's culture is to be tolerant - and it is Mr Peters who is bringing the politics of racial division into this country.

Immigration is an issue that does deserve to be seriously discussed. How immigrants are selected, and how many, are matters for legitimate debate. What is not right is to make false and inflammatory statements.

I have put down the enclosed notice of motion.

I believe the house should debate the motion tomorrow and vote on it, to send a signal to our fellow New Zealanders to reject Mr Peters' politics of intolerance.

Yours sincerely

Hon Richard Prebble MP CBE

Leader ACT New Zealand

cc: Rt Hon Mr Winston Peters


Hon Richard Prebble

That Parliament note the statements by the Rt Hon Winston Peters, Leader of New Zealand First at the weekend when he stated that Asian immigrants were `bringing the third world to New Zealand" and dividing society, claimed "one in two" Asian immigrants did not have a job and his prediction that New Zealand will have "race riots" and parliament disassociates itself from Mr Peter's remarks, records that Asian New Zealanders are among the most hard working and law abiding citizens who have made a positive contribution to our country and concludes that it is Mr Peters who is bringing into New Zealand the politics of racial division that is foreign to New Zealand's proud tradition of tolerance.

For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.

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