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Party Disgusted at the Winston Peters’ Attack

Maori Party Disgusted at the Winston Peters’ Attack

Dr Pita R Sharples, Co-leader 24 September 2008

Dr Sharples, Co-leader of the Maori Party today poo-poohed the personalised attack on the Maori Party by NZ First Leader, Winston Peters.

"I emphatically reject Mr Peters' criticism of us "riding the waves of sentiment" by publicly supporting him, and then "selling him out,” said Dr Sharples.

“Our stand has never been about Winston Peters – it’s about accountability and integrity, and these principles are important for every MP, not matter who they are.

"All of us in the Maori Party have deliberately refrained from criticising Mr Peters in the public arena - in fact we have gone to considerable lengths to point out to his detractors his considerable achievements within his current ministerial portfolio, and over the years. In addition, both my Co-leader Tariana Turia and I have offered our personal best wishes to Winston to see him through this enquiry,” he said.

"More importantly, the Maori Party refrained from jumping to any conclusions about his behaviour until we had seen and heard all the evidence presented to the Privileges Committee.”

Dr Sharples said the party's representative on the Privileges Committee, Te Ururoa Flavell, presented a very clear analysis of his findings on the matter to the House yesterday at 4.00pm. “The Maori Party concurred with his analysis and, therefore, despite any personal feelings of support for Winston, our caucus was well prepared to make the hard call on his behaviour on the basis of the evidence provided,” he said.

"An attack on our credibility over this issue by Winston is totally out of order, and without any substance at all," said Dr Sharples. "The Maori Party values its political integrity and has spent three years in the house - walking our talk.

Dr Sharples said he was not only taken aback by the personal attack from Winston Peters, but was disappointed at the personal lobbying by a NZ First staffer and a government Minister over the past weekend to influence the Maori Party's decision prior to the vote.

"I personally had two separate phone calls from a senior Minister urging me to vote in favour of Winston, and suggesting that there would be unpleasant repercussions from Maori people if I didn’t. Both Tariana Turia and myself were disgusted with this kind of activity, aimed at perverting the course of justice and fair play.

"But one thing Winston Peters said is right, and that is - the people will decide on November 8. His populist antics versus our integrity," said Dr Sharples.

The motion to censure Mr Peters was passed in the House with National, The Greens, The Maori Party, United Future, Act and independents Gordon Copeland and Taito Phillip Field voting for the motion. Labour and NZ First opposed it, while Jim Anderton abstained.


ENDS

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