ACT Party's Demand to Re Consider Maoris Privileges Evokes Reprimand

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By Kalyan Kumar | July 30, 2014 7:56 PM EST

The election debate in New Zealand is getting into a high pitch with politicians being urged to confine their focus within relevant issues. According to a TVZ report, the Race Relations Commissioner has ticked off an ACT leader for his comments on the privileges enjoyed by Maoris, including seats in Parliament.

In the TV One programme, Jamie Whyte, top leader of ACT party, demanded a  second look into the special legal privileges for Maoris. He called for a taskforce to identify them and their repeal.

According to him, race-based favouritism is not doing any good for the Maoris, and the idea that Maoris need lower hurdles than others is not logical.

The comments by the ACT leader drew the flak of Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy who urged all politicians to stick to their manifesto in making New Zealand a better place. The commissioner reminded the ACT leader that beyond prejudices, there stands the reality that ethnicity and disadvantages are interconnected. In the case of Maoris, their life expectancy, education and health outcomes are behind other non-Maori New Zealanders.

Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell described ACT leader's comments as fanciful and smacking of racism.

Compulsory Shipping Lanes

Meanwhile, the Green Party has upped its campaign for clean seas in New Zealand and save its pristine beaches from oil spills. The party wants a ban on deep sea drilling and mooted the idea of compulsory shipping lanes for coastal shipping.

Raising the proposals, Green Party co-leader Russel Norman said the party wanted to augment Maritime New Zealand's oil spill response capability..

New Zealanders love their beaches and want them for swimming and not shut for oil spills. Pastimes such as fishing and surfing are being placed at risk by the opening up of New Zealand's coastline for oil exploration. The National Party has failed in taking steps to ensure there would not be another shipping mishap like the sinking of the Rena, the Green Party leader said.

Just as New Zealand chose to go nuclear-free, there must be initiatives to preserve the national environmental identity by making the deep sea oil-free. 

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