11 Mar 2013

Grey Power official rejects racism claim

9:18 pm on 11 March 2013

A Grey Power official is disappointed his office's submission asking Auckland Council to hold a population policy forum is being labelled racist.

The submission said the council needed to address the social impact of population increase and ethnicity changes in the city during the next 25 years.

Auckland Grey Power office director Bill Rayner says he received an email from the vice-president of the organisation's central Auckland branch, David Shand, labelling parts of his submission racist.

Mr Rayner says Mr Shand liked most of the submission but disagreed with the call for a population policy forum.

Mr Shand says the submission asks for the city to find what it calls an optimum ethnicity, something he says is both inappropriate and racist.

"One part of the submission says that our members and lifestyles are under serious threat from the rapid changes in ethnic mix projections in Auckland and the second thing it says is there is a need to determine the optimum ethnicity," Mr Shand said.

"I have found this to be quite an extraordinary comment. That seems to me to be absolutely racist in tone."

But Mr Rayner says Auckland's population is set to grow by up to a million people in the next 25 years.

He says the Asian population could increase to more than 30% of the total Auckland population and the social impact of that needs to be looked at.

Mr Rayner says the submission is simply asking that social issues that arise from population changes are discussed and analysed, and is not questioning Asian or any other immigration.

He is worried other parts of the submission such as as transport and rates issues for the elderly will be overlooked.