28 Feb 2010

Former ACT MP condemns damage to race relations

4:41 am on 28 February 2010

A former ACT MP says the National and Maori parties have done more than almost anyone else to damage race relations in the past 15 months.

Muriel Newman, a list MP from 1996 to 2005, told delegates at ACT's annual conference in Wellington on Saturday that there was enormous support for ending the racial division that exists within New Zealand.

She said the silent majority of New Zealanders were deeply disturbed by the growing racial division.

Yet the National Government, Ms Newman said, was increasingly promoting Maori privilege instead of one law for all, which was not what they campaigned on - and they wouldn't have been elected if they had.

Regulatory responsibility bill seen as focus

In his closing address to the conference, leader Rodney Hide said that the party had come a long way in 15 years but that delegates had made it clear to him they wanted the Government to do more.

In the coming year, Mr Hide said, ACT would focus on passing the regulatory responsibility bill and placing a cap on government spending.

On Friday, party co-founder Sir Roger Douglas told delegates that the party must stop seeing itself as an appendix to National if it wanted to remain successful.

To differentiate itself from National, he said, it should focus on the areas that most affect people: tax, health, welfare and education.