Saturday, April 5, 2008

A history of prejudice

The NZ Herald carries a story this morning covering a couple of aspects of Peter Brown's anti-Asian tirade this week - here 'tis:

It seems as though Peter Brown has some "issues" to deal with in his neighbourhood, and he may get a frosty reception when he wanders down to the Matua Dairy to buy his Sunday paper! Oh dear; how sad; never mind! I guess he can try and convince them that he was only articulating his leader's opinion!!!!

Meanwhile, the same article does some detective work on NZ First, and finds a trend - anti-immigration rhetoric from Peters and his xenophobes in 1996, 1999, 2002, 2005 and now 2008 - you guessed it - every election year!!! Here's some samples:

February 1996. Winston Peters v Asians
In a speech in Howick, Mr Peters criticised the Government's immigration policy as something which "sees rows of ostentatious houses in this very suburb, occupied in some cases by children whose parents have no ties in this country other than the price they paid for the house and who prefer to remain outside its shores".
The obvious reference to Asians drew flak from critics, but Mr Peters enjoyed a boost in the polls.

February 1999. Winston Peters v immigrants
Mr Peters blamed immigrants for infrastructure problems in Auckland, citing traffic congestion, increased pressure on power and water resources, pollution, shellfish pillage and threatened recreational areas.
His comments were attacked as xenophobic by political rivals, and National MP Pansy Wong said the Asian community's scars were still "raw and painful" from the 1996 New Zealand First attacks.
Mr Peters responded by calling Mrs Wong "an out-of-Shanghai, Hong Kong-born member of the New Zealand Parliament, as though she speaks for all Asians".

May and July 2005. Winston Peters v Asians and Muslims
Mr Peters pondered the changing face of Auckland in a speech, saying "we have now reached the point where you can wander down Queen Street in Auckland and wonder if you are still in New Zealand or some other country".
Later that year he took aim at immigrants from another part of the world. Speaking about the Muslim community in New Zealand, he said there was a "militant underbelly".

Fact - Peter Brown made the comments this week, but it is clear that New Zealand First has a long and damning history of "playing the race card".
Fact - Winston Peters has led New Zealand First since its formation in 1993.
Fact - Winston Peters has not distanced himself from his Deputy Leader, so it must be assumed that he endorses Brown's racism.

Helen Clark has yet to distance herself from Peters, and from the racist policies of his party. She knew his track record when entering into confidence-and-supply negotiations with him, yet she appointed Peters as Foreign Minister within months of of him saying this:

"We have now reached the point where you can wander down Queen Street in Auckland and wonder if you are still in New Zealand or some other country"

Helen Clark has made her own bed; now she must sleep in it. If she is not prepared to demand his resignation as Foreign Minister, even at the risk of the agreement with New Zealand First being damaged beyond repair, she will be seen as endorsing his racist views. Winston Peters must go, and if she is not prepared to bring that about, Helen Clark should follow.


adamsmith1922 said...

She will not get rid of him unless he does something she finds really unacceptable, as she has tolerated his fictions and behaviour for too long. In fact on his record, it is hard to know what she would find unacceptable

Inventory2 said...

Adam - I agree that Clark is unlikely to do anything about Peters. However she should find his excesses about immigration unacceptable, given Labour's pitch to be a migrant-friendly party.

I guess however that when all is said and done, keeping her minority government stable over-rides such niceties as principle!