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Goff Defends Speech Against Racist Tag

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Phil Goff
Phil Goff

Wellington, Nov 29 NZPA - Labour leader Phil Goff is adamant he has not played the race card, as his nationhood speech last week continues to attract negative attention.

Mr Goff's speech to a Grey Power audience in Palmerston North last week raked over the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) deal the Maori Party made with National, the foreshore and seabed legislation and Maori Party MP Hone Harawira's controversial "white motherf...ers" email.

He accused the National government of reopening racial wounds and of "pork bone" politics resulting in "shoddy" and "cynical" deals.

Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples said the speech took New Zealand back to the worst days of politicians playing the race card and he hoped New Zealanders would not buy into it.

"I guess people who want to drag us back into the gutter of racial politics will line up behind Phil Goff."

Prime Minister John Key dismissed the speech as one from a poorly polling party leader seeking media attention.

The editorial in today's Herald on Sunday compared the speech to former National leader Don Brash's Orewa speech, where he talked about one law for all.

Dr Brash's speech saw his party surge in the polls and the party also struck a nerve with its election campaign "iwi-kiwi" billboards focusing the foreshore and seabed legislation.

The newspaper said Mr Goff needed to be called to account for his comments and it was his party's "dismal handling" of the foreshore and seabed matter and race relations that had led to the formation of the Maori Party.

"Goff's attempt to re-animate the ghost of Don Brash is unseemly at best.

"His backing away from a bipartisan attempt to heal the damage done by the seabed and foreshore legislation makes it plain that he prizes political expediency above principle and is not above appealing to the electorate's baser instincts."

On TVNZ's Marae show this morning, Mr Goff said he had voiced concerns about real issues.

"I've never played the race card, I never will, that's the bottom line in politics for me," he said.

"But nor will I hold back in criticising deals that I think are bad deals for New Zealand as a whole, and in the case of the emissions trading scheme, bad for Maori and for Pakeha, for ordinary people."

Mr Goff checked his speech with his Maori caucus before delivering it.

"I defy anybody to look at that speech and see anything in that that is about anything but substantive issues."

He listed the areas he had highlighted, saying Mr Harawira's actions deserved to be criticised.

"What Hone did was quite wrong and he disguised the self interest in the politics of race saying this is just white man's puritanic BS. I condemn that."

On the ETS he said the deal was overall bad for Maoridom and New Zealand in general.

"And the Maori Party can't go on forever defending itself against justified criticism by saying its race-based."

Labour was concerned about the seabed and foreshore issue, he said.

"Excuse Labour for being suspicious about what's been cooked up when we have seen the dirty deal, the shabby deal, that was done on the emissions trading scheme."

The Maori Party had gone from opposing the ETS to backing a deal that benefited iwi corporates and he did not accept they could argue it was just politics.

"You never sell out on your basic values and principles, you don't sell out on your people and that is what I allege the Maori Party did on the emissions trading scheme, and I am supported in that conclusion by a big percentage of the Maori population and probably Hone Harawira...

"This is not race based, let's argue the substance of the issues."

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