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Goff Stirs Up Row With National And Maori Party

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Phil Goff
Phil Goff

Wellington, Nov 26 NZPA - Labour leader Phil Goff has stirred up a row with National and the Maori Party by accusing the Government of reopening racial wounds.

In a speech to Grey Power in Palmerston North today, Mr Goff talked about "shabby political deals" and said the treaty settlement process was being cynically manipulated.

He said Prime Minister John Key decided not to deal firmly with Maori Party MP Hone Harawira for making racially abusive comments because he wanted to strike a deal with the Maori Party over the emissions trading scheme (ETS).

And he attacked the Government for reviewing the Foreshore and Seabed Act, saying it was an attempt by National and the Maori Party to create the perception of change.

"We can celebrate the rich tapestry of our heritage and us it to move forwards as a nation, or re-open wounds and divisions where there can be healing," he said.

"Or we can have a country where one New Zealand is turned against another, Maori against Pakeha, in a way that Labour strongly rejects."

Senior cabinet minister Gerry Brownlee ridiculed the speech, telling reporters it was "a masterpiece of confusion and hypocrisy" but Maori Party MPs reacted strongly.

Co-leader Pita Sharples said Mr Goff was making a desperate move so he would be noticed.

"Let's hope he doesn't stir up something when there's nothing there," he said.

MP Te Ururoa Flavell said by attacking the ETS agreement Mr Goff was attacking iwi.

"It is low of the Labour Party to hit out at iwi who it had no problem dealing with when it was in government," he said.

His colleague Rahui Katene accused Mr Goff of using racially divisive tactics and urged people not to fall into the "scaremongering trap" the Labour leader was setting.

"Mr Goff is doing his hardest to polarise the public into attacking Maori through launching a misguided campaign that Maori are getting special treatment when they are not," she said.

Mr Brownlee said Mr Goff's criticism of Mr Key was ridiculous because the prime minister had been "extremely firm" about Mr Harawira's comments.

"Hone Harawira is an utter irrelevance...the prime minister doesn't start getting angst about a lowly backbencher of no account whatsoever."

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