Family defends Devoy's new role

By APNZ, Sonya Bateson

6 comments


Dame Susan Devoy's family is defending her appointment as Race Relations Commissioner amid calls for her to stand down.

A day after Dame Susan was appointed to the role, her suitability was questioned because of opinion pieces she had written in the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend - one which criticised the way Waitangi Day had been marred by protest and another which described the wearing of burqas in New Zealand as "disconcerting".

Her brother Paul Devoy said he was "staggered" by the controversy.

"They were views she expressed at the time and as Judith Collins said, I think a lot of what Susan said about Waitangi Day was also what a lot of other New Zealanders think.

"When you read her whole column about the burqas, she said there needed to be a common sense approach taken to it. I think that's what race relations is all about, you can't take an extreme point of view."

While Mr Devoy said he hadn't spoken to his sister about the calls for her resignation, he didn't think she would be worried.

"I don't think she will be resigning any time soon. People are all entitled to their own views but it makes for interesting times ahead.

"I think calls for her resignation are ridiculous, they are ill informed. These people don't know Susan at all, I think if they got to know her they could carry a complete different opinion."

He said much of what Dame Susan had said in the two Bay of Plenty Times Weekend columns had been taken out of context.

Maori Party MP Te Ururoa Flavell questioned Mrs Collins' appointment in Parliament yesterday. He noted that Dame Susan had "already courted controversy with her views".

Mana Party President Annette Sykes said in a statement that Dame Susan failed to meet criteria for the job, which included knowledge of the Treaty of Waitangi and understanding of the issues which affected indigenous people.

Justice Minister Judith Collins has defended Dame Susan.

Mrs Collins said the comments were made before Dame Susan became commissioner, and she would not be as free to express her personal views in her new role.

She said the Far Left did not have a monopoly on caring about race relations and Dame Susan was a very sensible and balanced person.

New Zealand First MP Richard Prosser, who was widely criticised for his comments on Muslims last month, said he felt Dame Susan was a "superb" candidate for the commissioner role.

"She's a fresh face - it's good to have a woman in the job."

Dame Susan, who lives in Tauranga, could not be reached for comment.

Ngati Ranginui elder Colin Bidois said he was surprised when he learned of Mrs Devoy's appointment.

"But I can't say I'm displeased. Susan is a vital person in our community and I think she will be very realistic rather than theoretical in the decisions she has to make. I have no qualms about her being the new Race Relations Commissioner as she has worked in lots of different fields and has associated with people from all sorts of different backgrounds.

"I think she is very much a people's person and has loads of life experience which she will bring to the role."

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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