Adam Bennett

Adam is a political reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Devoy keeps clear of Peters' China attack

Dame Susan was not willing to comment last night. Photo / Doug Sherring
Dame Susan was not willing to comment last night. Photo / Doug Sherring

Judith Collins says Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy is right not to comment on Winston Peters' latest attack on the growing Chinese presence in Auckland.

NZ First Leader Mr Peters yesterday launched a tirade against elements of the Chinese community in Auckland who he said were importing corruption, were heavily involved in the sex industry, student cheating rings, and in the black economy, and who were also driving up residential property prices.

A spokeswoman for Dame Susan, who was controversially appointed to the job by Ethnic Affairs Minister Ms Collins two months ago, told the Herald the reaction to Mr Peters' comments was ``not a discussion she wants to get involved with".

Ms Collins, who has labelled Mr Peters' comments "confrontational" and "insulting" this morning said Dame Susan's role was an independent one.

"It's not for me to tell her what to do."

"When I looked at it I thought well she's probably thinking what I thought which is Winston Peters is making a political statement and deserves a political response and he got one from me."

In a speech to North Shore Grey Power yesterday, Mr Peters claimed that the growing Chinese presence in Auckland was turning it into the "Super City of sin".

Mr Peters said that when "so called rich tourists" from China had finished gambling at SkyCity "there's another attraction nearby" referring to John and Michael Chow's plans for a 15-storey hotel and entertainment facility including a brothel on Victoria St.

"Thanks to our generous student and worker visa schemes the Chow brothers will be able to provide genuine homegrown sex workers for the visitors if that's what they want.
"It makes you wonder if the City of Sails is becoming the Super City of Sin."

Ms Collins said: "I can tell him there's been all sorts of brothels and they haven't all been Chinese owned and I'm surprised he didn't know that."

Ms Collins yesterday said Mr Peters' "scaremongering" comments were a desperate attempt to win votes from the "thankfully declining minority" of New Zealanders who would agree with them.

His attack amounted to "economic sabotage" given China's status as New Zealand's largest trading partner.

"It staggers me that he would be so confrontational when we're trying to move the country ahead."

Chairman of the Auckland Chinese Community Centre Arthur Loo dismissed Mr Peter's association of Chinese with crime, saying apprehension rates for Chinese law breakers and the proportion of Chinese in the prison population, "is actually below our percentage of the general population".

"It's disappointing for Chinese people to be used as a political football when it's not even an election year. Winston Peters may like to say these things and he's playing to his gallery and he'll always have his constituency but it's perhaps it's a little bit shameful that he's taking a Blunderbuss gun to the Chinese community."

Mr Peters yesterday denied he was a racist.

"I'm used to dealing with shallow criticism in the face of having to deal with logic."
He said the claims he made in his speech were based on what he'd been told by members of the Chinese community itself.

He said he had "better and closer ties with the Chinese administration when I was a minister of the Crown", than those who criticised him for his comments.

- NZ Herald

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