Adam Bennett

Adam is a political reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Act leader slams criticism of Maori privilege remarks

Dame Susan Devoy.
Dame Susan Devoy.

Act Leader Jamie Whyte has returned serve to Dame Susan Devoy over her criticism of his claims Maori enjoy legal privilege, saying the Race Relations Commissioner either hasn't read his comments "or she can't think straight".

Dame Susan yesterday let fly at Dr Whyte for claiming Maori enjoyed a degree of legal privilege comparable to that of the pre-revolutionary French aristocracy.

"Equating Maori New Zealanders to French aristocrats, who were murdered because of their privilege, is a grotesque and inflammatory statement," she said.

"Accusations of Maori privilege are not borne out by Maori socio-economic statistics."

She went on to say that treating everyone exactly the same, as Dr Whyte was arguing for, "will not necessarily make everyone exactly the same and anyone who thinks so is incredibly naive".

But Dr Whyte said Dame Susan "obviously hasn't read my speech because she doesn't make any sense".

He said his comments made it clear he believed the reason people accepted Maori legal privilege was that Maori were not materially privileged. "She brings up the fact that Maori are not materially privileged as if it's a refutation of my position, but it's part of my position.

"It's utterly bizarre - either she hasn't read it or she can't think straight. It's very very strange. I'm dumbfounded. Sometimes there's just nothing you can say."

- NZ Herald

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