Adam Bennett

Adam is a political reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Whyte lobs resignation call at Devoy over race comments

Jamie Whyte says Dame Susan Devoy's criticism of his "racial equality" comments is interference in election year politics. He's called for her to resign. Photo / NZ Herald
Jamie Whyte says Dame Susan Devoy's criticism of his "racial equality" comments is interference in election year politics. He's called for her to resign. Photo / NZ Herald

Act Leader Jamie Whyte says Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy should resign for her condemnation of his "call for racial equality" by putting an end to special legal recognition of Maori, saying she is interfering in the election year political process.

Dame Susan who last year refused to comment on Winston Peters' claims that Auckland was becoming a "Supercity of sin" due to a growing Asian influence, yesterday labelled Dr Whyte's comments about Maori as "grotesque and inflammatory".

Dr Whyte said her response to his "call for racial equality" would be "nothing more than a sign of ignorance if she were still a professional squash player".

"But she is no longer a squash professional. She is the Commissioner for Race Relations. Her role is specified in legislation."

Dr Whyte's speech last weekend took aim at the legislation providing for the Maori electoral roll and seats in Parliament, three of which are currently held by the Maori Party and one by the Mana Party.

"Nowhere does the legislation say that, unlike other senior state bureaucrats, the Commissioner of Race Relations' role involves engaging in political campaigns to support particular parties, such as the Mana-Internet Party and the Maori Party," Dr Whyte said.

"It is astounding that the Commissioner of Race Relations should condemn me for promoting legal equality between the races.

"If Ms Devoy believes that a person's legal rights should depend on the race of her parents, and if she believes that she should use her state-funded position to promote the electoral prospects of race-based political parties, then she is unfit to hold her position as the Commissioner of Race Relations.

"She should resign today."

Dr Whyte yesterday told the Herald Dame Susan either hadn't read his comments "or she can't think straight" as she appeared to miss his point that while Maori enjoyed legal privilege - like pre-revolutionary French aristocrats - they did not enjoy material privilege.

"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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