Whyte stands by race-based law comment

ACT party candidate James Gray
ACT party candidate James Gray

ACT Party leader Jamie Whyte wasn't surprised at the furore caused by his speaking out against what he called "race based laws".

Whyte was in New Plymouth yesterday to present ACT Party policy and introduce James Gray, 25, who is standing for ACT in New Plymouth.

Dame Susan Devoy said Whyte's comments that Maori enjoy legal privilege were "grotesque and inflammatory" and "incredibly naive".

Whyte particularly upset Devoy when he asserted 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," Devoy said.

And Maori party co leader Tariana Turia said Whyte had "selective amnesia about our history in this land."

Whyte said he was expecting that sort of response.

"You can't raise these issues without people trying to shut you down. It's not like they are trying to engage you in debate.

"They just call you names."

ACT's role is to be politically incorrect and to confront issues other people think are too tricky, Whyte said. "Equality before the law is an important principle. You can't brush it under the carpet because it's an uncomfortable topic." Despite the ACT Party's recent history Whyte was confident they would end up with four or five MPs in Parliament after the election.

The Prime Minister, John Key, has supported David Seymour in Epsom, Whyte said.

"[Seymour] has been campaigning hard and knocked on 9,000 doors. Even before the support from the Prime Minister we were pretty confident he was going to win."

Gray said he was campaigning for the party vote in New Plymouth.

He has been involved with the ACT Party youth and wants to show young people politics is something they can participate in and be involved with. The party wants to reform the Resource Management Act and cut out the "green tape" to make things easier for farmers.

Gray works at Business Communications Taranaki, in New Plymouth.

His work is a cross between old style telecommunications and the IT world, he said.

He is on ACT's party list, but is outside the top 20.

Taranaki Daily News