By 1news.co.nz and is republished with permission
Some policies brought in by the new government are taking New Zealand backwards, according to Labour leader Chris Hipkins.
Speaking to Breakfast this morning, the former prime minister said a lot of what the government is doing “should have been left in the ’60s”.
“Things like the abolition of the Māori Health Authority, which is designed to give Māori greater health determination when it comes to their healthcare, the abolition of that is a massive step backwards.
“I think they’re going backwards on a whole lot of progress that we’ve made across successive governments, including National governments, over the past three or four decades. I think it really is taking New Zealand backwards.
“We’ve made a lot of progress in our approach to Māori issues as a country during my lifetime, and I think it’s a shame that for the first time we’re seeing a government that’s actively trying to take things backwards in that area.”
It comes after protesters angered by what they believe the new government’s policies will mean for Māori took to the streets this morning. It came as MPs for the 54th Parliament were sworn in.
Hipkins said protests are a “legitimate” part of democracy, “just as farmers are entitled to block the roads with their tractors when they’re unhappy, Māori were fully entitled to protests yesterday as well, I think we should celebrate the fact that we live in a democracy where everybody can protest and express their views”.
Asked if “going backwards” is racist policy, Hipkins said: “On a case-by-case basis there are some, I just think they are backwards-looking, they reflect a view of the world that probably should have been ditched in the ’60s”.
Asked what Labour is doing to support Māori, Hipkins said his party has always had a strong relationship with Māori.
“We will continue to speak up on issues, my message to non-Māori New Zealanders is that you have nothing to fear from Māori getting ahead and us dealing with some of these historical inequities that have been really unfair, really discriminatory.
“We all stand to gain from seeing Māori thrive and flourish in New Zealand,” Hipkins said.
Yesterday, Prime Minister Christopher Luxon called the criticism surrounding the new government “unfair”.
“I think it’s pretty unfair to be honest. I think the reality is we’ve been in government for a week, we are going to get going and we are going to get things done for Māori and non-Maori, and that’s what our focus is going to be.
“As I’ve said, we are a government which has been here for a week, we are here to deliver for New Zealanders, for all New Zealanders, that’s up to them to choose the language they want to use but I think it is entirely inappropriate.”
He also said he has had “constructive sessions” with iwi leaders to “work together” in improving outcomes for Māori.