27 May 2020

Judith Collins 'sick of being demonised' for her ethnicity

5:06 pm on 27 May 2020

Tensions flared over race relations again today at Parliament with outspoken National MP Judith Collins saying she was "sick of being demonised" for her ethnicity.

Judith Collins

Photo: RNZ /Dom Thomas

National's been under fire for not having any Māori MPs in its top twelve, in the new line-up revealed on Monday.

Yesterday Collins pushed back, asking reporters if there was "something wrong" her with being white.

Today during a hearing of Parliament's Finance and Expenditure committee, she reacted to questions being asked by Labour MP Tamati Coffey about the treaty partnership and government procurement.

"Oh Jesus Christ, stupid questions", said Collins, with the committee chair Labour's Deborah Russell chipping in calling it "a white girl comment - crikey".

"Oh no", shot back Collins,"it's actually someone who is utterly sick of being demonised for my ethnicity thank-you very much."

Coffey protested saying he wasn't even talking about her and apologised to the submitter.

"Is he apologising for Deborah's comment or for his?" interjected ACTs David Seymour.

"No need to apologise for me - how patronising - I can apologise for myself and I have no intention of [doing that]," Collins said.

Meanwhile National's leadership continues to deal with the fall-out, with Muller facing more questions today.

He's repeatedly talked about Shane Reti, number 17, as a valued member of the caucus and an up and coming MP.

Reti was targeted by Labour's Māori caucus co-chair and government minister Willie Jackson in the House after the National MP asked a question about employment programmes.

"Māori, ethnic communities, Pasifika and disability groups...those are the people we'll continue to fight for and shame on that member for not standing up for his people!"

Dan Bidois - ranked at number 46 - has also been cited by Muller as a talented Māori member of the caucus, and one with an important portfolio responsibility, Workplace Relations and Safety.

He told RNZ he "fully rejected identity based politics", and the "notion that we have to have a certain amount of ethnicity, or particular type of Māori".

New Zealanders wanted a government that would deliver for them, to improve the economy and get the country "out of this mess", said Bidois.

Muller also received support today from an unexpected quarter - ousted deputy leader Paula Bennett.

'Blind to the real Aotearoa'

Tamaki Makaurau MP Peeni Henare hit back at Collins and said she had no right to say she was being 'demonised'.

Ratana Fri 24th January 2020.  Labour MP Peeni Henare speaks the the powhiri for Labour coalition government members

Peeni Henare. Photo: RNZ / Patrice Allen

"When Ms Collins is more likely to live in poverty, to end up in prison, to be stopped to have her bags checked in a shop even though her Pākehā mates are not, then maybe she can claim to be demonised for her culture, but not now.

"She, like her leader, are blind to the real Aotearoa that the rest of us live in."

Henare also criticised Muller's view that MPs shouldn't be chosen based on their culture or ethnicity.

"When leaders admit that they don't see someone's culture, when they don't value the Maori contribution, they are admitting that they are blind to our achievements and deaf to our concerns."

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