Clayton Cosgrove at work

The HoS Editorial attacks critics of the proposed Maori prison unit:

It is dispiriting to hear the word “apartheid” bandied about in such circumstances. That word applied to a particularly loathsome kind of institutionalised racial oppression written into law in a specific time and place. Under the guise of separate development, it deliberately maintained one racial group as an underclass. Tackling the appalling Maori imprisonment rate cannot reasonably be seen as oppressive towards non-Maori.

Those who seek to depict it as an easy ride for which an inmate qualifies simply by virtue of his skin colour are being at least mischievous, if not reactionary.

So who is this reactionary critic, the HoS refers to? It can only be Clayton Cosgrove, whose PR said:

“Punishments for violent offenders who commit crimes against ordinary New Zealanders should not be based on an accident of birth and that is exactly what the Government is proposing.

“Targeted rehabilitative programmes delivered within the mainstream prison system are appropriate and their benefits should continue to be explored.

“Unfortunately the Government is not proposing to do this; it is proposing to develop an entirely separate set of punishments and of privileges based solely on race.

“Minister of Maori Affairs Pita Sharples stance is an insult to victims of crimes.

“A rape victim or victim of any violent offence should know that their offender will be punished equally no matter what their race.

“Dr Sharples seems to care little for victims of crime if he believes that allowing violent offenders to go flatting or be given special privileges based on race is an appropriate punishment.

As others have noted this was a total misrepresentation of how these units would work – no one would be sentenced to them. Towards the end of their sentence they may qualify to go there to increase their chance of rehabilitation.

Some commentators have compared Cosgrove’s outburst to Don Brash;s Orewa speech. Now personally I feel such a comparison is very unfair to Dr Brash (Brash never used such inflammatory language) but let us accept it is in the same vein . Now my spies have dug out a SST newspaper story from February 2004, in response to Orewa. Quotes include:

[MP] yesterday compared Brash’s rhetoric to that of Australian ultra-nationalist Pauline Hanson, who also used the “one people” line to argue against special treatment for Aborigines. …

“If Dr Brash continues with these coded messages of division, then you’re going to see that behaviour coming to a pub or a street near you. And that would be a tragedy.”

“If Dr Brash is not careful, his legacy to this country will be the politics of divisions, the Hansonite politics,” he said.

“Brash has gone too far. He’s Xeroxed off Pauline Hanson’s words and Pauline Hanson’s campaign strategy. Those words are a code for division, a code for unrest, a code that tore Australia down the middle.”

So who was this MP viciously attacking Don Brash for his Orewa speech, and comparing him to Pauline Hanson?

It was a MP.

So will Clayton Cosgrove MP compare Clayton Cosgrove MP to Pauline Hanson?

Is this new strategy approved by Phil Goff and Parekura Horomia?

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