New Zealand lawmaker brands Australian PM ‘racist bastard’


Wellington : New Zealand Maori Party politician Hone Harawira has labelled Australian Prime Minister John Howard a "racist bastard" for his radical attempts to end alcoholism and child abuse in Aboriginal communities, according to reports Monday.

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Harawira's comments were first aired on the Sunday indigenous current affairs show Native Affairs, and were repeated on Monday television news.

Harawira said that Howard was a "racist bastard" who applied "racist policies" to powerless Aboriginal communities.

The measures, announced last month, include bans on alcohol and pornography, the monitoring of welfare payments, and mobilisation of extra police and troops.

He likened Howard's intervention to the US invasion of Iraq, because he claimed Howard's move would appeal to voters in an election year and allow the state to control the "outback," the Australian Northern Territories, and its rich mineral reserves.

Harawira also said that if such policies were promoted in New Zealand, his tribe, Nga Puhi, would take up arms in resistance.

DPA approached the Australian Embassy in New Zealand's capital Wellington but a spokesman declined to comment.

Harawira entered Parliament in 2005. He is a son of a veteran Maori rights campaigner and has a reputation for radicalism and blunt language. Harawira has always advocated for a separate Parliament and judicial system for the Maori, New Zealand's indigenous population.

The Maori Party issued a statement Monday that backed Harawira's comments.

The statement was titled: "Hone or John: who to believe?" It said the Maori Party was carefully considering the recent report on sexual abuse of Aboriginal children, and that the party questioned whether the Australian government's responses in the past had been effective.

Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples said the party "would not have thought military intervention to be at all appropriate in dealing with the sensitive nature of the situation outlined in the report".

The Maori Party has four seats in New Zealand's 121-member parliament. It claims to be the only strong, independent force for the Maori in parliament.