Kate Hawkesby: Why doesn't PM care about Shane Jones being racist?

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Wed, 4 Mar 2020, 10:05AM
Photo / NZ Herald

Kate Hawkesby: Why doesn't PM care about Shane Jones being racist?

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Wed, 4 Mar 2020, 10:05AM

I’m not sure how many times Shane Jones needs to be racist and told he’s irresponsible, but it seems to be having very little effect.

The PM is saying she reprimanded him, there appears very little evidence of that.

I wonder if his recalcitrant behaviour is proof he’s never been properly reined in by his boss, that he feels he can continually get away with inappropriate comments, that he feels he's above all authority.

His latest racist outburst.. that Indian immigrants “have ruined academic institutions” and that, “there were too many immigrants coming from New Delhi" is according to the Race Relations Commissioner, ignorant and racist.

Winston Peters doesn’t think so though, neither does Shane Jones.

They both defend the comments, so does that make it OK?

Well no it doesn’t.

But their commander in chief, coalition leader Jacinda Ardern, herself very vocal on her anti-racist beliefs, seems to be happy to let it slide, again. She was going to ‘have a word with him’ and ‘relay her displeasure’. Which is about as useful as telling a toddler it’s not that cool to bite people but oh well, try better next time.

Why can’t she discipline or rein in her government ministers?

It’s an ongoing mystery, especially when it comes to racist rhetoric which I would've thought she’d find abhorrent.  

The Race Relations Commissioner said these sorts of comments ‘must stop’ and yet if no one will step in to stop them, and the people uttering them defend them, then how do they stop?

Are we all supposed to wait for Shane Jones to have some road to Damascus experience and just stop being racist?

Ardern said his comments were ‘loose’ and ‘wrong’.

But why isn’t she calling them for what they are? Racist.

His defence of himself that he’s ‘not woke’ but instead ‘a 60-year-old Croatian-Māori from Kaitaia, beer drinking, plain speaking, red meat eating politician,’ excuses nothing. It doesn’t mean you get to be racist.

For a PM who is herself of the woke brigade and appreciates an ethnically diverse support base, I’m surprised she hasn’t heeded the words of the Waitakere Indian Association President, who this week asked that she ensure this racist sentiment didn't keep being repeated. He, like many others of us, expect a bit more than just expressing ‘displeasure'.

Surely she's worked out by now that a Minister like Shane Jones couldn’t give a toss whether you’ve expressed 'displeasure’ or not.

Showing strong leadership matters, especially in an election year.

Expressing 'displeasure' is not going to cut it.