ACT's deputy leader Muriel Newman has gone AWOL, not fronting up to questions from GayNZ.com about her "gay agenda" column and misuse of Statistics NZ data relating to same-sex couples. Newman claimed in a column released last Friday that the government had a "gay agenda", was trying to boost the numbers of homosexuals by doing sexuality surveys, was delving into matters that should be kept "intensely private", and raised concerns about gay "recruitment". She quoted Census data relating to same-sex couples and tried to claim it as the size of the GLBT population in general. GayNZ.com has contacted Newman's parliamentary office several times this week after the MP failed to respond to a deadline for emailed questions. Newman's assistant Kath Bell says she hasn't spoken to her for the last two days and "has no idea where she is" today. Newman's column is the latest in a series of attacks on the government by ACT over gay issues. ACT's weekly newsletter this week refers to the government's "secret gay agenda", whereas last week's issue ran a poll asking readers if Labour MP John Tamihere was right in suggesting the government was run by a "cabal of homosexuals". ACT leader Rodney Hide has attacked the government himself over the "cabal of lesbians" perceived to be in charge. Hide has been vague and contradictory in correspondence with GayNZ.com over this issue, agreeing that a person's sexuality and/or having children has no influence on their ability to perform as an MP, but in separate correspondence stating that Tamihere's recent outburst has "drawn attention to the narrowness of the people the PM has drawn around her". He has also denied that his deputy Newman is homophobic, and that ACT's recent fixation on gay issues is connected to embarrassment over the fallout from the Jim Peron affair. "I have no embarassment whatsoever about the Jim Peron ‘affair' as you put it," he told GayNZ.com via email. "No one in the party has expressed any embarassment to me. Why would they?"
Credit: GayNZ.com News Staff
First published: Friday, 22nd April 2005 - 12:00pm
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