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NZAF staff muzzled over quota

Mon 13 Jun 2005 In: New Zealand Daily News

AIDS Foundation staff have been forbidden to speak to the media over a proposal by its board to set aside 50% of board seats for Maori, in recognition of the Treaty of Waitangi. The change to the Foundation's governance structure will require an alteration to the NZAF Constitution, which the board is obligated to consult its members over. Board spokesman Simon Robb says a series of regional hui will be held next month to gauge opinion, however NZAF staff spoken to by would make no comment on the proposal, saying they weren't allowed to comment. The silence even extended to off-the-record conversations, with some fearing reprisals should they speak out in any way. Concern is spreading amongst the gay community that the board change will lead to race-based allocation of NZAF funding for Maori, who make up just under 15% of New Zealand's total and HIV+ populations. Revelations over staff fears come hard on the heels of stinging criticism of the proposals from National's deputy leader Gerry Brownlee, who told the NZ Herald at the weekend he thought it was "utterly stupid": "This organisation is supposed to represent and advocate for people who have an illness. It has nothing to do with race," he said. "This is PC gone too far. When organisations do things like this they start to dent their credibility." National have campaigned vociferously against race-based funding and quotas. Although expressing clearly his view that the NZAF board proposal was a credibility-damaging move, Brownlee stopped short of commenting on whether such a structural change to the AIDS Foundation board would affect its funding under a National-led government.    

Credit: News Staff

First published: Monday, 13th June 2005 - 12:00pm

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