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New Government is a worry, says Barnett

Tue 11 Nov 2008 In: New Zealand Daily News

Former Rainbow Labour MP Tim Barnett says New Zealand's general election at the weekend saw a significant shift to the right, and brought in a new government which LGBT Kiwis should be wary of. Nervous for gay NZers: ex-MP Tim Barnett "The new National-led government professes to be inclusive – the test of them is whether that includes us, and whether they'll reform some of the things Labour's done," Barnett tells "There will be a number of MPs in the governing Party who do not have a great deal of tolerance for lesbian and gay New Zealanders – and some of them used homophobic themes in their campaigns. So there's good reason to be nervous." Barnett believes Parliament's equality agenda is no longer so much about changing laws – it's about changing practices in government departments. "And that's really much more the responsibility of ministers to lead on. Now Clem Simich, Mark Blumsky and Katherine Rich having gone, I don't know if they'll be many people in National who'll be prepared to stick their neck out to be friends to our community." With Grant Robertson and Kevin Hague entering the House, there are still six opnly-LGBT MPs, the same as before the election. Barnett believes it's a good number, which of the 121 total MPs, isn't far away from the numbers we are in general society. "And with Kevin there from the South Island, the geographical range has stayed there," the ex-Christchurch Central MP says. "So we've now established that the centre-left Parties do recognize that diversity includes people from our communities, just like it includes gender and racial difference for example. But there's hardly any of that in the National caucus – and that's a worry."    

Credit: Daily News Staff

First published: Tuesday, 11th November 2008 - 5:34pm

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