Guy McCallum explains his resignation

After resigning as an Act candidate – Act candidate resigns over race relations policy – Guy McCallum has explained why he did this on Facebook:

So on Thursday I made a decision to leave ACT because of differences in approach to Race Relations policy. This news has inevitably made it (big deep breath) into the world of public opinion.

This is where I’m coming from.

According to Radio Live, Jamie still likes me. However, that doesn’t change the fact that if Maori had their so-called ‘privilege’ taken away, I would still have mine as a Pakeha male. This is why I believe that indigenous rights are important; in Canada, indigenous rights are enshrined. Indigenous First Nation and Inuit people no longer have to tolerate neglect nor prejudice from governments and from other people. Their individual rights are protected from ethnic discrimination.

In NZ, all of our rights can be changed by law with astonishing speed and arrogance. Despite Maori legal rights being subject to that danger too, they are there to prevent discrimination based on someone’s identification as Maori. It is fair, still, that these rights imply obligations on the authority which violated those rights for so, so long.

Opposition to Maori legal rights cannot be excused by having Maori friends. I have taken this stand to show that one must defend their friends’ rights to be counted the same as I.

Neither can we appeal to voters, reporters and commentators for a civil debate, when we intend to shoot down those who disagree. That is no way to conduct a civil debate about a long and undignified chapter of NZ history.

When this is understood, and the lessons of this moment (and history) are learned, we could right a lot of wrongs and confidently open our worlds to one another. I patiently await the day.

And a big shout out to Dr Janine Hayward. She singled me out in an Indigenous Politics class and said that Don Brash had a lot of explaining to do. Instead, I took that moment to do a lot of thinking. I also want to thank those who have supported me as I enter this vulnerable chapter.

This links to 3 News coverage of his resignation – ACT member quitting over Whyte’s race speech.

There is some criticism in the Facebook comments but a lot of ‘likes’ and support as well

Act candidate resigns over race relations policy

Otago University’s student news Critic has announced ACT candidate for Dunedin North resigns.

ACT Party Board member and Dunedin North candidate Guy McCallum has officially resigned and withdrawn his candidacy as the result of “the development of a race relations policy” that “blindsided” him.

This resignation comes in the wake of ACT leader Jamie Whyte’s shock speech at the ACT Waikato Conference, which called for the elimination of race-based legal provisions. “Maori are legally privileged in New Zealand today, just as the Aristocracy were legally privileged in pre-revolutionary France,” Whyte claimed.

When asked what the aforementioned race relations policy entailed, McCallum noted, “quota systems at universities would be abolished, co management arrangements would be repealed, Maori Television would be scrapped, as well as ending the Race Relations Commissioner role.”

“In fact, I didn’t know the Hamilton speech was coming,” claims McCallum. “Jamie was in Dunedin for a small gathering of ACT supporters on the morning of 20 July, and he mentioned to me that he was in search of a ‘stunt … because you know, the polls.’ A week later ACT rolled out a controversial and obviously unprepared race relations policy.”

McCallum claimed Whyte’s call for Dame Susan Devoy’s resignation was “the final straw … People criticising Jamie for One Country, One Law have only been met with derision; either they haven’t read his speeches, have ulterior political motives, or are, by him, wrong.”

“ACT’s policies are about reminding you of scary burglars, zealous bureaucrats with a hidden green agenda, and resentful Maori of taking an equal placing. This is the imagery the vague words are designed to create. Liberals and libertarians are getting a rough deal from ACT. The positive ideals they represent are used as currency to hedge conservative influence, like the Tea Party. A lot of libertarians have avoided ACT for these reasons. For wanting to change that, I find myself in present circumstances.”

“I have spoken to other members of the Party who are becoming concerned that ACT is focusing more on fear and prejudice to gain votes.”

McCallum has been active in ACT on Campus since 2010. He stood the Dunedin North candidate in the 2011 election (I got to know him then as I was also a candidate).

He became the ACT on Campus Vice President in 2012, and for the past two years has served on the ACT Party Board as a regional member.

McCallum organised the southern regional meeting referred to as “a small gathering of ACT supporters” – I was invited to that and attended as an interested observer (I have no connecting with the Act Party). I talked to him about the upcoming election and  McCallum appeared to be looking forward to standing in it.

This may harm Act – internal divisions are not a good look for a party.

On the other hand it could help Act. The race/Maori gambit played by Whyte was presumably deliberately designed to provoke race debate and attract attention to a party struggling for political oxygen.

This has resulted in a surge of Maori bashing amongst a minority which Act see as potential votes.

A down side is already obvious, media response to Whyte’s attack on Maori ‘privilege’ shows that political journalists are not exactly looking favoiurably on the tactics of the Act leader.

It’s another make or break election for Act. Stirring up racial prejudice is very risky campaign strategy which could get a few votes but time will tell whether it’s enough.

This may also not be helpful for National.