Release: Minister fails to stand up for ethnic communities

With 14% of jobs on the line at the Ministry for Ethnic Communities, the responsible Minister Melissa Lee is failing to stand up for the very communities she’s meant to be representing.

“Last month, Melissa Lee talked about New Zealand’s growing ethnic populations and how they need more support, and now she’s getting rid of some of the very people delivering that support in our communities,” Ethnic Communities spokesperson Jenny Salesa said.

“Having said herself the Ministry was running off the ‘smell of an oily rag’ and that our public service needs to reflect a rapidly growing ethnic population – the Minister needs to explain why the u-turn?

“It’s disheartening for our diverse ethnic communities that we have a Minister failing to stand up for her own Ministry’s ability to deliver for ethnic New Zealanders.

“This is especially concerning in our regions with cuts, as we understand, being proposed for staff in Hamilton, New Plymouth, Napier and Dunedin.

“In Question time today, the Minister also refused to rule out cuts to the Ethnic Communities Development Fund, which many communities throughout the country rely on to strengthen their own sense of belonging.

“This puts at risk cultural events like Diwali and Chinese Lantern Festivals, and various other support programmes like English-language courses for migrants and refugees.

“Our Labour Government established the Ministry off the back of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the March 15 terror attacks. It gave our ethnic communities a voice, direct support and helped promote social cohesion throughout our country.

“For the Minister to turn her back on these communities takes us backwards and is an affront to those who’ve fought hard to have a seat at the decision-making table and have their voices heard.

“I urge the Minister to rethink these cuts and give certainty to the communities relying on her to stand up for them,” Jenny Salesa said.

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