NZ First MP accused of 'borderline racial diatribe'
By Peter Wilson
NZ First MP Ron Mark has been accused of delivering "a borderline racial diatribe" in Parliament after suggesting National's Melissa Lee should go back to Korea.
Ms Lee said during the first reading debate on the Easter trading Bill that when she came to New Zealand 30 years ago she had been surprised to discover shops closed at 5pm.
"That was really, really surprising... in other cities they opened till 10 or midnight, or 24/7," Mr Lee said last night.
Mr Mark said he had a message for her: "If you don't like New Zealand, go back to Korea."
He also drew National's Kanwil Bakshi into the debate, though Mr Bakshi had not spoken, saying there were numerous religious holidays in India when no one worked.
"Don't come into this house preaching and telling New Zealanders to grow up; don't give us the condescending rhetoric," Mr Mark said.
Maori Party MP Marama Fox said listening to Mr Mark had been an embarrassment.
"I didn't intend to speak until I heard Ron Mark deliver a borderline racial diatribe about members of this house," Ms Fox said.
"They come here because they have been voted in, they are New Zealand citizens... I couldn't sit here and listen to that sort of drivel and not say my piece."
National's Alastair Scott said he had been disgusted by Mr Mark's remarks.
"He has cast a shadow across his own party," Mr Scott said.
Mr Bakshi took a call, and told Mr Mark he had got his facts wrong.
"On any religious day in India, on a holiday, shops open," he said.
"Every religious day, every shop trades.
"The only two days when India is closed is Republic Day and Independence Day."
The Bill allows councils to decide whether shops in their area should be allowed to open on Easter Sunday.
It passed its first reading 75-45.