National Party better than 'irrelevant bigot' Don Brash, says Grant Robertson

Don Brash (AAP)
Don Brash (AAP)

Labour's Grant Robertson has labelled Don Brash an "irrelevant bigot" over his latest effort to make race a hot-button issue.

The former ACT and National Party leader has launched lobby group Hobson's Pledge, aiming to "arrest a decline into irreversible separatism" caused by "race-based privilege".

Speaking to Paul Henry this morning, Mr Robertson said the media shouldn't bother airing Dr Brash's views.

"This notion of Maori privilege is ridiculous. He tried it a decade ago, the climate was a bit different, he got a bit of traction - we've all moved on."

Dr Brash brought National back from the brink of oblivion in 2004 with his infamous Orewa speech. Its focus on racial issues saw National jump 17 points in the polls, up to 45 percent - more than double its result at the 2002 general election.

He nearly became Prime Minister in 2005 after his party ran billboards saying Labour was for "iwi" and National was for "Kiwi".

In contrast, Mr Robertson says National under John Key has "been really good and responsible in Treaty settlement legislation".

"[Treaty Negotiations Minister ] Chris Finlayson's done a really good job. It's taken a lot of the political heat out of the issue."

Even Paula Bennett, who entered Parliament under Dr Brash in 2005, says he's "really wrong".

"I think we have some of the most settled [race] relations across the world," she told Paul Henry.

"[It] doesn't mean we don't have challenges every now and then - in some respects that's kind of healthy, that we can have a bit of a debate and a bit of an argument."

Dr Brash, now 76, has ruled out another tilt at Parliament.