Kevin Stitt March 4, 2017
After accepting an invitation to the University of Auckland Debating Society’s debate late last year, the Conservative Party has just been informed, less than a week before the debate, that it will no longer be allowed to participate as there have been some “late inclusions!” Apparently, there are now nine speakers.
At the last election, the Conservative Party polled 5th highest, higher than Act, higher than the Maori Party, higher than Mana/Internet, higher than United Future, all of whom have representatives in the debate, so it cannot be our policies. And Mana are not in parliament.
Our representative Elliot Ikilei has a lifetime of experience working with broken families, so it surely cannot be the quality of representation.
We immediately wrote a reply to our contact, requesting reconsideration, letting them know that Elliot represents the vulnerable and broken families, that he has lived through experiences and worked on the front line with our families far longer and more deeply than any other member on the panel; we wrote of him being forced into the public arena due to watching families becoming more and more broken from direct policies coming straight out of Wellington.
We have heard no reply and we have been removed from the debate scheduled for Mar 9.
We want you to have a look at the politicians on that list; you will find no one with Pasifika blood as Elliot has, no one who has been raised in East and South Auckland as Elliot has; and you will find no one on that list, except perhaps Whaea Marama, who have dedicated their life, professionally and personally, to the strengthening and protection of our vulnerable and at-risk youth and their families as Elliot has.
We want to ask the University why diversity of culture is not encouraged by inviting such,
or why diversity of ethnicity is not encouraged by inviting such,
or why diversity of ideology is not encouraged by inviting such?
Saddening, though not entirely surprising.
Surely the University should be one place that welcomes educated debates, and life experience is the best education.
Leighton Baker, Party Leader