“Affirmative action schemes have been running in New Zealand universities for a generation and no one seems able to prove any demonstrable benefits to disadvantaged communities. We shouldn’t accept any form of discrimination if it isn’t delivering results,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“Affirmative action is a legal form of discrimination if it is temporary and absolutely necessary. It’s not clear when affirmative action in universities is expected to end, or if it is actually making a difference.

“Domestically and internationally, New Zealand’s Government has exemptions that allow racial discrimination, but only if it is achieving a specific purpose. ACT does not accept that racial discrimination is the best way to achieve equity, because while all people have ethnicity, all people are more than their ethnicity, however even by the standards of these exemptions, affirmative action has not been proving.

“The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination is clear that affirmative action is only justified while achieving a result, ‘These measures shall in no case entail as a consequence the maintenance of unequal or separate rights for different racial groups after the objectives for which they were taken have been achieved.’

The Bill of Rights exempts the Government from its ban on racial discrimination, if there is a clear objective: ‘Measures taken in good faith for the purpose of assisting or advancing persons or groups of persons disadvantaged because of discrimination that is unlawful by virtue of Part 2 of the Human Rights Act 1993 do not constitute discrimination.’

“The Otago University medical school gives priority entry to qualified applicants who are Māori, Pasifika or from rural upbringings, lower decile schools or refugee families. Once these students are selected into the degree programme, the remaining places are distributed among other applicants based on academic record.

“The idea is that by accepting more people from these communities they will go back and serve them, but there is no proof that this is the case or that it has helped with health inequities. If there’s no evidence, then universities should just treat students equally.

“The next Government need to hold Universities to account. Are they achieving results in return for accessing an exemption on racial discrimination? If not, they need to stop.

“Is it really in society’s best interests if students with A+ averages miss out on spots because their upbringing doesn’t fit into the right category? Is it fair that a student from a relatively privileged home with Māori heritage could be admitted over a Filipino student from a poorer home despite their better marks?

“Universities have had a generation to gather the results from affirmative action. Time’s up, if they can’t prove that it is making a serious difference then it should be gone.”

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