Guy McCallum, who has quit as Act's Dunedin North
candidate. Photo by Linda Robertson
Act New Zealand's Dunedin North candidate has quit,
citing a ''fundamental disagreement'' with leader Dr Jamie
Whyte over race relations.
Guy McCallum (28), of Dunedin, said yesterday he was taking a
break from politics but had not relinquished his party
Dr Whyte sparked controversy in a speech last week in which
he likened Maori to pre-revolutionary French aristocracy, and
vowed to repeal ''all race-based laws''.
Mr McCallum did not see legal consideration for Maori as
special privilege but as legal rights designed to prevent
Comparing Maori with French aristocrats was ''unfortunate and
''Jamie told me he was in search of a stunt when he was here
[in Dunedin last month]. He was sitting next to me as he said
it, and he shrugged.''
Mr McCallum had had both flak and support from other members
since quitting as candidate this week.
Some had told him he had wasted the party's time and money.
He also stood in the seat in 2011.
He did not think Dr Whyte intended to stoke racism, but that
was the effect of his actions.
Mr McCallum supports Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan
Devoy's criticism of the speech, and said the situation
illustrated ''precisely'' why New Zealand needed the race
His leader has called for Dame Susan's resignation.
Act's race-based campaigning was ''less premeditated'' than
National's 2005 race-based campaign, and was probably a
consequence of too little policy development.
He acknowledged he signed off the policy as a party board
member, but said he had understood it would not be
emphasised, because it was not developed enough to take
account of unfairness in society, such as the way
white-collar criminals were treated.
''If we want to talk about privilege in this country, that's
where the issue is [white-collar crime]. It's got nothing to
do with Maori legal rights, that finally Maori are beginning
to enjoy along with the rest of us.''
Mr McCallum, a former Act on Campus vice-president who
describes himself as an anti-authoritarian on the
left-leaning side of the party, said he sensed ''very much''
that the party was moving further to the right.
Act president John Thompson told the ODT yesterday donations
were ''rolling in'' to the party after it launched race as an
issue in the campaign.
''Since we have come out like that, the money is rolling
Apart from Mr McCallum, feedback had been positive from Act
members and candidates about the policy.
He questioned why Mr McCallum was complaining, given he was
on the board that signed off the policy.
On whether Dr Whyte told Mr McCallum he was planning an
election stunt, Mr Thompson suggested that was ''a figment of
''There are no stunts.''
Asked if focusing on race-based issues was reminiscent of
National's 2005 campaign, which was perceived as negative, Mr
Thompson said he did not remember any negative comments about
the 2005 campaign.
''It actually took Don Brash from being very low in the
polls, and National [from] very low in the polls, to being
nearly in Government.''
Asked if he expected Act's low polling to receive a boost, he
said: ''I hope to see us go up in the polls, yes, but that's
not just relating to the [race-based laws policy].''
Of Dame Susan's comments, Mr Thompson said she ''should stick
to sport and squash'', and had clearly not read the speech.
Dr Whyte could not be reached for comment, but he told the
New Zealand Herald Mr McCallum had indicated to him he was
not happy with the speech, so his resignation was not a
However, Dr Whyte was surprised Mr McCallum had gone public
with his criticism of the speech and policy.
''I like Guy. He's a very nice guy. I was honestly confused
by his response, because this is a long standing Act policy,
but there you have it and he's resigned.
Former Act MP Hilary Calvert, a Dunedin city councillor, said
Mr McCallum was sincere and well motivated, and involved in
''He is the kind of person that Act needs. He is a caring,