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Press Council won't act over cartoons yet

Friday 31 May 2013 5:54 a.m.

The cartoon published inthe Marlborough Express

The cartoon published inthe Marlborough Express

Despite public backlash, the Press Council says it won't act on any complaints over two controversial political cartoons until the newspapers' editors have had time to remedy the situation first.

There's been a negative reaction to Marlborough Express and The Press' publications of the cartoons which showed a family of either Maori or Pacific Island adults discussing how they'll have more cash for "booze, smokes and pokies" when the food in schools programme starts.

The Press Council said yesterday it had received two inquiries so far about complaints.

Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy has also been criticised for saying the two controversial cartoons aren't racist.

Dame Susan called a press conference yesterday to tell reporters the cartoons were offensive but not racist.

She says she will write to the newspapers' editors to request a meeting, and wants people offended by the cartoons to make their views clear to the editors or the Press Council.

The Mana Party, which sent a written complaint to her yesterday morning, doesn't accept that.

"She is showing a basic misunderstanding of the law and her role," said Mana vice-president John Minto.

"Because the target is vulnerable children living in poverty it can be comfortably argued that such a cartoon does incite racial hatred."

Mr Minto is challenging Dame Susan to find out for herself how Maori and Pasifika children feel about the cartoons by talking to them.

"Most kids will be able to help her with a few more adjectives to go with racist to describe the cartoons," he said.

Two Maori MPs have said the cartoons are racist, although they've stopped short of criticising Dame Susan.

"What the hell did Maori do to deserve this - steal someone's land?" said National's Tau Henare.

"I'm angry, I've had enough, I've had a gutsful."

Maori Party MP Te Ururoa Flavell says the cartoons are racist and editors should apologise.

Cartoonist Al Nisbet, who drew them, says he was "just trying to be funny" and wanted to provoke a reaction - whether it was good or bad.

RadioLIVE/NZN

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