Jacinda Ardern Via Getty
Jacinda Ardern Via Getty

Peter Williams: Jacinda Ardern has insulted all of us

Opinion 05/05/2021

OPINION: Parliament was back for the first day after the school holidays on Tuesday and some of the carry-ons bordered on the unbelievable. 

How about Jacinda Ardern saying that the He Puapua report on the Indigenous Peoples Declaration shouldn’t have been released in case taxpayers didn’t understand it. The sheer arrogance of that statement is frankly breathtaking. Are we, as mere minions of this Labour government, just voters not to be trusted with a report that suggests a fundamental change to New Zealand society? 

How can she be allowed to get away with such an insult to the people of New Zealand? 

Make no mistake, the Labour Party is running scared on this. The Maori caucus is causing all sorts of issues and we’re seeing that in reports of a rift between Megan Woods as the Housing Minister and the Maori caucus which has been exposed for all to see in recent days. 

Ardern knows that the contents of He Puapua are a potential death knell for her government if enacted. That’s why she tried to hide it, has tried to shut down discussion on the issue, and is now resorting to insults on our intelligence. 

The opposition parties are on a roll here because as ACT reported yesterday, New Zealand has already submitted to the United Nations on the declaration saying that New Zealand wants to implement the Declaration’s objectives and goals, which have the self-determination of indigenous peoples as the primary aim. Frankly, we have to have a major talk in this country about two things - what is self-determination, and what is indigenous? And until we have those defined we really can’t go any further can we?

Then also in the Parliament last night, the speaker Trevor Mallard with another unbelievable display of arrogance and bullying, the likes of which I didn’t think human beings were capable of. 

Remember the back story? He accused a man who worked in parliament of rape. Late last year Mallard admitted he was wrong, he apologised and the accused man was paid 330,000 dollars from the taxpayer in compensation. The man didn’t get his job back and is now suing Parliamentary Services for constructive dismissal which is no doubt going to cost the taxpayer hundreds of thousands of dollars more. 

Last night, in the house, Mallard - despite previously apologising for calling the man a rapist - said the man had committed sexual assault. He said it under Parliamentary privilege so he can’t be sued for defamation. 

Now a couple of really important points here. Mallard has not spoken to the woman who was allegedly sexually assaulted. And an internal investigation has found no wrongdoing on the part of the man. He then went on to say that the internal investigation was a disgrace and was done amid a culture of cover-up. There was a second investigation, the matter was referred to the police who did not prosecute the man. 

The man’s employer, Parliamentary Services, will not settle the employment dispute because the Chief Executive believes the man has done something wrong - a wrong that two internal investigations and a police inquiry have failed to bring to a prosecution. 

The situation is just disgraceful. It is arrogant bullying of the worst kind and the government condones it.

Is their outright majority in the house, combined with parliamentary privilege, being used to cover up what would be in a court of law be considered as unacceptable and unlawful behaviour? The answer to that is most certainly yes. 

The longer this festering sore that is the behaviour of the Speaker continues, the more damaging it must be for the Labour government, surely.

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