In her Herald on Sunday column this week Heather Du Plessis-Allan suggested some silly people came along to last Thursday’s anti-Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) protests and ruined everything, and now the country will never want to talk about free trade ever again – because, well – bad protesters. I imagine a ‘good protester’ to Du Plessis-Allan is someone who quietly marches waving an inoffensive placard, in an inoffensive way, accompanied by an inoffensive chant, asking to have an inoffensive conversation, with some inoffensive people – someone, who even Mike Hosking’s so-called “regular New Zealanders” could give their inoffensive nod of approval too.
Guess what guys, the revolution was never meant to be inoffensive, nor something easily slotted in between a pedicure and picking the kids up at three. Protesting, by its nature, is an inconvenience. If it doesn’t make the viewer uncomfortable it is not doing its job. Also protesting, or the right to protest, is a democratic right in our country – we literally go to war in other countries to afford their peoples the same rights. Let that sink in for a minute. While the boys and girls of our Fourth Estate reduce serious issues to ‘silly protesters’ and ‘traffic inconveniences’ – we send men and women to potentially die in foreign lands to give or to restore to a foreign citizen, their right to protest and inconvenience their governments. The very same rights it would seem that some people here would rather we didn’t have.
I don’t want to watch, or read, or hear another talking head whine about protesting “riff-raff” and “rent-a-crowd”. I want to watch, read, and hear them instead discuss the issues being protested, for, or against. Let’s not forget some media personalities are paid very well to do this, so why are they still struggling with the fundamentals of our democracy and getting away with it? Let alone being paid for that struggle? If Hosking for example can’t figure it out, please someone dear god explain it to him, and please let that someone not be Toni Street. Every time we allow important conversations to be derailed by lowest common denominator sound bites churned out to even lower common denominator audiences, we do New Zealand a disservice. We do our kids a disservice.
Not just content with sticking the knife into ‘bad protesters’ for giving protesting a bad image and turning people off talking about the TPPA, Du Plessis-Allan claims their actions single-handedly sent “ordinary people” – which I can only assume is Du Plessis-Allan ‘speak’ for Hosking’s “regular New Zealanders” – into the moderate and welcoming arms of the TPPA proponents. Really? Do we have evidence of this? Or is this something Du Plessis-Allan made up because she had a 500 word limit to fulfil? If so-called “ordinary” New Zealanders don’t understand the TPPA as she alleges and a bunch of protesters can scare them off, then that’s not the fault of the protester, that’s her fault, she is the journalist after all.
What has she done the past eight years to elucidate the masses? She derides and ridicules protesters for their ignorance in the face of a knowledge vacuum, but lets her so-called “ordinary people” and Hosking’s “real New Zealanders” off the hook, despite their own very obvious ignorance due to the same information void. The TPPA came out of the last decade when the United States wished to join the four country Trans-Pacific Economic Partnership Agreement (TPSEP) – so it has literally been a thing since January 2008. Why are we so ignorant to this agreement eight years on? Why are people fearful of not just it but many of its clauses? Can our broadcasters really say they’ve done their very best to give people not just credible, but also the factual information they would need to have to take a well-rounded position on it? I don’t think so.
It seems a major goal in the TPPA debate for some time now has being to avoid pushing for answers on contentious provisions in the agreement from the negotiating Executive, and instead drill non-negotiating opposition parties on their stance. Demanding to know if they are anti-free trade for example, because they, inexplicably it seems to some media, dare to question parts of the agreement while supporting others. For some, it’s like the media are fighting the fire in the letterbox while behind them the house burns. No wonder people are scared and effectively screaming at their screens, and now screaming into our screens, at the journalistic equivalent of the horror movie victim not heeding our warnings to ‘look behind’ them. If people for, against and everything between, are still ignorant of this agreement this late in the game, some feeling anxious, desperate and fearful, then someone’s not doing their job – or someone else is doing their job too a little too well.
On Radio New Zealand last week, ex Labour Party politician and Speaker of the House, Margaret Wilson, now Professor of Law and Public Policy at University of Waikato said this of the protesters and their perceived ignorance,
“Why they’re bothering is that somehow or another people feel they have to express to their government their feelings about both [the] process [of the TPPA], and [the] content in many ways as well, because they haven’t had any other opportunity to do so. In New Zealand’s constitutional arrangement, [protest] is the way in which the people, the only way really, substantially, [that people can] communicate directly [with the Executive].”
Du Plessis-Allan though bless her, hopes middle New Zealand will stay strong in the face of inconvenient protests and inner city traffic jams, and no matter how tedious, carry on the apparently newly started, but nevertheless important TPPA conversation. It’s almost like Du Plessis-Allan has only just realised the importance of it, let alone known that some of us have being desperately screaming out for us to have this conversation for some time. See what I did there Heather?
“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” – John F. Kennedy
Like it or not dear reader, the thousands of protesters who turned up last Thursday, and the many people who wish they could have, are not the people who need their actions questioned right now.
Viva la revolution.
Screwing the scrum: the government is screwing people and democracy by underfunding watchdogs and public service.
When I heard Nicky Hagar speak last year, he said the ‘takeaway’ from ‘Dirty Politics’ was not the salacious scandal but the slow erosion of democracy behind it. He asked we seek to create a society where our public service and our public servants, and scientists, and eductors and our health workers were not just free to speak-out against governments but supported to. Transperency in government should know no party colours.
Another Serious Fraud Office investigation worth mentioning: John Key did you lie to the Serious Fraud Office
Which of these currency traders turned politicians lied to a 1990’s joint Oz & NZ investigation into corporate fraud?
Which of these currency traders turned politicians lied to a 1990’s joint Australia & New Zealand investigation into corporate fraud?
More info in the links below:
It looks like today’s questions were a coordinated effort by opposition parties to make the prime minister answer questions and not have him fob them off to someone else or deny he has any responsibility to answer it. I thought Duncan Garner was a political journalist once, so surely he would have known this? Or is this fobbing off questions a new thing, unique to Team Key?
When MPs ask Key if he “stands by all his statements” he has to answer questions that are put to him and not pass it on to one of his Ministers. If they simply asked him about a particular subject, he can blow it off and not answer it by saying he has no responsibility for that portfolio, thereby wasting a valuable question. The government does this so the prime minister is kept from having to answer tough questions and/or be associated with dodgy, useless, inept, corrupt, etc, government ministers and departments.
For example you could ask Key about the state of operations at a particular DHB, he could claim he has no ‘ministerial responsibility for that’ and pass the question to his Minister of Health to answer. Or he might have made the claim a health department is operating very well, but when it’s proven it isn’t, he can simply deny he has any knowledge or responsibility for it. Whereas asking him if he “stands by all this statements” (usually it is only in relation to a particular topic) but to make the point the opposition parties gave him no wiggle room today by asking if he stood by all his statements since becoming prime minister, means he has to answer, and truthfully, MPs including the PM can not to lie to or mislead parliament. It’s probably the worse thing a politician can do.
Passing off questions has been happening a lot with this government and it frustrates democracy. A country needs a strong opposition (regardless of your politics) to hold governments to account but if they are hindered in the very house where they are meant to get answers for the public, from the very ministers or a prime minister who serve us, then there’s not much an opposition can be, but inept – and that doesn’t do anyone any favours. I applaud what the parties did to day. More of the same please.
Thank you, you brave, bold, brilliant women x
The third massive suffrage petition presented to Parliament in three years, this one was signed by more than 25,000 women. A dozen other, smaller suffrage petitions were also submitted around the same time. When pro-suffrage MP Sir John Hall presented them to the House of Representatives on 11 August, he noted that together they contained the signatures of nearly 32,000 women − almost a quarter of the entire adult European female population of New Zealand.