Red Alert

Reflecting on yesterday

Posted by on October 6th, 2011

In a lot of ways I would rather not write this post, but I have been reflecting on what happened yesterday in the Parliamentary debating chamber and there are some things I want to say. The incident itself is not a political matter It was an awful experience, and had potential tragedy written all over it. The man who tried to throw himself into the chamber just a couple of feet from where I was sitting, clearly is troubled. Like many people I see in my electorate office it sounds like he has major problems with government agencies, and he was agitated. He was heading over the balcony head first, to a four metre drop, onto a collection of desks, chairs and people. To me it was the act of someone with deep and difficult issues and problems. I hope he is now getting help to deal with those.

The actions of the security guards and members of the public who pulled him back and then had to struggle further with him were courageous and certainly saved him and others from serious injury. I know that all MPs are grateful for their actions. From our party, Phil managed to speak to the guard before he was taken to hospital and Annette visited him last night in A and E (where, I am told, he waited nearly 6 hours before getting medical attention), and I understand he is doing ok today.

But there is a political element, and it was introduced by the Prime Minister. I just can not fathom his reaction. I could not hear everything he said, and it is not picked up on video because his microphone was not on, but from talking to others, it is quite clear he was talking about the incident and saying “Labour should be ashamed”, and that is “down to you”. He then did a strange gesture moving his hand across his throat (you can see it at 2.06 on the video below). What follows from that is the angry reaction from Labour members, and what I think was a very measured and calm response from Phil Goff.

Emotions were running high for all of us, and I accept that the PM would have been as disturbed as anyone in the Chamber. But now that he has had time to reflect, would it hurt for him to acknowledge that somehow trying to link Labour to the incident was wrong, inappropriate and highly likely to cause extreme offense? He has said he was making some reference to DPS. I am not sure what the connection was actually, albeit a DPS officer assisted once the man had been hauled back over the balcony. In any case, that does not make it right to link Labour with the incident.

Parliament can be a high emotion, robust and stressful environment, and in the heat of the moment some terrible things get said. If Mr Key had come out and said yesterday that he was sorry for linking Labour to the incident but that it was a very stressful time, he might actually have gone up in my estimations. Unfortunately, he has gone down.


66 Responses to “Reflecting on yesterday”

  1. Sofie Bribiesca says:

    Not that I think the Herald is the best source of info but there is this article about Annette and Tevor saying “”scumbag”, but I only head Annette in the vid reacting to Key’s hissy fit.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=1075713

  2. Tracey says:

    Anne – I find the Herald’s comment section is usually a 50-50 mixture of so-called right and left wing viewpoints.

  3. Sofie Bribiesca says:

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=10757130

    Something amiss with that link so have tried again

  4. Anne says:

    @ Tracey
    Confess I havn’t been reading them for quite a while. Went off the Herald in a big way. In earlier times the comments were heavily in favour of the conservative view point. Good to hear the balance is changing. Will start to read them again. :)

  5. Anne says:

    Accidental repeat.

  6. cmonlabour says:

    I think we should all reflect on whether some of the more outlandish comments on blogs are more or less likely to cause a similar sad member of the public to act in such an extreme manner.

  7. Anne says:

    Members of the public don’t act on so-called outlandish comments on blog sites. Only about 10% of the population even know they exist. In this case, the man clearly acted out of frustration and stress caused by the punitive measures put in place by this govt., while at the same time they handed out tax cuts to their wealthy mates. If this trend continues there will many more desperate acts being carried out by desperate people. Good try to deflect blame on to left-leaning blog commenters cmonlabour.

  8. cmonlabour says:

    @Anne take a big breath, I am not trying to deflect any share of blame onto anyone – all I am saying is that people should reflect on whether their comments serve to increase or decrease the amount of hate and strife in the world.

  9. Anne says:

    Accept your explanation cmonlabour, but don’t agree that comments on blog sites have any sizable effect on people’s actions because they are seen by relatively few people. Now if you were referring to public communication channels like TV, radio and newspapers then that is a different story.

  10. Spud says:

    Hi Anne! :-D

  11. Ross says:

    I think that some comments from Labour’s side, while probably justified, came out bad in the media. This was a great opportunity for Labour and because of insulting comments distracted media condemnation.

    Unfortunately, it seems that Clare and Trevor are right and there are conspiracies out there. Unfortunately they are concentrated inside the Labour Party and the prize is the Leader’s seat. Also known as factionalism.

  12. cmonlabour says:

    @ Anne – I agree the MSM need to be very prudent but I think you’d be surprised by the pack mentality on some websites if some of the things people are motivated to say represent their actual intentions it would be extremely concerning.

  13. Anne says:

    @cmonlabour. I agree there can be a pack mentality on blog-sites. Sometimes there’s humour and wit and they’re worth a read (so long as you don’t take them seriously) other times they go to unpleasant extremes. Best to scroll over them and not get caught up in it.

  14. Anne says:

    Hi Spud. :)

  15. [...] risk. In short, it supports the claim – made by Labour MPs and others (see comment thread here) – that Key was exceptionally scared by the incident and was consumed by his personal safety [...]