Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Barry Soper: Failure to hold Trevor Mallard to account shows Labour's hypocrisy


Jacinda Ardern preaches about it time and again. How we should all be kind to each other and to look after our wellbeing.

Well, the Prime Minister's just lost all moral authority to preach to us about niceness, because on that score she's failed miserably and so have her Labour sheep in Parliament.

You just had to hear them bleating in Parliament's debating chamber as National's Chris Bishop attempted against all odds to move a vote of no confidence in Speaker Trevor Mallard.

It was against all odds because the odds in this Parliament are heavily weighted in Labour's favour and it takes only one of the sheep to bleat and the motion fails, as it did overwhelmingly in this case.

If they were an open and transparent Government, if they were democratic and prepared to have the country listen to why National's lost confidence in Mallard they could have remained silent and the debate could proceed, even if at the end of it Mallard would remain in his job.

Perhaps they felt that the argument for removing him would have been so overwhelming, and it would have been, that their defence of him would have burned their political capital in bucket loads.

So, in reality they are now telling us it's okay to call a man a rapist, to ruin his life leaving him bereft and jobless? Well, that would seem to be the case.

For Ardern to simply say Mallard made a mistake and he's atoned with an apology for it is simply not good enough.

Within 24 hours of labelling the man a rapist Mallard says he realised he was wrong but waited for 18 months, leaving the taxpayer with a $330,000 legal bill, before he admitted it. He waited for the last day Parliament was sitting to make public his dreadful mistake and issue an apology, and on the same day that the Royal Commission into the mosque shootings delivered its report and knowing Ardern had finished her round for media interviews for the year.

This was simply his attempt to bury it, to hope no one noticed.

Mallard may now be safe in his job but is now without any moral authority.

The whole case is about, in Mallard's case power, over the powerless who is the man he accused of rape.

This case also says a lot about what a cowered society we have become.

I was the only journalist to seek out the aggrieved man to hear his side of the story, others it seems were too timid, presumably afraid of being labelled themselves for protecting and defending a rapist, as I was on many occasions.

I lived under a hail of social media abuse and vitriol which of course paled into insignificance compared to what Mallard's target was condemned to live through.

This has been the shabbiest episode of inequality that I've experienced since starting to work at Parliament before Jacinda Ardern was born.

If this is the Prime Minister's view of being kind and caring for the wellbeing of others, I'm most certainly not on the team five million that she so frequently refers to.

Barry Soper is a New Zealand political journalist, and has been featured regularly on radio and television since the 1970s. Currently, Soper's main role is political editor at Newstalk ZB, a radio network in New Zealand.

1 comment:

DeeM said...

Her Royal Kindness is rather selective on who she deems deserving of her support and nauseating platitudes. The team of 5 million is a myth. Her current term in office is turning into one of the most authoritarian in recent NZ history and she now feels her 51% majority gives her the right to act with impunity.
The country has never been more divided by race with Labour backing a complete restructure of NZ culture, justice and government based on some Disneyland Maori history which never existed.
Mallard is her enforcer, although these days he struggles to enforce the dress code, and one of the party faithful so all is forgiven. Give it a year and all MPs will have to wear greenstone and have a Maori tattoo and sing before and after each session of parliament. That would certainly clear the public gallery!