Sunday, February 20, 2022

Stephen Franks: Outcomes of the Parliamentary occupation

I spent time among the protesters on Thursday evening, then Saturday and several hours in the terrible rain on Sunday. I mainly wanted to see how the Police were handling it – since they plainly decided years ago to waive the law when private landowners (including Maori) sought protection against forceful Maori intruders – Shelly Bay being the latest local example. 

The Police conduct I saw (after the early failed attempt to arrest their way over the occupation) has been exemplary – if we accept that equality of treatment under the longstanding non-enforcement policy is a consoling value.

But I’ve been radicalised into hoping the protesters win (conspicuously by the end of mandates outside high transmission risk roles). That is by simple disgust at the bizarre RNZ and other MSM state propaganda vilifying the protesters. In my many hours there, I’ve seen nothing to support the calumny aimed at the protesters. Sure, its attracted some dingbats and potentially menacing individuals. But in my view a lower proportion than in most protests.
But even if there had been truth in the allegations that the protest was funded and inspired by sinister extreme right wing foreign influences and menacing elements, the repetition of those claims demonstrates a political generation’s childish inability to look more than one move past their predicament.

Once the Police had clearly decided they had to deal softly with the protesters the die was cast. There could be no credit for a government to have its Police tip-toeing around allegedly dangerous law-breakers. If you can’t get your Police to act, you should downplay the threat, not exaggerate it, if you are not to look unable to govern. Especially if there is a risk that you might have to compromise some time.

It was also silly for Coster to wade in saying he would be moving people and vehicles when he did not have the means. And for media to claim that the Backbencher was a victim of ghastly people without being sure that the owner would not come out as he has, endorsing their courtesy, cleanliness and conduct, and then their cause.

Once Winston effectively espoused the protest cause the thing became an unmitigated loss for National and ACT. Holding their prissy political class noses together with Labour gave Winston just what he needs. And exposed the comprehensive lack of statesmanship in Parliament parties.

There is a long way for this to run. The government might decide to up the stakes and fight to a conclusion. They might “win”. But there will be a larger segment of NZ society they will no longer be able to communicate with, at least for some time. That segment is getting a daily direct lesson that our leaders lie or are careless about making stuff up, that the political class (including political journalists) have decided to stifle debate and gag people who could supply facts. I think it quite possible that none of the party leaders in Parliament had any idea of the scale of anti-mandate sentiment. It has emerged full-blown in people I know well to be unequivocally pro vax.

Main stream media are now irrelevant to many people now being radicalised, as a source of objective news. Journalists standing on balconies with the rulers are no channel to the ruled, nor can they warn the rulers of unwelcome threads of opinion and concerns among those ruled.

If the Police do manage to end this occupation here, my guess is that will sow seeds for similar resistance to break out wherever people go home to. They could target symbolically important places and their tactics can evolve faster than the authorities can evolve theirs. Among other reasons because people who have lost their jobs have more time and less to lose than before, and because those the authorities call on to enforce the law may be unreliable. Too many may sympathise with the resistance. Like the towies.

Grounded Kiwis finally getting home as MIQ ends will be predisposed to think the worst of the government, and even the opposition for being too equivocal in urging the necessary changes in the system.

The common response of ACT, National, Labour, Greens and the Maori Party has been infantile – “I can’t see you, you’re on your own and if I talked to you other people would think I was a loser like you, you’re horrible, you stink so I won’t talk to you, everyone I know hates you, and you’ve been mean about me, so I’m not coming out of my bedroom”. But it is not funny. It is carrying us fast into the poisonous political polarisation that now discredits and paralyses other democracies.

We have been lucky with two leader s (Key and Ardern) who the haters could not persuade us to hate. But that has been good luck, not good management. After the childish moralisers took over political journalism and political parties the end of that was probably inevitable. Our luck has run out.

Stephen Franks is a principal of Wellington law firm Franks & Ogilvie and a former MP. He blogs at


DeeM said...

Agree with most of Stephen's article, but most definitely not with this statement at the end:-
"We have been lucky with two leader s (Key and Ardern) who the haters could not persuade us to hate."

In Ardern's case, lucky in what sense?
Lucky that she leads a government largely incompetent in most government sectors?
Lucky that she has embraced He Puapua and wants to create a separatist, bi-cultural state where part-Maori rule?
Lucky that she professes never to lie yet breaks her promise on no vaccine mandates?

Sorry Stephen. I don't see anything lucky in having Ardern as our leader and I think you'll find that many of the protesters agree.

Janine said...

Instead of listening to to the protesters, the latest news is the politicians want to build a wall around parliament. Good luck with procuring the building materials.

This is becoming truly outrageous. The people are not being respected or heard. I feel the politicians are not living up to their oathe of office.

I never liked Ardern as I saw her falseness from day one. It is taking others a lot longer it seems. I certainly didn't vote for her. She has caused much chaos and this will endure right up until the next election.

Key has been responsible for UNDRIP so I will not respect him again.

We need to stop all this " wanting to be liked" nonsense and have actual opposition in parliament.
Let's have some clear, measured and articulate people who truly represent us. People need to study their candidates in depth. It doesn't matter which party they belong to. Do they represent you and your values? Are they truthful?

Why would we vote for our local candidate if they didn't represent our views? No point actually.

Kiwialan said...

Lucky to have the past President of the International Socialist Youth Movement destroying our democracy, bare faced lying to the citizens she is supposed to represent, dividing our Country by introducing apartheid laws and pandering to a racial minority at the expense of the majority of taxpayers...... I could go on for hours. Thank God we are not unlucky. Some professional folks just don't have the wisdom to use their intelligence, all brainwashed by the Red Queen. Kiwialan.

Jigsaw said...

We seem absolutely bedeviled in the west and in this country as well with the idea that we must 'like' our leaders. I don't want a leader who is likeable but instead one who is effective and carries out good policies. Policies that they told us about before the election - so that we were all aware what we were voting for or against.
I never 'liked' John Key and it's many of his policies such as UNDRIP and the Seabed and Foreshore that were seemingly tossed off without a thought and that have in so many ways got us into the present muddle and from which the current National Party seem unable or unwilling to divorce themselves.
I do not want to 'like' Christopher Luxon- I want an opposition leader who can actually read the mood of the people and who comes up with policies that will ensure a colour-blind country that can go forward in the world without the racial division I see increasingly around me.
And most of all I do NOT 'like' Jacinda who talks about telling the truth in politics and yet finds more ways to lie that any Prime Minister before her. Who talks about 'kindness' and yet has policies that are brutal in the extreme. Who talks about a 'team of 5 million' and yet is always trying to sneak through divisive polices.
Let's have open and effective policies that benefit ALL New Zealanders as the truly desirable qualities.

Anonymous said...

Stephen, like DeeM I loved your article until the point where you said we were lucky to have Key and Ardern as leaders. You know very well the damage John Key has done by appeasing Maori interests: the UN indigenous rights nonsense and the Foreshore and Seabed legislation. The chickens have come home to roost on both those senseless actions. I was foolish enough to vote for John Key because I assumed too much. I most certainly was not so foolish to vote for Ardern and hope those that did realise their stupidity before next years election.

Geoffrey said...

Agree with DeeM, wholeheartedly