Manukau Courier

In the blue corner

- StuartSmit­h KaikouraMP, National

Everybody has the right to protest, we live in a liberal democracy where people are free to disagree with others and particular­ly the Government.

In saying that, there is a level of decorum which needs to be adhered to during a protest, and blocking the streets, spitting, abusing people and being overtly anti-social is no way to go about protesting.

Unfortunat­ely the valid concerns that the protesters have about mandates will likely be overwhelme­d by disruption to already struggling businesses in central Wellington by the illegally parked vehicles and the poor manner in which some of the protesters have conducted themselves.

The protest has almost been going for two weeks, and Wellington­ians and New Zealanders have no clear indication of when it will end.

We also have the Speaker of the House Trevor Mallard acting like a toddler turning the sprinklers on and blasting music through speakers against police advice, which has only made things worse. This is far from the standard of behaviour expected of the presiding officer of our Parliament, and I strongly support the motion of no confidence which the National party lodged last Wednesday.

Instead of turning on sprinklers, and hiding behind the Speaker, the Government needs to show some leadership and work with the police to deescalate the situation. The prime minister was very quick to insert herself in the middle of the Ihumatao protests in 2019, but has been notably absent in the last couple ofweeks. Leadership is about making tough decisions and dealing with all New Zealanders, not just thosewho agreewith you.

I ammore than willing to engage with protesters who have differing views than I do, but first they must respect the freedoms of others to go about their daily lives.

What I do think the protest symbolises though, is a nationwide frustratio­n to the Government’s response to the pandemic.

They imposed vaccine mandates, without givingNew Zealanders the criteria for which they will be abolished. We still don’t have enough rapid antigen tests and the cost of living is rising as a result of the economic excesses that the Government have sneaked in under the cover their Covid response.

All of these things are making life worse for New Zealanders, it is time to ‘‘govern for all New Zealanders’’.

New Zealanders, whatever their opinions and beliefs, deserve nothing less.

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