OPINION:
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. 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 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 he 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, 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 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.
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 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 to whom she so frequently refers.