Green Party co-leaders James Shaw and Marama Davidson have called the National Party’s rhetoric “racist” and are now calling the party “hypocritical”. Photo / Mark Mitchell
The Greens are calling the National Party “hypocritical” for what it says is empty rhetoric on Te Tiriti o Waitangi, while saying its vote against a bill banning conversion therapy is “despicable politics”.
Party co-leader James Shaw added that National MPs who want conversion therapy banned should have had the courage of their convictions and crossed the floor at the bill’s first reading.
Shaw and co-leader Marama Davidson made their comments to media at the party’s AGM in Upper Hutt today, which took place at the same time as the National Party’s AGM in Auckland.
National Party leader Judith Collins used her speech today to outline the party’s key areas of focus, while adding that “recognising the Treaty as a founding document” was a core party value.
Asked about this, Davidson said it was “a bit of a laugh and quite hypocritical” seeing as Collins had been claiming a Government’s hidden separatist agenda based on a document that wasn’t Government policy.
This week Collins also supported her MP Stuart Smith’s call for a referendum on the country’s name as “Aotearoa”. Smith added that government departments should stop using “Aotearoa” until the referendum could be held.
Davidson said National’s rhetoric was “dangerous” and she would continue to “call out any racism, any bigotry”.
She said it was “hypocritical” for National to oppose the first reading of a bill banning conversion therapy.
Act had a similar position to National – supporting the bill’s intent but with concerns about criminalising parents – but voted in favour of the bill to it to select committee.
“They [National] said on the one hand they’re against conversion therapy,” Davidson said.
“They didn’t vote for it. Then they completely misunderstood or wanted to purposefully mislead what the bill would actually do.
“Why didn’t they just support us at the first reading, instead of playing politics in a way that actually continues to harm people who are already struggling to be seen as valid parts of our families and communities? That’s quite a despicable approach to politics.”
Young Nats president Stephanie-Anne Ross told the National Party’s AGM that the youth wing was disappointed in the party’s opposition to the bill.
MPs including Chris Bishop, Nicola Willis, Erica Stanford, Nicola Grigg, Matt Doocey, Joseph Mooney and Mark Mitchell wore rainbow ribbons at the AGM to show their support.
After the first reading, Bishop suggested on Twitter that the way he had wanted to vote on the bill was hamstrung by a caucus decision.
I strongly support banning conversion therapy. That is Nationals position too. Our caucus has determined we cant support the bill in its current form. I am confident Parliament can improve the law so we can support the bill into law.
— Christopher Bishop (@cjsbishop) August 5, 2021
Shaw said National MPs who wanted to support the bill at first reading should have just done so – even if that meant crossing the floor and potentially leaving an impression of a divided caucus just days before the party’s AGM.
“They should have just had the courage of their convictions, because it’s just so transparent that they’re not united on this,” Shaw said.
“They look like they didn’t have any moral compass or any convictions.”
Shaw said the National Party’s lines this weekend on learning from past mistakes didn’t make sense given the decision not to make any changes at the top; Peter Goodfellow has been re-elected National Party president, triggering David Carter to resign from the board.
“At a time when we’ve got a climate crisis, a housing crisis, a 30-year infrastructure deficit … not to mention a pandemic on top of all of it, and they are just going down these weird rabbit holes, trying to trigger people into switching the vote back to them,” Shaw said.
“I don’t think anybody buys it. And I don’t think it’s good for the country.”
He also criticised Labour for failing the hundreds of thousands of migrants on temporary visas, whose futures remain in limbo for over a year with no pathway to residency.
Those migrants should all be granted New Zealand residency, Shaw said.
“These are people who have actually contributed to the team of five million. They were part of that effort to keep everybody safe, they’re paying taxes, they’re part of their communities. That should be acknowledged.
“And this pandemic is not over yet. We’ve still got a way to play out, and it seems deeply unfair that we aren’t including them.”