Green MP under fire for tweeting "are you okay, boomer?"

Author
Newstalk ZB / RNZ,
Publish Date
Tue, 24 Nov 2020, 6:16PM
Green MP Ricardo Menendez-March. Photo / Supplied
Green MP Ricardo Menendez-March. Photo / Supplied

Green MP under fire for tweeting "are you okay, boomer?"

Author
Newstalk ZB / RNZ,
Publish Date
Tue, 24 Nov 2020, 6:16PM

A Green MP has come under fire for a tweet that has been seen as offensive to older citizens.

Green MP Ricardo Menendez-March was yesterday announced as the party's spokesperson for seniors, and was quickly criticised on social media for stating he was ready to ask seniors "are you okay, boomer?".

The comment was made in reference to Chloe Swarbrick's infamous exchange with National MP Todd Muller in the House, in which she told him "Okay boomer" after he interrupted her speech on the Zero Carbon Amendment Bill.

In the same post, he pointed to the amount of welfare support seniors receive.

"Hardship grants for senior citizens have increased over the past few years, with growing inequities for our migrant, Pasifika and Māori senior citizens.

"Everybody deserves to grow old with dignity," his post said.

Menendez-March told Heather du Plessis-Allan that the tweet was meant to reach out

“It is a reaching out between generations in recognition that there are tensions because of generational differences, that I think we need to get together and resolve.”

He said that some senior citizens are doing it really rough because they are renting or disconnected from government services.

Menendez-March said he wants to unpack why the generational term is seen as offensive. He said he was appalled by people describing boomer as ‘the B word’.

“To imply it is a slur is to tie it with other words that are rooted in systemic oppression and violence.”

"Boomer" is short for baby boomer, the term used for the generation born between 1946 and 1964. That generation is now aged between 56 and 74.

Minister for Seniors Ayesha Verrall does not think it's helpful to describe older people as "boomers".

When asked about Menendez-March's comment, Verrall said MPs were responsible for their own statements.

She wouldn't say if she would use the phrase, but added "the important thing is to be respectful for all the people in our community".

Verrall was asked by reporters if seniors are hard done by.

"When you look at the situation of individuals within any wider group you'll find people who need to be worthy of compassion and that's the way we should make sure we see all the people in our community," Verrall said.

with text by Katie Scotcher, of RNZ