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Mike's Minute: How democracy can thrive

Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Thu, 9 Nov 2023, 10:04AM

Mike's Minute: How democracy can thrive

Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Thu, 9 Nov 2023, 10:04AM

I think part of the comfort we should take around the so-called "rabid outbreak" of free speech this week is that words don’t automatically lead to anything.

You've got your two prime examples: Chloe Swarbrick and her outburst on Palestine, and Willie Jackson and his outburst on a potential vote over the Treaty. 

The difference is one has an implied threat and the other doesn’t. Swarbrick should never have said what she said, it's inflammatory. 

You have a responsibility as an elected member of Parliament to try and be at least a little bit moderate. But the upset is about her comments specifically, not what might come out of them because little, if anything, will come out of them. 

You could argue she adds to the fear that Jews may be feeling right now. So yes, it's highly irresponsible and the fact she doesn’t apologise, or get it, makes it worse. But can I ask - what else do you expect? 

But with Willie, and might I add that Debbie Ngarewa-Packer of Maori Party and Marama Davidson of the Greens might have suggested something similar, they are talking action. 

"Civil disobedience five or ten times worse than the Springbok tour". Now, the trouble with that is that is a straight up-and-down threat. 

There is no disguising what that is. 

What we are actually talking about here is a vote, a referendum. A question for the people of this country as to how we deal with the Treaty. 

The Treaty has been interpreted in a way by the previous Government that many don’t like. You could actually argue their treatment of the Treaty may well lead to the sort of result they fear, if it ever got put to a vote. 

But that is the insidious thing, isn't it? It never got put to a vote. Things like He Puapua were secret, so have they dug their own grave. 

Could it be different if they had been more inclusive? Either way the threat is against democracy. They don’t like democracy. 

These are people to be feared. Not because they may hit the streets, but because they don’t want the rest of us to have a say and they hope before they hit the street they can scare us into submission. 

Democracy thrives in sunlight free speech and the exchange of ideas, not anger, bitterness and fear. 

But that is what they are selling. 

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