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Ghahraman claims could be region’s gain

It’s been reported that Green MP Golriz Ghahraman has been accused of shoplifting.

The alleged incident was first flagged by Newstalk ZB on Wednesday, and further details emerged yesterday.

Reportedly, a visit by the MP to a boutique Auckland clothing store two days before Christmas is at the centre of the claims.

While police have confirmed they’re making inquiries into a report of alleged shoplifting at Scotties Boutique on Blake Street in Ponsonby on December 23, they’ve declined to provide further details.

Ghahraman – who first entered Parliament on the Green list in 2017 – and her party are being tight-lipped about the allegation, but have said she has “stood aside” from her plethora of spokesperson portfolios [defence, democracy and electoral system, ethnic communities, foreign affairs, human rights, justice, refugees, trade, and women] “until the matter is resolved”.

The reaction of New Zealand political Twitter [sorry, Elon Musk, while your rebranding of the social media site to ‘X’ is understandable, it’s really not sticking] did not disappoint.

Ghahraman – who came to New Zealand as a refugee as a child, after her family fled Iran in 1990 – appears to be something of a polarising figure for local political tragics; venerated by many on ‘the left’, she’s the target of derision from more than a few on the right.

Thus, one X user on the ‘progressive’ side of the aisle has, for instance, mused that it’s quite likely the story is an example of dirty tricks by Israeli intelligence outfit Mossad due to the MP’s emphatic support of the Palestinian cause, while the accusation has been cause for more than a little schadenfreude from those of a ‘conservative’ bent [one of the least meanspirited contributions being a photo of Ghahraman holding a digitally manipulated sign saying “From the river to the sea, all handbags shall be free”].

It should go without saying that Ghahraman – like all citizens in a [relatively] free and [more or less] democratic society – is entitled to the presumption of innocence. As with any such allegation, it’s up to the state to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

As for those who are taking obvious glee in the unfortunate situation, possibly a late New Year resolution to work on ensuring their empathy isn’t overwhelmed by their ideological preferences might be in order.

The reason this potential scandal is of interest to the Times-Age, however, is it raises the tantalising possibility of Wairarapa having three MPs residing in the region this parliamentary term, because – should the allegations against Ghahraman prove to be true – Celia Wade-Brown, who stood for the Greens here at last year’s election, is the next cab off the rank on the party list and would fill the seat a resignation would free up.

Although it seems certain Wade-Brown wouldn’t relish getting the job in such sorry circumstances, if she should join the region’s elected MP Mike Butterick and Labour list MP Kieran McAnulty in Parliament, surely this would provide them with the opportunity to find common cause on issues that affect the region [McAnulty has certainly promised to work with Butterick in this way when appropriate].

If our two current MPs – and our possible third – aren’t sure of what issues they could unite on, despite their ideological differences, turning to the Thought of The Day on page 12 will give them one idea to start with.

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