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When abuse or violence isn’t the solution

Wairarapa MP Kieran McAnulty’s staff were reportedly harassed, and his office was vandalised during last week’s Groundswell protest.

This behaviour is not representative of our farming community, but one bad egg can make a whole lot of difference for a community and a movement.

Before I begin, it should be noted that Voices For Freedom were also protesting on Thursday.

They said they were protesting in support of Groundswell.

Groundswell’s ‘We’re Not Going To Take It’ protest was a direct response to the Government’s proposed farm emissions pricing following the Primary Sector Climate Action Partnership [He Waka Eke Noa] process.

Groundswell organisers said on their website that they wanted “no emissions tax on food production”.

“The government must stop proposed emissions tax and undo legislation putting agriculture into the emissions trading scheme [ETS].”

They said the nation was already the most sustainable food producer in the world, as verified by independent research.

“This emissions tax on food production will lead to food scarcity, higher food prices, and more land going into pine trees. This will lead to poor outcomes for rural communities and rural businesses – the Government acknowledges this in their document.”

Its code of conduct, listed directly under its announcement for the protest said:

“We kindly ask participants to follow these rules:

– Make sure any signage you bring is on point and on message. We have options available here to download and print,

– Respect private property,

– Respect and be courteous of other road users,

– Pull right over to make way for any emergency vehicles.”

Unfortunately, an individual did not respect private property, tainting the efforts of everyone else,

It is one thing to disagree with the government, but it’s another to abuse people in their workplace and vandalise private property.

Anger is not an excuse to put other people in danger, we saw this at the Parliament occupation where students were put at risk trying to go to school. We don’t need to see this again here.

In February, Labour MP for Otaki Terisa Ngobi had her office vandalised with anti-mandate messages.

“My staff work really hard in supporting the people of the Otaki electorate and shouldn’t feel violated when walking into their place of work,” Ngobi wrote in a social media post.

“I care about my staff, their mental health and safety. To those who keep threatening and defacing our property with vile messages – leave my staff and the residents of Paraparaumu who don’t want to see this, alone!”

A Government spokesperson said the right to protest should always be protected, but the damage and intimidation went too far.

In January, British Conservative MP Peter Bone’s constituency office was been vandalised for a second time amid anger over the Downing St parties scandal.

Bone’s office was first vandalised in November 2021.

People’s mentalities seem to be shifting towards extremism and violence in response to a rapidly changing world.

There is a lot for us to face in the coming years — some related to an upwelling of climate-related problems, others to social changes.

Either way, change is scary but resisting it will only make matters worse. Acting in violence is not the answer.

Grace Prior
Grace Prior
Grace Prior is a senior reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age with a keen interest in environmental issues. Grace is the paper’s health reporter and regularly covers the rural sector, weather, Greater Wellington Regional Council, and coastal stories.

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