Tuesday, September 14, 2004

What upset Gerry?

Metiria Turei reports that Gerry "Bruiser" Brownlee lost his cool a little in Friday's select committee hearing into the Foreshore & Seabed Bill:

The best today, I thought, were the guys from Feilding, Trustees of Poutapatate Marae. They gave thier submission almost entirely in the Reo, the first so far. And somehow,perhaps by being typical "provocatively reasonable" Maori they managed to ruffle the feathers of Gerry Brownlee. Gerry got into another huff (he's awfully sensitive y'know) and was so overcome that he just had to exclaim" Whadaya doing here then! and "Go away!" And these guys had travelled from Feilding to Wellington to make thier submission.

Having read their submission [PDF], I can't understand what Brownlee was upset about. They weren't making the sorts of wild claims seen from some Maori groups - they weren't claiming outer space or the seabed "all the way to Hawaikii", they weren't rejecting the sovereignty of the crown, and they weren't threatening civil war. Just calmly pointing out that the bill would extinguish common law property rights, denied due process of law, and was a contemporary breach of the Treaty which would almost certainly result in future claims. Maybe their oral submission was different. Maybe they went so far as to say that what the government was proposing was perfectly legal, but neither moral nor wise. But if it was anything like their written submission, there's nothing here deserving of abuse from a committee member.

It's also quite disturbing to read about an MP using his position of power to abuse people who have made a submission on legislation. You'd almost think he didn't want public participation or something...