New Speaker’s first decision too ‘political’
Maryan Street | Monday, February 11, 2013 - 09:44
Labour is calling on the Speaker to reconsider his decision to prevent West Papuan activist Benny Wenda from speaking at Parliament because the New Zealand Government and its officials are uncomfortable about it.
“Benny Wenda has been the guest of the UK Parliament, the EU Parliament and the United Nations but our Speaker has ruled he cannot speak here at the New Zealand Parliament unless he is hosted by a political party in their own caucus room,” said Labour MP and Associate Foreign Affairs spokesperson Maryan Street.
“The Speaker’s office took advice on this issue from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and was told it was not appropriate for Benny Wenda to be hosted within Parliament unless his visit was owned by a political party which would host the event in their own area, where they could be as 'political' as they liked.
"But Parliament is not the Government. Parliament consists of government and opposition, and the government's sensitivities should not dictate who can air their views at Parliament and who cannot. It is the place where a range of views should be heard.
“As one of the MPs hosting Benny Wenda’s visit, I want the guidelines surrounding meetings held at Parliament to be revisited by the new Speaker. Such decisions should be made on the basis of principle, not on the basis of whether or not the Government feels uncomfortable about it," said Maryan Street.