Kieran McAnulty said the levels of abuse inflicted on politicians were unjustified. Photo/NZME
Alleged death threats prompted Wairarapa MP Kieran McAnulty to stop “advertising” mobile offices to the electorate.
McAnulty, the minister for emergency management and errands, clarified a report suggesting continued threats had caused him to abandon the practice of setting up mobile offices.
Local MPs have a long-established protocol of public street corner meetings with constituents or setting up offices in public spaces, where the public can meet them and discuss local issues.
This is particularly important for MPs with larger, more rural constituencies – Wairarapa’s constituency extends north into central Hawke’s Bay towns.
Advertise with NZME.
“Working on the basis that I have received several death threats, Parliamentary Security has informed me that I cannot operate my mobile office as I have done in the past for my safety and that of my staff” , McAnulty told Hawke’s Bay. Today via press release.
“I can no longer announce in advance where I will hold my mobile offices, which is really disappointing because it means fewer people can come and therefore I cannot serve my constituents as I wish.
“I am really disgusted with the situation because my mobile office was the first of its kind. I take my job as a local MP very seriously and it was an innovative way to serve a very large and diverse constituency. This kind of behavior comes from a small group of people, but it affects our whole democracy and must be exposed. »
McAnulty earlier told Central FM that political debate was healthy, but the levels of abuse meted out to politicians were unjustified.
Advertise with NZME.
The subject of abuse against politicians has come to light since Jacinda Ardern announced her resignation as Prime Minister in Napier a week ago.
Ardern said the online abuse had an impact on her but was “not the basis of my decision” to quit.
This Ardern farewell underscored the level of vitriol aimed at the former prime minister and his family. Researchers from the University of Auckland found that Ardern faced threats far beyond that country’s other politicians and public figures.
Security experts have suggested she will continue to need police protection now that she is no longer in office.
Napier MP Stuart Nash told Hawke’s Bay Today he himself had received no death threats and felt the political discourse was still relatively friendly.
Nash said he looked forward to resuming his street corner meetings with his constituents in February.
“In my experience, even those who oppose your policy or policies are reasonably respectful,” Nash said.