More than 40 protesters – including many Māori from Northland on the anti-asset sales hikoi– picketed near the Johnsonville offices of MP Peter Dunne today.
When we arrived at the first roundabout from SH1 into Johnsonville we could see a large group with colourful flags and banners lining the footpath past McDonalds, facing the electorate office of United Future MP Peter Dunne.
They told us they want Mr Dunne to use his ‘deciding vote’ in Parliament to defeat the Government’s asset sales leglislation.
The group, made up of Māori and Pakeha, handed out pamphlets, from ‘Peoples Power NZ,’ which state:
- ‘Hey Mr Dunne,WHAT ARE YOU DOING?
- ‘Stop supporting the Government selling off our power companies.
- 60% of voters opposed to power company sell off
- If sold, power prices will probably increase
- Privatisation of State assets makes them more open to foreign control
There was no sign of Mr Dunne, but a woman worker from the building housing his office was giving a young Māori protestrer, Shae Hartley, a hard time, telling her to go away.
Shae’s offence? — To kneel on the pavement and chalk a few messages to Mr Dunne, surely a harmless enough offence in a democracy when an MP isn’t present.
- Mana atua (spiritual authority)
- Manawhenua (territorial rights)
- Manatangata (authority derived from whakapapa)
The peaceful protest got plenty of toots of support from passing motorists – but flak from at least one passer-by we heard verbally abusing a pakeha woman demonstrator.
Tomorrow they move on to gather at Te Papa at noon for the ‘Aotearoa Not for Sale’ hikoi march to Parliament.
Mr Dunne’s reaction
Later, Mr Dunne told us by email that he hadn’t met the protesters and was not prepared to meet them at Parliament either.
Mr Dunne says:
“In a free society people have a right to protest.
“As far as this group is concerned, my only comment is that I cannot take seriously any group headed by Mike Smith.
“In addition, I would make the point that thanks to UnitedFuture’s confidence and supply agreement, negotiated with National after the election, statutory caps of 51% on the minimum of the Crown’s ownership and a maximum 10% cap on individual or entity holdings would be introduced for the relevant state owned enterprises.
“These agreements were consistent in every regard with our stated pre-election policy, and will be part of the legislation to be passed by Parliament in the next couple of months.
“Given that ensures the Crown will retain control of these entities now and into the future, their claim that I am ‘supporting the Government selling off our power companies’ is as ignorant as it is fatuous.”