Thursday, April 02, 2009

ACT of a loser

It should be pretty obvious that despite recently praising the ACT Party’s leader, I generally can’t stand the party. They continue to push the failed and discredited 1980s politics of Reagan/Thatcher/Douglas/Richardson, condemning everything that gets in the way of unfettered profit.

During the previous Labour-led Government, there was probably no fiercer critic of the government than ACT, even more so than the official Opposition, the National Party. The party leader, Rodney Hide, was nearly relentless in his criticism of then-Prime Minister Helen Clark. All of which is politics and commonplace.

Once an election is over, and especially after a change of government, the need for such relentless partisan attack-dog politics subsides (apart from blaming every single problem you face on the previous government, something every government does). Another convention is that when a Member of Parliament leaves, especially a former Prime Minister, and especially for a prestigious international diplomatic position, parliamentarians send them off graciously.

One ACT Party MP apparently doesn’t know how to be gracious.

Yesterday, every party in parliament rose to congratulate former Prime Minister Helen Clark on her appointment as Director of the United Nations Development Programme. Every single Member of Parliament, regardless of party, rose to give her a standing ovation—every member, bar one.

ACT Party MP David Garrett refused to stand. Radio news Newstalk ZB reported that “he does not have a lot of time for Helen Clark and what she stands for” so he remained seated, claiming that to do otherwise would have been “hypocritical”. Today, Newstalk ZB reported “Mr Garrett says that would have been a gesture of respect, which he does not have.”

In a situation like that, one is acknowledging the achievement of a fellow Parliamentarian. There’s a long tradition of bipartisan support for Members of Parliament who seek positions in international organisations. All sides recognise that when a Kiwi does well on the world stage, it reflects well on New Zealand.

So what are we to make of Garrett’s behaviour? In my view, it was a beginner MP being churlish and childish. I can guarantee that some of the MPs who stood didn’t respect Helen Clark or Labour, and some, like Garret, have openly expressed their contempt. But, unlike Garrett, they recognise that there are bigger things than petty personal feelings.

With the possible exception of Rodney Hide and his deputy, Heather Roy, the entire ACT Caucus is made up of lightweights and morons, people who aren’t fit to be in Parliament (yes, I include Roger “way past his use-by-date” Douglas in that). Garret’s contemptible behaviour clearly demonstrates that. If Hide is any kind of leader, he’ll give Garrett a strongly worded telling off for bringing ACT and, by extension, all Members of Parliament, into disrepute. If Garrett doesn’t have the decency to be ashamed of his actions, then ACT must be ashamed for him.

No comments: