Sense from Goff

June 22nd, 2010 at 2:59 pm by David Farrar

Some common sense from Phil Goff on the protest issue:

Labour leader said there mistakes on both sides.

“The Chinese security guard had no right to seize the flag from . There is an absolute right of peaceful protest in this country that we must uphold.”

And I agree. They had a right to stop Norman from advancing any closer, but they had no right to try and hide his flag. They were clearly wrong to do so.

But Mr Goff said Dr Norman could have acted with more restraint.

“Did Russel Norman behave with the dignity you might have expected of an MP? I think he might have learned from (former Greens leader) Rod Donald’s lesson of standing back, giving a bit of space, making the point, but not being confrontational.”

Exactly. He was advancing on the Vice-President and got very very close to him. If he had done what Rod Donald did, then the fracas would never have happened. The suspicion is that maybe he did it deliberately.

Mr Goff said there needed to be a clear protocol allowing peaceful protest but at the same time giving space and dignity to visitors.

Yep. If MPs wish to protest on the forecourt they have every right to. But they don’t have the right to impede the right of overseas leaders from entering buildings, or to be so close to them they represent a threat to their dignity (such as having a flag thrown over them) – NZ in fact has an obligation under Article 29 of the Vienna Convention:

The person of a diplomatic agent shall be inviolable. He shall not be liable to any form of arrest or detention. The receiving State shall treat him with due respect and shall take all appropriate steps to prevent any attack on his person, freedom or dignity.

This is why John Key apologised – not for the protest by Norman, but the failure in security that allowed him to get within spitting or throwing distance.

He said there was some confusion which could have been avoided on Friday.

“A quiet word beforehand between Russel Norman and the diplomatic police could have set a situation where a protest could have been made without the incident occurring.”

Exactly. Bravo to Phil Goff for taking a fair approach on this.

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19 Responses to “Sense from Goff”

  1. Michaels (1,318 comments) says:

    I still say expel him. He is an MP for gods sake and should not have been doing what he was where he was.
    He should have been with the others.
    But then to cry like a losing baby…. “give me my flag back, give me my flag back, give me my flag back”, just made him sound like a bigger tosser than he really is.

    (not to personal I hope)

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  2. Inventory2 (10,246 comments) says:

    I’m sure that there will be regular interjections of Gimme my flag back whenever Russel Norman speaks in the House from now on. That will serve as a timely reminder to his grandstanding …

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  3. davidp (3,570 comments) says:

    If a person sees Norman in the street, is it acceptable to lunge at him while shouting and waving an object randomly? If he pushes you away then do you have the right to moan in a high pitched voice, then complain to the police that you were assaulted? He can hardly complain if people want to exercise their Green-given right of “peaceful” protest by rushing him.

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  4. Danyl Mclauchlan (1,066 comments) says:

    He was advancing on the Vice-President and got very very close to him.

    You’ve said this several times and might even believe it, but that’s not what happens in any of the video footage. Norman is standing there waving his flag and a guy runs up and opens an umbrella in front of him. Norman tries to step in front of the umbrella and one security guy grabs him and another one takes away his flag.

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  5. Sonny Blount (1,848 comments) says:

    Why is the guy not allowed to open his umbrella. He has as much right as Norman to wave his flag.

    Your full of it Danyl, Russel was clearly interjecting himself in peoples way deliberately seeking a reaction which he hardly got really.

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  6. Monty (974 comments) says:

    Of course Comrade Wussell wanted to make a scene with his whining and wimpy 13 year old voice. I wish our DPS had well and truely decked this sad little irritant.

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  7. davidp (3,570 comments) says:

    Danyl>but that’s not what happens in any of the video footage

    The video footage I saw clearly showed:

    1. Norman standing at the back of a small group, calling out and waving his flag.
    2. A Chinese man (probably security) standing in front of him without contact.
    3. Norman elbowing the man out of the way and rushing towards the front of the group. Norman should have been arrested and charged with assault at this stage, IMHO.
    4. Another Chinese man trying to use an umbrella to hide the flag.
    5. Norman dodging around the umbrella and running further forward.
    6. Norman reaching forwards over the heads of two Chinese men standing in front of him, waving his flag in such a way as to make contact with them.
    7. A scuffle of some sort where the camera focuses elsewhere briefly.
    8. Norman assaulting the men standing in front of him while he tries to advance further towards the Chinese VP. The assaults include grabbing one man and trying to pull him to one side while Norman squeezes between the two.

    Claiming one thing happened while people can watch a video of the complete opposite thing actually happen is usually a losing debate tactic.

    http://tvnz.co.nz/politics-news/one-news-extra-russell-norman-s-scuffle-parliament-1-23-video-3596061

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  8. ben (2,418 comments) says:

    That video is hilarious. God Norman is pathetic.

    First Norman telling another bloke not stand in front of him. Who does he think he is?

    Then the undignified scuffle.

    And then in that sheep-like voice of his “Give me my flag back”.

    I agree with Inventory: That line is going to haunt Russell for the rest of his political life.

    And the gall of a Greens leader lecturing anybody about respecting human rights. Kids can’t get a pie under the Greens but, sure, they respect the individual.

    Politicians really is the most unimaginably dishonest profession.

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  9. william blake (109 comments) says:

    If Russel Norman had done this is China he would be arrested and imprisoned possibly executed in spite of his whiny voice and high minded ideas and his stupidity in doing this at all.

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  10. Patrick Starr (3,675 comments) says:

    Do I finally agree on something with Russel Norman? He gave an interesting defence to his outrageous behaviour to the chinese diplomats by saying to Larry Williams this evening;

    “why should any dignity or respect be shown to murderers !!”

    …..suppose the melons will now be supporters of 3 strikes

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  11. Inventory2 (10,246 comments) says:

    Before Russel says anything more about suppression of free speech in China, he should explain:

    1) why the Greens voted for the Electoral Finance Bill in 2007, and
    2) why the Greens were the only party not to vote for the repeal of the Electoral Finance Act last year

    He may remember that the EFB was described by the Human Rights Commission as representing “a dramatic assault on two fundamental human rights that New Zealanders cherish, freedom of expression and the right of informed citizens to participate in the election process”.

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  12. pq (728 comments) says:

    Farrar quotes Goff:

    “The Chinese security guard had no right to seize the flag from Russel Norman. There is an absolute right of peaceful protest in this country that we must uphold.”

    but from there Farrar’s comments are irrelevant .
    see video

    http://tvnz.co.nz/politics-news/one-news-extra-russell-norman-s-scuffle-parliament-1-23-video-3596061

    Over at Bowalley Road the only response poor old Chris Trottersky could come up with
    was a sickening eulogy for Rod Donald .

    This is our Country Farrar, we own New Zealand, you weakling Nats suck.

    peterquixote .

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  13. shady (251 comments) says:

    I was in the car and happened to catch TV3 news on this subject on Radio Live and couldn’t help but laugh when I heard his protests. He sounded like Rhys Darby! Could have sworn it was a skit from Flight of the Conchords taking the piss!!!

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  14. bka (135 comments) says:

    We know from the past, particularly events in 1999 where the NZ police helped them out with obscuring buses, protest-drowning sirens and flag confiscations, that the Chinese response to protest is to render it invisible to the dignitary, especially Tibetan flags. Norman’s movements were all about trying to make sure that he was seen by the VP, and he was playing up to their custom. There was no need for the Chinese security to cooperate with him of course.
    The concern about having a chat with diplomatic police beforehand or some rules for MPs is that there would be a 1999 rehash – protest is fine as long as you cannot be seen or heard by the people you are protesting against, and the rules and officials make sure that that is the case.

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  15. reid (16,174 comments) says:

    Norman’s movements were all about trying to make sure that he was seen by the VP, and he was playing up to their custom. There was no need for the Chinese security to cooperate with him of course.

    Gah.

    The concern about having a chat with diplomatic police beforehand or some rules for MPs is that there would be a 1999 rehash – protest is fine as long as you cannot be seen or heard by the people you are protesting against, and the rules and officials make sure that that is the case.

    I see. Thanks for the considerable light-shedding job, bka. Do come again soon.

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  16. niggly (813 comments) says:

    That bloody Mr Norman!

    Just when Ginga’s all around NZ finally got over “Hug a Ginga Day”, felt safe to step outside again (apart from those fruity Ginga’s that embrace, well like embracing anyone willing to give it a go etc), and get on with normal life again …

    That bloody Mr Norman goes and ruins it for Ginga’s again, they are now in the news, they notice Chinese international students looking at them a bit weary and self-defensive like …

    Now Ginga’s are being mocked by whinny voiced non-ginga’s taking the p*** …

    That bloody Mr Norman!

    Someone send him to spend a break from Parliament with the likes of Darren Hughes, they can discuss more important things like the fine points of being an awesome handbag accessory (gets you into cool movie launches etc) rather than being an angry agro protesting Ginga stero-type, somehow it just doesn’t look right!

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  17. Murray (8,843 comments) says:

    Noman blew it trying to be Rod Donald V2.0.

    I have zero sympathy for the Chinese bully boys who just out of interest refused to cooperate with the investigation. Their absolute right, and our our absolute right right to tell them not to come back as well.

    Rof had dignity and integrity. Noman is in now way shpe or form his sucessor and the Chinese crapping all over our culture and laws does nothing to change that. Two wrongs don’t make a Rod.

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  18. Graeme Edgeler (3,279 comments) says:

    NZ in fact has an obligation under Article 29 of the Vienna Convention:

    The person of a diplomatic agent shall be inviolable. He shall not be liable to any form of arrest or detention. The receiving State shall treat him with due respect and shall take all appropriate steps to prevent any attack on his person, freedom or dignity.

    The Vice-President of China does not fall within the definition of “diplomatic agent” under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. Try again.

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  19. Murray (8,843 comments) says:

    Nor do the Chinese protection squad who get to manhandle our politicans in our parlimiament shortly after hell freezes over.

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