The power of speaking up

July 6th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

National MP Maggie Barry says more than a dozen New Zealand women have approached her to say they were also indecently assaulted by disgraced entertainer Rolf Harris — and one is considering an official complaint to police after decades of silence.

Ms Barry revealed yesterday that she was groped by Harris in a Palmerston North recording studio when she was working as a journalist.

This is the great thing about being brave enough to reveal what someone like Harris did to you. Suddenly everyone else who has had it happen to them, doesn’t feel quite so alone. It’s great that they now have someone they can share their stories with – of course would be greater if this had never happened. If a dozen have contacted Maggie Barry, how many scores more may be out there?

Former TVNZ makeup artist Lee Howden told RadioLIVE she was also sexually assaulted as she did his make-up for an on-air interview. She said she fled the room after he put his hand into her underwear.

While she never reported the incident, she was inspired to come forward after hearing Ms Barry’s account and was prepared to make an official police complaint.

Good.

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Stopping the double dippers

March 4th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

MP Maggie Barry is labelling a Shore politician’s claims she is trying to remove him from office as “ridiculous”.

But Devonport-Takapuna Local Board member Grant Gillon says it’s no conspiracy theory.

Ms Barry, National MP for North Shore, had her bill to stop people serving on two or more Auckland local boards drawn from the member’s bill ballot.

Very sensible. You can’t be the MP for Wellington Central and say the MP for Mana. Your job is to represent one locality.

Among the few politicians this would affect is Mr Gillon who serves on both Devonport-Takapuna and Kaipatiki local boards.

Mr Gillon believes it’s motivated by his support for stopping housing at Bayswater Marina and opposition to closing Takapuna Beach Holiday Park to make way for a national sailing centre.

“There can be no other reason why the local MP considers removing me from office as the most important issue for the North Shore in an election year.”

He says the bill is poorly drafted and will force at least six costly by-elections across Auckland.

There is an SOP with the bill to clarify it is not retrospective. There will be no by-elections. The issue is whether politicians such as Gillon should be allowed to serve on two or more local boards concurrently.

Ms Barry says double dipping opens up the “real potential for conflicts of interest”.

“This has allowed local board power to be concentrated in the hands of a few people, many of whom don’t even live in the area they represent.”

The idea of local boards is that they are, well local.

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Will Rudman apologise?

July 3rd, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald is not having a good week. Not only do they run a sob story from a Green Party candidate, without revealing his affiliation – they also had Brian Rudman got it entirely wrong regarding Maggie Barry and the City Rail Link.

Rudman wrote on Monday:

I’m guessing that North Shore National MP Maggie Barry will have experienced a true “Oh bugger” moment when she first heard of her leader’s shock u-turn in favour of building the Auckland City rail link.

In her shoes, who wouldn’t have? Contemplating your own demise has a way of concentrating the mind.

I bet she’s wishing she’d observed the advice of a long-time National PM, Sir Keith Holyoake, who advised new MPs to breathe through their noses for their first term. In other words, the way to avoid terminal embarrassment is to keep your lips zipped until you learn the rules.

But in the sweet euphoria of post election victory, back in November 2011, playing dumb was the last thing on Ms Barry’s mind. She told her local paper to pass on the message to Auckland Mayor Len Brown that there would be a CBD rail link before a new harbour crossing “over our dead bodies”.

The only problem for Rudman is Barry was speaking about a rail link between the airport and the CBD, not the City Rail Link – which is an entirely different project.

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This follow up story in the North Shore Times makes it clear Maggie was referring to the airport-CBD rail project. With regards to the CBD rail loop, she said:

Basically I support the City Rail Link, but only if the business case ultimately stacks up.

Now it is possible Rudman never saw the follow up story. I guess too much too hope for that he would check. But will he now do a retraction with the same prominence as his original column, or will there be some grudging clarification which no one will see?

Maggie commented on Facebook:

During the 30 years I was a Radio and television news presenter and as a senior feature writer for the Listener, I never really expected the same rigorous standards of fact checking from populist columnists as I did from professional journalists. Some columnists are the print mediums version of shock jocks who opine and shamelessly push their own politically biased agendas and don’t much like the facts to get in the way of their stance. Mondays column wasn’t an example of Brian’s finest work but maybe when you’ve been in the job for a long time you think you can get away with tossing off any old purple prose to fill your word allocation. While Brian no doubt had a lovely time dreaming up punishments for a crime I didn’t commit, I take the future vision of Auckland’s transport more seriously than that and judging from the universally positive feedback to the PM’s announcement from my constituents, so does the North Shore electorate. No dead bodies on my side of the political divide Brian.

The decent thing for the Herald to do would be to give Maggie a full right of reply, with the same prominence as Rudman’s article. But many media hate admitting they got it wrong, so I won’t hold my breath.

Does anyone who gets the print edition of the Herald know if they have done a follow up on the Max Coyle story, informing people he is a Green candidate? And there was their housing story that featured the Labour Party vice-president who posed as a house buyer and just happened to say all her problems would be fixed by Labour’s policies. Never saw any follow up to that one either. No wonder fewer people trust the media.

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Audrey on Maggie

January 12th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Audrey Young interviews North Shore MP Maggie Barry. Some extracts:

What’s been the most rewarding part of the past year?

My big highlight was Taharoto, the mental health facility. From probably about my first month in the job I got complaints from my constituents about this dreadful acute psychiatric facility in the North Shore Hospital grounds. It’s a converted maternity hospital and is absolutely vile, deeply awful and I went and had a look and I was shocked by what I saw. I’ve been lobbying and talking to (Health Minister) Tony Ryall and Lester Levy at Waitemata DHB and when Tony was out of the country he let me announce that we are putting in $25 million and we are completely rebuilding the facility.

Most electorate MPs will cite something they have done for their electorate as the best part of the job.

What’s the most frustrating thing about working in Parliament?

I guess some of the posturing. The obfuscation that goes on, the crap that gets talked in the House, the faux outrage has been so extreme it’s almost amusing, and the fake gravitas as well is one of my other favourites.

Both Labour and the Greens had talked to me at different times about joining their ranks over the 30 years I had been (in the media). There was a certain amount of “you’re toast, we’re going to get you” in the corridor. I sustained quite a few insults in the first couple of months – “get back to the garden where you belong”. A couple of grumpy old trouts came out with that stuff.

My son is 14 and he said to me a while ago, “What do you do about bullying?” I said, “You’ve got to face them down”. And that’s what I’ve decided to do with bullies in Parliament, the bully boys in the Opposition and the more passive aggressives in the Greens and New Zealand First.

When it comes to the dark arts of politics, one piece of advice I received and that I took was that if someone hits you, you hit them back twice as hard. I’ve done that in my first year. I think people have got the message that I’m not going to be bullied and pushed around so hopefully (in 2013) I can relax a bit from that stance.

You’re very combative.

I think if you don’t do it you’re dog tucker, frankly. I’ve looked at others who are heckled, nasty things – “bottle-blonde”, “big slob”, “fat girl” – really low-grade, low-rent. Never going to make it into Hansard, not going to be heard from the gallery but it’s there and undermines people’s confidence. It was a bold call to answer them back.

Maggie has indeed shown she is no victim.

Are you talking about Jacinda Ardern (whom Barry pointed out, in the Paid Parental Leave Bill debate, didn’t have children)?

Oh, “precious petal” is a bit different. (When Labour MPs called her comments outrageous, Barry told Ardern; “Don’t be precious, Petal”.) Frankly, I was sick of people shouting across the House at me, “You’ve dumped your son at boarding school”, “All Nats are bad mothers” and Jacinda did her “National Party women love coal more than they love kids”. I thought: “Actually, how many kids do you have? What do you understand about the reality of juggling it all while you are in the House?” So then Trevor (Mallard) does his mad tweet (demanding an apology) with the faux outrage and gravitas, which is all nonsense. If I thought Jacinda had been in the foetal position, weeping, I would have acknowledged that. But when she says it’s no big deal and Trevor wants me to apologise, guess what the outcome is likely to be?

Not hard to guess.

Name one of your heroes outside politics.

Ed Hillary. I did the last interview of him for the Listener. He was somebody I had always admired as a kid. To do the final interview with him was an honour. I did six hours with him over two days for oral archives for Radio New Zealand and it ultimately ended up a 14-pager for the Listener, published posthumously. As it turned out, his health was such that even Mark Sainsbury couldn’t get an interview with him after that because of the nature of his decline. He’d been on the Garden Show many times talking about meconopsis, the blue poppies. Bless him, he hardly knew a rhododendron from a poppy but he knew what he liked.

He was the quintessential Kiwi – very self-effacing, which is why I did the thing for the oral archives because there was very little (on record) about his trip up the Ganges. (And) there was very little on record about that final ascent. “What happened Ed, when you got to that point (now) known as the Hillary Step and Sherpa Tensing turned back as he had done four times before? What made you go on?” He spelt it all out and he spelt out why he didn’t come out with it at the time. It’s that old-fashioned sense of honour and we will not see his like again.

Very true. He was exceptional.

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Palliative Care and Euthanasia

August 17th, 2012 at 7:23 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

National Party MP Maggie Barry says the standard of healthcare for New Zealanders with terminal and chronic illnesses is so high euthanasia should not be considered as an alternative.

Ms Barry’s All Party Parliamentary Group on Palliative Care will meet for the first time today and aims to improve MPs’ understanding of the care available.

Palliative care focuses on relieving the suffering of patients with chronic or life-threatening illnesses.

Ms Barry was partly inspired to form the group after witnessing the high-quality care her parents received before their deaths.

Her father was diagnosed with cancer and stayed in Mary Potter Hospice until his death 15 years ago. “Mum and I were able to go up there and spend time with him. I had dreaded it but it was as good as it could have been.”

But her primary motivation is to oppose assisted suicide as an alternative for seriously ill patients.

I respect that people have a variety of views on whether or not it is desirable to allow euthanasia or assisted suicide. I also respect the wonderful work done by hospices such as Mary Potter.

However I believe it is wrong to frame the argument as a choice between palliative care and euthanasia. It is not. Euthanasia is not just about people dying of cancer. It is also about people who have degenerative conditions such as Huntington’s disease.

Rodney Hide told the story of Martin Hames, who effectively committed suicide while he still could, because one day he would have been unable to do so. A euthanasia law would have allowed Martin to continue to enjoy many more years of life, if he was confident that once hie body and mind had degenerated, his previous wishes could be legally implemented.

Huntington’s disease is an awful infliction. Around 35% of those who have Huntington’s disease try to kill themselves.

So palliative care is not an alternative to euthanasia in all cases. And where it is an alternative – it should be a choice for the dying person. I do not think it is the role of the state to tell people they can not end their lives if they are in agony. The role of the state should be to put in place rigorous safeguards around those decisions.

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Maggie Barry standing orders

July 27th, 2012 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

After Maggie Barry suggested during the paid parental debate that Labour MPs without children aren’t that well qualified to talk on the issue of paid parental leave, Twitter had a hash tag of #maggiebarrystandingorders. Pete George has some of the better ones:

  • Happy birthday @jacindaardern! Although it’s not MY birthday so I really shouldn’t comment…
  • only Maggie Barry may cite #maggiebarrystandingorders in the house
  • You can only talk about asset sales if you have three TradeMe stars or more.
  • Maggie Barry seems quite happy to talk about euthanasia. Maybe it’s a cry for help
  • Only MPs named Sarah can talk about CERA
  • MPs wanting to talk about taser will have to have been tased.
  • Maggie, I have 2 children so can talk about Paid Parental Leave twice as much.
  • No more references to Willie Apiata by MPs who haven’t rescued comrades under enemy fire
  • We can’t talk about #maggiebarrystandingorders because we’re not Maggie Barry
  • MPs wanting to talk about taser will have to have been tased.
  • You can’t make decisions about New Zealand unless you’ve never left the country.
  • No-one in National or ACT can talk about public transport
  • Under #maggiebarrystandingorders only Peter Dunne can speak on planking.
  • @DavidClarkNZ must be on the minimum wage to put forward a minimum wage bill
  • Louisa Wall must get married wage to put forward a marriage bill

All quite funny. I would point out though that I am a regular public transport user, unlike a certain former Green MP who didn’t even have a snapper card despite decades of going on about the importance of public transport in Wellington!

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Maggie Barry MP

May 11th, 2011 at 10:30 pm by David Farrar

Congratulations to Maggie Barry, who won National’s nomination for North Shore tonight – it was a first ballot victory.

North Shore has a 14,574 majority, so it is almost inevitable that Maggie Barry will be an MP after the election.

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The Botany Five

January 20th, 2011 at 7:29 pm by David Farrar

National has annoucned the five short-listed candidates for Botany. In alphabetical order they are:

  • Maggie Barry
  • Aaron Bhatnagar
  • Darron Gedge
  • Jami-lee Ross
  • Edward Saafi

I picked four of the five correctly. I thought Denise Krum would make it also. Edward Saafi I had not profiled previously – his local body election profile is here. Dr Saafi has a PhD and MBA, working as a biomedical health research scientist. Seems a very solid candidate. However he appears to have stood for the Destiny Party in 2005 in Mangere, so I think fair to say not my first choice.

Selection is on Thursday 27 January.

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