An open letter to Chris Finlayson

Dear Minister Finlayson,

On 13 June 2013, during Oral Question 5 to your colleague Paula Bennett, you heckled the Labour party. This isn’t new, nor is heckling particularly reproachable in principle given the nature of robust debate Parliament. What I did find reproachable, as well as shocking, was what you chose to yell.

While Minister Bennett detailed your Party’s on-going support for the resolution of historic abuse claims regarding state care, you sat next to her with your eyes closed for the majority of her answer. As she finished, and while her microphone was still on, Parliament TV recorded you yelling to Labour members across the house:

“What about the Darren Hughes case?”

And what about the Darren Hughes case, indeed? How does the alleged sexual misconduct by a former MP, relate to the Government dealing with historic institutional abuse and achieving the best outcomes for survivors?

Regardless of what happened with Darren Hughes and his alleged victim, using reparations for some of the worst abuses of power to vulnerable children as a platform to make a jibe at the Labour party should be beneath you.

Any survivors of historic abuse watching the Minister’s update will have heard you using their struggles as fodder for a mean-spirited political dig.

The alleged victim of Darren Hughes or any of his friends or family watching will have heard you using something which upset a young person so much they went to the police, as a way to insult your opposition.

I realise nastiness and name calling is hardly new in Question Time (or politics in general), but I would have thought stories of Government assistance for survivors healing from a childhood of violation and hurt would be something off limits for a nasty joke.

In future, please remember that sexual violence is not a political football. Please respect people’s stories and find something else to yell about.



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