Thursday, July 30, 2009

More bullying

Hot on the heels of Paula Bennett's ugly information thuggery, we have more bullying - this time from ACT's David Garrett. At a hearing of the Law and Order Committee yesterday on the government's private prisons bill, Garrett explicitly threatened a group of prison officers opposing the bill with retribution in the employment market:

After Bart Birch, Uaea Leavasa and Satish Prasad criticised how Auckland Central Remand Prison was run under private contractor GEO between 2000 and 2005, Mr Garrett weighed in.

"You say that you don't want to go back to working in this environment - to the private [sector]. You'd be aware that given your submission here, you wouldn't get offered a job anyway, would you?"

To their credit, other MPs were appalled by this - perhaps because they understand that such future victimisation would interfere with the right of the public to give evidence before committees and so constitute contempt of Parliament under Standing Order 401(w). To the extent that he has intimidated other witnesses from speaking, Garrett himself may have committed a contempt under Standing order 401(t). But none of that seems to matter to him - incredibly, he claims not to have been interfering with free debate at all.

Some on the right (e.g. the sewer) seem to take positive delight in this sort of bullying and thuggery. But there should be no place for it in our political system. And those MPs and parties who support it need to be driven out.