We blogged a few weeks ago about Rotorua MP Todd McClay's Member's Bill which seeks to ban the wearing of gang insignia in government and local body buildings. Regular readers will know our low opinion of gangs, and will understand why we support Mr McClay's initiative.
Regular readers will also know that we don't have a lot of time for the grandstanding of Te Tai Tokerau MP Hone Harawira. And he is in fine, if somewhat predictable grandstanding form as Stuff reports:
A war of words has erupted over National MP Todd McClay's proposed gang patch ban, with Mana Party leader Hone Harawira labelling him a "foolish dickhead" promoting a "deeply racist" bill.Harawira has threatened to wear a gang patch into Parliament if the bill becomes law, a move McClay says casts doubts on Harawira's suitability to be an MP."The guy is such an idiot," Harawira said. "I'm not going to stand by and watch a blonde, blue-eyed redneck kick around poor people who, out of desperation, bond together because they see nothing in the blonde, blue-eyed society to give them a sense of hope for their own or their children's futures."Harawira said he was "not a great lover of gangs" but said McClay's pledge that government agencies would not deal with anyone wearing a patch, and that police would want to talk to them about criminal behaviour, was nonsense."The fact of the matter is that this foolish dickhead doesn't know what's going to happen. The police aren't interested in this. It's not going to be deep-blonde white-boy Todd that's going to be affected, it's going to be those working in the agencies."McClay's Prohibition of Gang Insignia in Government Premise bill has yet to pass its first reading in Parliament, but is expected to do so. If it became law, offenders could face a fine of up to $2000. Police would also have the right to confiscate and destroy patches and insignia.MPs vote in two weeks whether to send it to the select committee phase, and McClay says he has the numbers for that.
Hone Harawira is an effective headline-grabber, but that's about it. And he's incredibly quick ( and predicatbly so) to label people as racists.
Yes; Maori and Pasifika are well represented in gangs. But there are plenty of Pakeha as well, in gangs such as the Hell's Angels (who have a chapter in Wanganui), the Magogs (New Plymouth) and the Mothers (Palmerston North). All of those gangs wear patches.
So why is Hone Harawira not trying to improve the lot of the people who work in the public service, hospitals and local government? They are the ones who have to deal with the intimidation on a day-to-day basis, and they are the ones whose working environments will be much improved when gang members can't swagger around in their beloved patches. And after all, the Mana Party which Harawira leads purports to be pro-worker.
Instead Harawira launches a tirade of personal abuse against McClay, who now has a strong grasp on the Rotorua electorate. Harawira is intemperate and divisive, and outbursts like this simply demonstrate how puerile his behaviour is. His threat to wear a gang patch in Parliament is simply empty rhetoric; no gang of any standing (if gangs can have standing) lends out patches for publicity stunts.
Gangs have no place in a civilised society. The streets of Wanganui were markedly improved once a patch ban was instituted here, and even though it was subsequently overturned, the Wanganui District Council is working steadily on a replacement by-law that will comply with the High Court's decision. Todd McClay's Bill will have a very positive effect.