Full text of Press Release of the Parliament Protest 20 February 2022.
The combined groups representing a majority of those present in Parliament Grounds released a statement today saying they feel for the Police and their invidious position.
“The Police’s public messaging over the past few days could not be more clear. Other than some inconveniences the protest has caused, Police have confirmed protestors are not doing anything to warrant the use of force. They have also acknowledged that the protest is largely peaceful and that measures such as seizing vehicles run a high risk of people getting hurt.
“We are working with the Police in a mutually cooperative manner to ensure everyone’s safety and right to peaceful protest. This was particularly important over the past two days as numbers attending Parliament Grounds protest naturally swell over the weekend.
“It is vital that we maintain a respectful and open dialogue with the Police as we are all in unchartered territories. At all costs, we must avoid the situation at Parliament Grounds last week, which saw 122 people arrested and many more hurt.
“Despite formally requesting a meeting over a week ago, and then us putting forward a highly skilled mediator five days ago, the Government still refuses to engage with us.”
Labour and the Greens aren’t the only targets of the protestors’ frustration.
“Despite the protesters having the sympathy of other members of parliament, it is astounding that not one MP has yet found the courage to speak out publicly and fulfill their duties to the New Zealanders they are elected to represent.
“Friday’s Horizon poll exclusively sought by Stuff revealing that 30 percent of New Zealanders support the protestors should have been a wake-up call to the National Party in particular. That amounts to more than 1.2 million of the voting public (or 1 in 3). We have always known the whole ‘team of 5 million’ was purely PR spin, and this poll proved that once and for all.
“But if National thinks they’re going to mop up the votes when Labour eventually implodes, they are delusional.
“Luxon’s strong support for mandates, and unnecessary vaccination of healthy children, will be remembered at the next election. As far as the million-plus voters that we now know support the protestors are concerned, he has blood on his hands as much as Ardern for our nation’s current situation.
“At this point, it is hard to find a New Zealander unaffected by the mandates. Most of us know someone who’s lost their job or business. We see friends and family affected by declining mental health and even suicide. After being banned from playing sports, kids are in tears and miss everyday activities with friends. The mandates have touched everyone, and every person driven to stand at Parliament Grounds is there because their wide-scale worsening misery still goes unheard.
“In any normal situation like this, the Opposition would read the room and pivot. But by joining the cross-party agreement to not engage with the protestors, they have shown themselves to be gutless and incapable of representing the interests and concerns of the New Zealand public.
“In line with the government’s request, over the past few days, we have removed the cars blocking Molesworth Street at least three times to facilitate access for emergency services and servicing of portaloos, only to have protestors ignore the request and expand back into the laneway.
“Everyone arriving here quickly learns the protest is simply a collection of individuals. There is no leader, and while there are multiple pre-existing groups concerned about mandates and vaccines alike, we suspect that 25% of the people present on site do not identify with any group.
“We remain concerned that parliament’s cross-party ultimatum to ‘clear all the streets, or we won’t engage with you’ was a deliberate deflection tactic. Even the Police acknowledge the outcome will be impossible to achieve.
So, where does this leave the protest? We’re increasingly of the view that the government has childishly dug itself a hole and isn’t prepared to lose face to climb out of it. Despite knowing the outcome is impossible to achieve, the ultimatum over vehicle parking is not dissimilar to a top-down command issued by a parent to a child. The puerile behaviour exhibited by Mallard last week was such that, had the protestors been animals, charged with cruelty. It was enough to draw support for the protestors from the large Groundswell farmers’ group, which had previously been no fan of vaccine protests.
“It beggars belief that the person leading our government preaches for us to ‘be kind’.
“Despite initial worries about chaos from thousands of people converging on Parliament Grounds this weekend, at time of writing, the protest has been largely peaceful. But it could also have gone the other way altogether. Unacceptably, the government was happy to take that risk, disregarding public safety obligations. Many protestors naturally remain outraged over the serious questions about the legality of the mass arrests last week. The mood of many highly disaffected protestors would improve dramatically were the Police to agree to drop all charges.
“We’ve provided a highly qualified, experienced, neutral party to mediate. It is unprecedented for the government to refuse to meet with such a large protest group and treat them with such contempt. Their failure is highlighted further by the fact the government in the past has met with gangs.
“During the past week, there has been cooperation between various group representatives to establish systems and processes involving security, food, messaging, the Police and media liaison.
“We are naturally concerned about the impact on Wellington residents. However, we urge them to consider the tens of thousands of New Zealanders affected by the mandates.
“We repeat: Most of us know someone who’s lost their job or business. We see friends and family affected by declining mental health and even suicide. After being banned from playing sports, kids are in tears and miss everyday activities with friends. The mandates have touched everyone, and every person driven to stand at Parliament Grounds is there because their misery still goes unheard.
“We remain committed to speaking with senior government members to open dialogue about the COVID-19 Public Health Response Act and lifting of all mandates so that people can return to work and society. Mandates are ineffective, unnecessary, and an unacceptable curtailment of fundamental human rights. Freedom of expression, freedom of peaceful assembly, freedom of right of movement, freedom from unlawful discrimination, and freedom to manifestation of belief name only a few of the rights currently breached.”
This communication summarises the agreed position of groups representing the majority people at Parliament:
- Convoy 2022 NZ
- Freedom Alliance
- New Zealand Doctors Speaking Out with Science
- Outdoors & Freedom Movement
- The Freedom and Rights Coalition
- Voices for Freedom
***END OF PRESS RELEASE***