Kieran McAnulty said the levels of abuse leveled at politicians was uncalled for. Photo / NZME
Alleged death threats have caused Wairarapa MP Kieran McAnulty to stop advertising mobile offices in the electorate.
McAnulty, the Minister for Emergency Management and Racing, has clarified a report that suggested the continued threats had caused him to discontinue the practice of staging mobile offices.
Local MPs have a long-established protocol of publicized street-corner meetings with constituents or setting up desks in public spaces, where people can meet with them and discuss local issues.
It’s particularly important for MPs with larger and more rural electorates – the Wairarapa electorate extends north into towns in Central Hawke’s Bay.
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“Working on the basis that I’ve received multiple death threats, parliamentary security has advised me that I can’t operate my mobile office the way I have in the past for the safety of myself and my staff,” McAnulty told Hawke’s Bay Todayvia a statement.
“I’m no longer able to advertise where I’ll be holding my mobile offices in advance which is really disappointing as it means less people are able to come along and so I can’t serve my constituents the way I want to.
“I’m really gutted at the situation as my mobile office was the first of its kind. I take my job as local MP very seriously and this was an innovative way to serve a very large and diverse electorate. This sort of behavior is coming from a tiny group of people, but it is affecting our whole democracy and needs to be called out.”
McAnulty earlier told Central FM that political debate was healthy, but the levels of abuse leveled at politicians was uncalled for.
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The topic of abuse against politicians has had a spotlight shone on it since Jacinda Ardern announced her resignation as prime minister in Napier a week ago.
Ardern said online abuse had an impact on her but was “not the basis of my decision” to resign.
Those farewelling Ardern have highlighted the level of vitriol aimed at the former prime minister and her family.
University of Auckland researchers found Ardern was the target of threats to a degree well beyond other politicians and public figures in this country.
Security experts have suggested that she will continue to need police protection now that she is out of the top job and after she leaves office.
Napier MP Stuart Nash told Hawke’s Bay Today he had not received any death threats himself and felt the political discourse was still relatively amicable.
Nash said that he looked forward to the resumption of his street-corner meetings with constituents in February.
“It’s my experience that even those who oppose your politics or your policies are reasonably respectful,” Nash said.