Labour hit back on NZ New Speaker’s decision

    The blocking of the West Papuan Freedom Fighter, Benny Wenda from speaking at New Zealand Parliament is now a matter for the New Speaker Hon. David Carter to look at after Labour released a statement saying that it appeared to be influenced by government views rather than what is good for New Zealand as a whole.

    Benny Wenda tweeted on Friday 9th that he “arrived safely in Auckland, New Zealand earlier this evening in the next leg of the West Papua Freedom Tour.”

    Co-Leader Dr Russel Norman from Greens last week singled out the Minister of Foreign Affairs and said that, “I think it’s pretty clear the Foreign Affairs Minister has had some influence on this decision,” referring to Indonesia as New Zealand’s big trading partner.

    “Benny Wenda has been the guest of the UK Parliament, the EU Parliament and the United Nations but our Speaker has ruled he cannot speak here at the New Zealand Parliament unless he is hosted by a political party in their own caucus room,” said Labour MP and Associate Foreign Affairs spokesperson Maryan Street.

    “The Speaker’s office took advice on this issue from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and was told it was not appropriate for Benny Wenda to be hosted within Parliament unless his visit was owned by a political party which would host the event in their own area, where they could be as ‘political’ as they liked.

    “But Parliament is not the Government. Parliament consists of government and opposition, and the government’s sensitivities should not dictate who can air their views at Parliament and who cannot. It is the place where a range of views should be heard.

    “As one of the MPs hosting Benny Wenda’s visit, I want the guidelines surrounding meetings held at Parliament to be revisited by the new Speaker. Such decisions should be made on the basis of principle, not on the basis of whether or not the Government feels uncomfortable about it,” said Maryan Street.

    Benny Wenda is currently living in exile in Britain and he is visiting New Zealand as part of his West Papua Freedom Tour  around the world to promote his campaign against the atrocity of the Indonesians in his country.

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