“The Parliamentary riots reflect a sad chapter in New Zealand history, there were ugly acts on all sides of it which can’t be excused but its important to look at what caused the event – needlessly inflexible vaccination policy and an immature and divisive response from the Government,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“Today’s IPCA report confirms what was apparent to most who witnessed the protest. There were a few rogue officers who used excessive force and should be relieved of their duties, but the overwhelming majority of frontline police showed professionalism and class in trying circumstances.

“Police were put in an impossible position though, they were the frontline fighting a war created by divisive vaccine policy and continually being inflamed by Labour MPs. Parliament’s Speaker Trevor Mallard handled things in the worst possible way, his response to the protest outside parliament was an immature mix of speakers and sprinklers. Michael Wood further inflamed tensions by describing the occupants as a river of filth”.

“Why is that #BeKind seems to produce some of the most unkind responses?

“Jacinda Ardern famously labelled New Zealand a “team of five million” early on in the COVID response. What may have started as an attempt at unity became something the Government used to divide. If you thought the Government’s COVID laws were wrong, or complained about them ruining your business, or expressed any real opinion not in line with the Government’s status quo, then you weren’t part of the “team of five million”.

“It was this division and loss of social cohesion that led to the parliament protest. It didn’t need to be that way.

“In the leadup to vaccine mandates being enforced in November 2021 ACT said that the Government should allow regular testing as an alternative to vaccination. I said in my press release on 14 November 2021:

“There is a meanness in the Government’s tone towards vaccination that is not good for social cohesion in the long term. We were once a team of five million uniting against COVID-19, Ardern’s ‘my way or the highway’ approach to vaccine mandates is undoing that unity and replacing it with division… if the Government is going to press on with sector-wide mandates, then it should allow the choice of testing.”

“After all, you don’t have to agree with views on vaccinations to be compassionate towards fellow humans.

“The protest will be remembered as a sad chapter in New Zealand’s history and a reflection on the Government’s irrational and divisive response. Unfortunately the aftermath doesn’t end there, New Zealand will be dealing with the effects on mental health, learning, crime, social cohesion and the economy for years to come.”

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