A row has erupted in parliament over Maori MP Hone Harawira, who has goneI can't see what the fuss is about. There is predictable a bit of whinging about "abusing an official trip" (2) and the like, but he's probably making better use of his time than if he were hanging about in Melbourne with the official party. Melbourne is a lovely city and if I were minded to go abscond from official duties, I'd have stayed right there. Or gone to a bout a million different places before I ended up in a Aboriginal settlement on the outskirts of Alice Springs (3).
AWOL from a parliamentary visit to Melbourne.
He had been on a select committee trip but while other politicians were
still in Melbourne Harawira travelled to the Northern Territory with a film crew
to see for himself how some of Australia's indigenous people live. (1)
Hone hasn't just been lying back and enjoying the wonderful vista of corrugated iron, grog shops and gang tagging, however:
Whatever he's seeing and doing out there, its probably more relevant than what his colleagues are work-shopping in a Melbourne conference room.
Mr Harawira told the Herald from Alice Springs yesterday he had gone to the Northern Territory to discuss indigenous issues with Aboriginal groups.
He met tribal authorities and was last night accompanying patrols to Aboriginal camps.
"I want to see the other side of the rabbit-proof fence," he said.
He has criticised the Australian Government's emergency legislation to intervene in Northern Territory Aboriginal communities to try to stop sexual abuse of children.
"I wanted to discuss the racist piece of legislation that no one out here has been consulted on," he said. (4)
If he's mis-used tax-payer money, or failed in his duty, some form of censure is needed, of course. Legitimizing his behaviour would set a precedent that other MPs will exploit, though I suspect that most of them would do their 'research' somewhere more appealing than the ramshackle suburbs of Alice Springs.
1 - "Harawira sparks row over walkabout," unattributed One News/Newstalk ZB article on One News site, 10th of August, 2007. (http://tvnz.co.nz/view/page/411749/1287509)
2 - ibid.
3 - "Harawira defiant over outback trip," By Martin Van Beynen, in The Press, 10th of August, 2007. Reproduced on www.stuff.co.nz, (http://www.stuff.co.nz/4159085a10.html)
4 - "'It's the right thing' - Harawira defends Outback walkabout," by Angela Gregory, in the NZ Herald, 10th of August, 2007. (http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/1/story.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10456916)