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Bradford Assaults Canterbury Student

This morning (Wednesday 13 October 1999) Max Bradford, the Minister of Tertiary Education and Defence visited the University of Canterbury.

Before he left (in the back of a police car) he assaulted one of the 100 students who were peacefully (if vocally) escorting him off campus. A complaint has been made to the police by this student over this excessive action by Max Bradford.

Max Bradford, Ilam MP (National) Gerry Brownlee, and National MP David Carter first spoke to students and answered questions at the Shelley Common Room, UCSA Building. The meeting (with less 18 hours notice given to University of Canterbury students) lasted from 9.30 - 10.20am and was attended by 250 to 300 students.

The meeting saw a lively debate between students and the three National MPs. Very little (if any) National policy was actually presented by the National MPs.

Max Bradford and Gerry Brownlee were very confrontational in answering questions. This degree of unnecessary confrontation reached its most extreme when Max Bradford personally insulted one of our very articulate masters students who was skilfully questioning him. This student is a more mature student who has returned to varsity for further education. Max Bradford blatantly responded to this student's questions by telling him he had been at varsity too long, and explicitly implying that he should not be here.

After the meeting ended the 250 to 300 students present peacefully escorted (with plenty of chanting) Max Bradford and his fellow MPs out of the UCSA Building.

The MPs headed to a meeting with the Association of University Staff (AUS) in the old Computer Science building (opposite the University Bookshop) and the students followed.

While the meeting went on the students quietly waited outside the old Computer Science building to escort the MPs off campus.

At 11am Max Bradford and fellow MPs left their meeting and were met by 100 chanting students. The students staged a peaceful sitdown and chant around the MPs car. After 5 minutes of chanting the MPs decided to leave on foot. The 100 students escorted the MPs: they led, the students simply escorted them.

The students did not use any violence against the MPs. Students repeatedly called out to the escorting students to remind them not to touch the MPs. Vocal chanting took place but no offensive language was used. The group was vocal and good natured. Enthusiastically and peacefully making a point concerning the tertiary education policies of the National Government. There was no justifiable provocation for the incident that followed, especially from a person in a position of responsibility such as an MP.

While walking from the old Computer Science building towards the Law School Carpark Max Bradford put and clenched one hand around one of the student's throats. The tension in Max Bradford was clear from my position a few metres back. The student was then forced backwards and fell.

The student has laid a complaint with the police.

The MPs and the accompanying students continued down University Drive. The MPs turned into the Law Carpark and entered the Law School building. The accompanying students followed (still chanting). After a few minutes of standing on the steps leading to the Law Library the MPs reversed their steps and exited the Law School by the same door they entered. The MPs and the still chanting students then gathered in around the low wall between the Law School and the Law carpark.

By this stage the number of chanting students had increased to about 150.

Two police cars arrived a few minutes later. Max Bradford and one of the other National MPs were escorted into the back of the first police car. The police car then backed away from the peaceful and still chanting students, and Max Bradford left the university. The other National MP and the rest of the National entourage left in the second police car.

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