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Gillon Gets A Unusual Public Reprimand

The MP currently in the dog box for asking an obscene question in Parliament has not been given the opportunity to apologise - instead he has been given a public reprimand by his colleagues.

Alliance senior whip Grant Gillon this afternoon sought the leave of the House to make a personal explanation for his remarks in Parliament yesterday.

However National MPs objected to Mr. Gillon’s move and speaker Jonathon Hunt ruled Mr. Gillon's the statement could not go ahead.

National MP Roger Sowry then moved the House to censure Gillon for his behaviour which Sowry called “grossly offensive and defamatory.”

The motion was passed when Labour MPs did not oppose it.

Censuring is one step down from “naming” a member - a punishment which can lead to members being banned from the House.

While it carries no specific penalties, the move to censure Mr. Gillon is a serious public reprimand and a highly unusual punishment. A spokesperson for the Parliamentary Clerk’s office said the last time an MP had been censured was “decades ago”.

Mr. Gillon made the offensive remarks yesterday in a supplementary question about genetic engineering in agriculture:

"I ask the minister whether, no pun intended, it's appropriate in this case for a woman's body parts to be inserted into a sheep when that's normally been the domain of Tory males?"

The remarks caused howls of protest from National MPs, including veteran Simon Upton who said the remarks were the most offensive he had heard in his 19 years in Parliament.

Speaking to media yesterday, Mr. Gillon admitted the remarks were inappropriate but said they should be taken in their context as a joke.

Mr. Gillon said he believed the outcry from the National MPs was based on political considerations rather than a sense of moral outrage.

In the wake of the incident National MPs have been calling for the Alliance to sack Mr. Gillon from his position as senior whip.

Alliance leader Jim Anderton and Speaker of the House Jonathon Hunt have both spoken to Mr. Gillon about his remarks.

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