Open letter to Ruth Dyson: MP's Behavioural Misconduct
Open letter to the Hon. Ruth Dyson, Chair of the Government Administration Committee
Behavioural Misconduct of Committee MPs towards me during my Oral Submission
Regarding the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill Select Committee Room 2, Bowen House, Wellington, 10 December 2012
I am Grace Carroll, an eighteen-year-old citizen of Paraparaumu, and write to complain about some select committee members' conduct towards me during my oral submission regarding the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill on 10 December 2012.
You are aware that through Family First NZ’s National Director Bob McCoskrie, a journalist approached me regarding my treatment. I engaged with them rather than the committee because I have no faith in this committee's proceedings and outcome based on my experience, and a sense that little action, if any, would be taken by the committee to investigate and resolve proBill bias and committee member poor conduct.
The delay in action was because of how close to Christmas and New Year it was, and 10 December being the last date of the year for oral submissions. I needed time to process the distasteful and disrespectful experience and decide the most appropriate course of action – this open letter.
It is unacceptable for Members of Parliament to behave in an unprofessional and undemocratic manner.
My expectations on entering the room were to give and receive in the least, respect – for you in your position as people’s representatives and MPs, and myself in an exercise of my rightful democratic voice.
This did not happen. I reiterate my experience to you so that the full extent is brought to your attention.
No media were present and the room was seated entirely by proBill submitters.
1. The conduct of Acting Chair Chris Auchinvole.
I understand that it's deemed “common” for MPs to obtain food and drink during submission hearing times as they see fit. But I find it downright rude that Mr Auchinvole deemed it appropriate – within 30 seconds of my commencement for a couple of minutes (equating to much of my speaking time) – to make a point of turning his back to me, creating a lengthy ordeal of obtaining refreshments during my submission. He had heard five prior submissions with adequate time to obtain such ‘necessities’. In any custom this is deeply offensive, and culturally an illmannered act of insolence. It did not encourage me to continue and certainly not to participate in what I am entitled to – a voice and a hearing. This should not be permitted to occur again, especially for young people, whatever their position, who are the future voters of this country.
2. The conduct of MP Kevin Hague.
Whatever Mr Hague may state as the "truth", I still maintain in good faith and honesty that he did call me "homophobic". Mr Hague was the first to address me. His demeanour, expression and manner were unsavoury and demeaning, with a lack of respect and courtesy in his dialogue. I am puzzled why Mr Hague, as reported recently in the media, finds the word ‘virtue’ offensive or outrageous that I quoted the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jnr in support of my rights. My intentions were not to offend but to relay my perspectives calmly and courteously for I am aware of the privileged position of the MPs and committee hearing etiquette. I do NOT appreciate being called "homophobic" for no apparent reason than that I disagreed with Mr Hague’s position on the Bill. I find it insulting and offensive in its own right because every human being deserves respect and dignity. When I stated my belief in everyone’s dignity, Mr Hague said in a terse tone, “I think you are (homophobic)”. If namecalling is what a grown man, an MP, resorts to, to argue against someone’s point of view, then I am disgusted that this is deemed acceptable in the circles of the democratic lawmakers of New Zealand and that this is the state of New Zealand politics.
3. The conduct of MP Moana Mackey.
In any circle of society, rolling your eyes at someone is very rude, insulting everything that they are saying or doing, speaking volumes that the person does not care and cannot be bothered listening to the speaker. I find it incredulous and impertinent that Ms Mackey – an MP who is there to listen to all citizens – would deem it appropriate to do so during my submission. Plainly uncalled for and shows a lack of selfrestraint on behalf of the person.
Ms Dyson, I am not here to cause trouble or to undermine the select committee processes regarding this Bill. Before this experience, I maintained respect for MPs and the privileged position they hold. After all, you are the representatives of the people. I continue to show respect but this experience has left me questioning our government, its officials, its processes, and the circumstances in which the MPs conduct themselves and how they conduct themselves. This is the outcome of encountering such overwhelming proBill bias.
If I had not received such bias and disrespectful behaviour from certain committee MPs I would not be in this position of complaint, I would not need further involvement with the submissions if I had been treated fairly, and my participation would have started and finished with the hearing.
But I will not tolerate bias, disrespect, and discourteous conduct from anyone, especially not Members of Parliament in a select committee hearing, where I have the civil and social right to be heard in a fair and democratic environment. I find it ironic that my oral submission day was the 10 of December, coinciding with International Human Rights Day. The campaign: 'My Voice Counts'. Did my voice count? Did you listen? If that is how things are to be run, then I don’t see the point for socalled democratic forums such as the committees and hearings. It simply defeats the reason for existence and defies the productivity of democracy.
As the Chairperson, I believe you are in a position to make a change regarding this matter; so at least further misconduct towards citizens of our nation regarding this Bill is prevented. I would like an investigation into the issue of my shocking experience and the obvious multiple bias of the committee. I hope you do me the courtesy of replying to this letter to say what action you will take.
If you do not, I will persist in other areas to prevent MP’s misconduct during hearings, and an investigation into the reality of my experience. My only wish is that all democratic proceedings regarding this Bill shall be conducted fairly, honestly, openly and impartially. I hope that is not too much to ask Ms Dyson.
I look forward to your reply.