Wellington Central, with 14 candidates, looks like being a more interesting electorate than my own Hutt South, where Labour’s Trevor Mallard would probably struggle to lose if the National Party chose Nelson Mandela to stand against him.
So (representative) democracy live and well in the capital – with candidates including Justin Harnish, of the Republic of New Zealand Party, who described his appearance at a public meeting last night thus:
It was hard to concentrate on the speeches of the others after me and it was only after the night was over I was told that the only round of applause louder than the one I received was for Stephen Franks.
Mr Harnish is campaigning on issues of gender equality – his first plan is to abolish the Family Court and introduce a Ministry of Men’s Affairs.
More from Mr Harnish on how he sees gender equality panning out:
What is a woman’s idea of a real man? I’m sure very few could answer that as it changes depending on their mood and whether they want to get their way or not. Obviously the following statement needs to be seen within reason but I have the impression that a woman likes a man who has the guts to put their foot down – though when it doesn’t suit it’s called harrasment and controling.
No wonder men are so confused not only about their role in society but a little timid when it comes to “being the man”.
Mr Harnish, as Tigerseye, is also a fairly regular contributor to Menz, a website devoted to “promoting a clearer understanding of men’s experience.”
Menz is very helpful. Men who think their partner may be trying to get a protection order in court (New Zealand’s way of protecting those who are victims of domestic violence) can copy a form letter denying violence to send to the judge. Men can get advice on how to make sure their “everyday normal” behaviour does not get misunderstood by court psychologists as abusive or controlling. And there are a number of resources available for men who have been charged with sexually abusing their children. This no longer includes a list of psychologists to contact for help in “re-assessing” professional reports of abuse – a resource I believe the website had up until a year ago.
Interesting Mr Harnish associates himself with National candidate Stephen Franks, himself a favourite on the Menz website when he was an MP for the ACT party. Mr Franks, a law and order afficionado, supports the Sensible Sentencing Trust in arguing for more punitive action against violent offenders in the name of victims rights.
Except, it seems, when those victims were raped. Mr Franks, to the delight of Menz, said in 2002 that women should not be protected from cross-examination by the alleged rapist in court, because of his concerns over false rape allegations.
Good to know what “gender equality” and “victim’s rights” really mean to these candidates.