11 Feb 2013

NZ opposition MPs criticise speaker's move to ban West Papuan from parliament

2:37 pm on 11 February 2013

The decision by New Zealand's parliamentary speaker to bar a visiting West Papuan activist from speaking at parliament this week has met with criticism from opposition MPs.

The UK-based Benny Wenda is due in Wellington tomorrow to talk about the plight of the indigenous people of Indonesia's troubled Papua region.

Speaker David Carter's refusal stems from advice he says he received from government officials deeming the Wenda visit inappropriate.

The Green Party MP, Catherine Delahunty, says the refusal is disappointing.

And the Labour MP, Maryan Street, says cross-party events should not be dictated to by the level of sensitivity that a government feels about them.

"He is a representative of West Papuans. He is recognised internationally as that. He has been a guest of the UK parliament, the European Union parliament and a guest at the United Nations. Why can't he be hosted at the New Zealand parliament even if the government does not agree with his position? Parliament is more than government. It's government and opposition."

Maryan Street