29 Aug 2019

Greens labelled 'wowsers' after opposing venues staying open during RWC

8:15 am on 29 August 2019

The Greens have been labelled "wowsers" and accused of preferring people smoke "wacky-tobaccy" than have a beer - as they stood as the sole opposition to a bill allowing venues to stay open for the Rugby World Cup.

Green MP Marama Davidson in the Maori Affairs Select Committee 2017.

Greens co-leader Marama Davidson warned the bill had a dangerous subtext. Photo: VNP / Phil Smith

The bill rushed through a streamlined process in the House yesterday, in a fiery and colourful debate.

It mirrors legislation brought in for the 2015 tournament, and will allow licensed venues to stay open and serve alcohol as they televise the rugby matches in Japan, which is three - soon to be four - hours behind New Zealand.

Justice Minister Andrew Little said this was about allowing something that was pretty natural to most New Zealanders.

"Which is to want to gather together with friends and family in a convivial environment, to enjoy each other's company, enjoy the sporting extravaganza, but also to imbibe in alcoholic beverages of their choice," he said.

But Greens co-leader Marama Davidson warned that the bill has a dangerous subtext.

"How much longer are we going to continue to tag the sporting culture of our country, which I am incredibly proud of, to drinking?" she said.

ACT leader David Seymour called out the Greens for being "wowsers".

"The wowsers are never far from our politics in this country and they lie in wait to ruin anyone's fun that may seek to have it".

Mr Seymour had a message for anyone worried this legislation will lead to alcohol harm: "Don't worry".

"Because I have to confess being a little bit nervous in 2015, because there were those who said, those wowsers of whom I warned us earlier, who said New Zealanders can't handle it.

"They'll go and they'll be lying destitute and pissed in the gutters up and down this country.

"And yet what happened was nothing brings together New Zealanders better than sport", Mr Seymour said.

Green MP Jan Logie embraced Mr Seymour's insult, saying if taking a strong stance against linking rugby with alcohol makes her a "wowser", she's ok with that.

"If we think about that and the place that we've given this game in our culture, and for us to spend time in this House ahead of other things for the purpose of ensuring people following our national game are able to have a drink", Ms Logie said.

But National MP Gerry Brownlee rebuked the Greens position, describing it as "very sad" and suggested it reeked of hypocrisy.

"I wonder if all of those who are going to turn up to bars to watch these games would be more acceptable in the Greens' eyes if they were having a couple of puffs on the old wacky baccy and rather than looking at the screen, just imagining what's going on", Mr Brownlee said.

Several MPs also argued that there needs to be a more permanent solution, so they aren't back debating and rushing through similar legislation again in another four years.

There's a high degree of confidence among MPs, that if there is another debate in four years, it will be about the right to have a beer in pub while watching the All Blacks, yet again, defend their World Cup crown.