17 May 2024

'I can do much better': Green MP Julie Anne Genter promises to improve conduct

1:05 pm on 17 May 2024
Green Party MP Julie Anne-Genter

Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

Green MP Julie Anne Genter has publicly promised she won't ever again behave in the way she did during a confrontation in Parliament earlier this month.

The Rongotai MP is facing multiple formal complaints after she crossed the chamber and shouted in Mental Health Minister Matt Doocey's face, during a Parliament debate.

She has been referred to the Privileges Committee, which acts as Parliament's court, and is chaired by National's Judith Collins and made up of members from all political parties.

Since the incident, two other members of the public have accused Genter of previous intimidating behaviour.

She told Midday Report she knows she needs to improve her de-escalation skills - and is undergoing training.

"It was a very vigorous debate. As I said on the night, I had a genuine desire to share the contents of a select committee report with the other side of the House, but clearly my intention is not what was perceived by others and I take full responsiblity for that, and will ensure that doesn't happen again," Genter said.

While she says it's not common for her to lose her temper, she knows she can do better in future.

"It's my goal to have respectful informed debate...but I can do much better in situations that become heated."

She says she'll also receive professional supervision - and promises there won't be a repeat.

"I have realised that in really heated conversations where there's a lot of anger, I have not always been able to de-escalate the situation, and in future I should walk away."

Genter says there's a level of "accountability and scrutiny" that comes with being a member of Parliament and she's very open to "feedback" on how she can do the job better.

She's already undertaking a specific programme on de-escalation and managing difficult conversations.

Genter acknowledged it had been an "emotional time" when the incident happened but accepted she needed to improve her behaviour in the future.

"We had the memorial for our colleague, Efeso Collins, the day before, we had the final speech from James Shaw - things happen in a context, but what I can focus on is improving my behaviour in the future, and having the tools to ensure nothing like that happens again."

The MP jetted off to nearby Chatham Islands, which she also represents, in the days immediately after the outburst at Parliament. She told Midday Report that had been long-planned.

"It was really important as the local MP that I attended that."

Since returning on Friday she has been working in her Rongotai electorate office during the recess week and plans to be back in Parliament when the House sits again on Tuesday.

Genter's unruly behaviour comes at the same time an investigation into her suspended colleague, Darleen Tana, rolls into a ninth week.

Tana has been off work and away from Parliament for half its sitting days this year despite continuing to collect her full salary.

The Green Party is holding its State of the Planet event in Auckland on Sunday - the party's first scene setter speech for the year, which co-leaders Marama Davidson and Chloe Swarbrick will both attend and speak at.