Yesterday, a crew of GreenPeace affiliated activists scaled Parliament in order to install solar panels.
Predictably, this annoyed the hell outta the National Party - and not least because it made something of a laughing-stock of Parliamentary security.
Speaker of the House David Carter came out strongly against the action - calling it a "serious risk", referring to the action as an "attack", and inviting the Police onto the Parliamentary Precinct in order to deal with the protest.
This stands in marked contravention to the way National has responded to some previous protest actions at Parliament - with luminaries who will no doubt be baying for some book-throwing striking up quite a different tune when it came to their own peers.
Then-Deputy Leader Gerry Brownlee insisted that prosecuting National MP Shane Ardern for driving a tractor called Myrtle up the steps of Parliament constituted a "frivolous prosecution" and lamented the "extraordinary expense police [had] gone to". It didn't seem to matter that he directly defied Parliament's manager of security and operations attempting to stop him - and I can't help but note that in contrast to Carter's actions, then-Speaker of the House Jonathan Hunt deliberately refused to attempt to influence the Police in their decision as to whether or not to get involved.
Further, I don't seem to recall even a hint of disquiet from National MPs about future Speaker of the House Lockwood Smith's actions during the same protest. Not only did he brazenly lead a pair of cows up the steps of Parliament ... one even defecated on our national legislature.
National's protest action quite literally expressed both their contempt for and contribution to our democracy (so very, very much "Bovine Scatology" - as Winston would say) ... and nobody batted an eye.
But four peaceful protesters scale Parliament to provide it with free power ... and suddenly everyone loses their minds.
So in short: when does National reckon protesting at Parliament is a "serious risk"?
Answer: when it's not a National MP doing it. Preferably, for a cause that's anti-sustainability rather than pro-renewables.
[Thanks to Michael Bott for providing the inspiration for this article]
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