Labour Party MPs have defended their decision to vote in favour of a controversial new law passed this week.
The legislation passed by the government under urgency on Wednesday night requires all welfare beneficiaries to be paraded in town squares throughout the country, where they are to be pelted with rotten food and sprayed with raw sewage.
In a post on Labour Party blogsite Red Alert, MP Clare Curran wrote that the decision to vote for the law had been a difficult one, but the right one.
“Being in opposition isn’t always about opposing,” wrote Ms Curran.
“Sometimes it is better to work with the government to seek a change in legislation rather than take the high ground and oppose it altogether.”
Ms Curran wrote that she was proud of her party for achieving a number of late amendments to the bill.
“The original three-strikes provision of the bill gave authorities the option of forcefully sterilising DPB parents on the birth of their third child. But Labour successfully modified this tough provision so that it will not come into force for at least a week. That’s a huge relief for beneficiaries.
“We have also obtained a commitment from the Prime Minister than he will consider at some stage in the future, at a time to be determined by him at his sole discretion, an amendment to the law so that beneficiaries can opt in to being stripped, beaten and flogged in dedicated re-education facilities, rather than be paraded publicly through the towns. We think this provides a real alternative for those who have food allergies.
“Mr Key has promised he’ll do this, even though it’s not in the bill, and that’s good enough for us.”
Ms Curran acknowledged that the decision by Labour to vote for the law was a difficult one.
“I understand and am sympathetic to many of you who have raised concerns about this legislation, and who are deeply discomforted by having a sterilisation and ritualised humiliation provision in the law, even if some parts of the law are on hold until next week.
“But rather than oppose these measures outright, we realised that the only option was to compromise. I think New Zealand’s a much better place as a result.”
Labour Party leader Phil Goff also defended Labour’s decision to vote in favour of the new law during all readings of the bill.
“Let me reiterate that this is still a bad law,” said Mr Goff.
“We could have opposed it, but that would have achieved nothing. If we keep opposing every bill that comes along we’ll always be known as the opposition. We don’t want to be the opposition forever.
“People are telling me that they want Labour to be more positive. That’s why we’ve decided to vote for every stupid bit of law this government puts up, even though we hate doing it.
“This may well be an appallingly evil piece of law, but it’s time we stopped saying no all the time.”