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`It wasn't my fault' says Green's co-leader

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Russel Norman
Russel Norman

Wellington, July 2 NZPA - Green Party co-leader Russel Norman has been told off by Speaker Lockwood Smith for getting in the way of a Chinese delegation on its way into Parliament, but he says it wasn't his fault.

Dr Norman was involved in a scuffle on the forecourt last month as Chinese vice-president Xi Jinping was entering the building.

Chinese security officials tried to put an umbrella over Dr Norman to cover the Tibetan flag he was holding up, and there was pushing and shoving.

Dr Smith investigated, and wrote to Dr Norman yesterday saying there was no question that MPs and the public had a right to express their views through peaceful protest.

"I am concerned, however, that the television coverage and the parliamentary security CCTV cameras show that your behaviour was inappropriate and unnecessarily impeded others," he wrote.

"You could have undertaken your protest in a way that made your point without physical contact with the delegation."

Dr Norman took issue with that, telling reporters he was standing well away from the delegation.

"Chinese security guards started to push me around," he said.

"I ended up closer to the delegation than I had intended."

Dr Smith is proposing ways to avoid it happening again.

He wants MPs who plan to protest on the forecourt to discuss it with him before it happens, so ways can be worked out to stage it without problems arising.

Dr Smith says it could be necessary to mark out a space so they don't get in the way of people going into the building.

Dr Norman said he didn't have a problem with that.

"If it is clear where one has to stand then hopefully there will be more protection and in future we won't be grabbed by Chinese security guards."

He said if he discussed any future protest with Dr Smith he would make a point of asking that New Zealand security guards control the forecourt.

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