In addition to being a journalist, Maggie Barry used to be the queen of gardens.
She hosted a gardening programme on TV in New Zealand for over a decade, and was frequently referred to as “lovely”.
Then for some reason, she was struck by the inexplicable desire to become a politician. As Billy Connolly once said, the desire to become a politician should immediately disqualify a person from ever being one, but Maggie soldiered on to be elected in Devonport, one of the most painfully moneyed suburbs on Auckland’s North Shore.
During the election campaign last year, Maggie was shocked and surprised to be the target of a torrent of abuse. Being a conservative campaigning for a fairly safe conservative seat, she was beset by socialists at every turn.
Well, outside a supermarket (where she was spat at) and in a café where a customer told her she was not welcome because the establishment was “red”.
“I love Devonport’s character and spirit … but these incidents showed bad manners – that is how my mother would have described them.”
That’s how Ms Barry reacted in Devonport’s local curtaintwitcher at the time.
Perhaps she needs a refresher course in manners, given that she has now taken to attacking other women for not having children.
32-year-old Labour MP Jacinda Ardern attacked Barry’s government during a parliamentary debate over whether to extend paid parental leave from fourteen weeks to six months. The government is opposed to the idea.
According to the NZ Herald, Ardern said: “This Government has proven that their priority is not children.”
“How many kids do you have?”
Putting aside the fact that we’ve evolved beyond the point where a woman’s only purpose is to be a brood mare for the species, there’s nothing that pisses me off more than those who think that those of us without children have no right to an opinion on their welfare.
After the debate, Ms Barry went on to tell the Herald:
“When it comes to these things Jacinda Ardern is getting her knowledge from books as opposed to personal experience.
“When people take the moral high ground they probably are leaving themselves open a bit.”
Ms Barry said there was still time for Ms Ardern to have children. “I didn’t have my son Joe until I was 38. I don’t know how old Jacinda is but there’s still plenty of time for her to have kids.”
Can you imagine this being said to a male politician?
At any rate, one has to wonder whether there is some truth to Ardern’s claims that the government’s priority is not with children.
Prime Minister John Key likes to use the word “priority” quite a lot, particularly when he is faced with the question of same-sex couples being able to adopt.
Despite the Young Nationals managing to pass a remit at this year’s National Party conference for same-sex couples in civil unions being able to adopt, there’s not likely to be any action on it.
“This is a victory for the Young Nats who have led this issue in the party,” he says. “The Young Nats are a strong voice in the National Party and have proven again that they do have real influence. The Young Nats have been achieving wins on key issues, including youth mental healthcare.”
I sense there’s a “but” coming.
“After the remit passed Key told media the remit could be adopted as a Government bill, but it would need to be considered against the rest of the Government’s work programme.
“You have to think through the amount of parliamentary time that would be chewed up on that issue,” he said.
“But realistically it’s just not the biggest issue that we face. I know it’s important to those people, but they’re a very small group.”
Well done, kids, have a biscuit and fuck off.
By Key’s logic, this issue will never come up for debate. There will always be something more important to chew up parliamentary time, like shouting bitchy insults across the house about how many kids you’ve punched out.
This is a perfect bone to throw to socially progressive supporters of National without frightening the bigots who say things like the following:
“The ONLY reason this is an issue is because the Gay lobby wants it. Not because of concern about children.”
“What happened to children’s rights? Don’t they deserve a mum and a dad? But gays trump kids.”
“I think they see children as accessories a lot of the time, like an iphone or a purse.”
Those were the first three comments under conservative blogger David Farrar’s report on the adoption remit (he personally supports law reform).
Heterosexuals see their children as accessories all the time. To pretend otherwise is self-delusion. If we’re not besieged by badly-composed photos of offspring with food smeared all over their mouths at every turn, we’re forced to listen to stories about how they’ve done something amazing (like say a word), for which the parents take full credit.
The Prime Minister loves to come to the Big Gay Out every year and pose with drag queens and muscle boys, but he is yet to make any substantial contribution to the equality of GLBT citizens during his time in office.
He wants to have his cake and eat it too – and the cake is made of mock cream.