GUEST BLOG: Iain Lees-Galloway – Cowardly National Don’t Front For The Tough Stuff


Over the last two days I have participated in two political panels and one community forum with my Associate Health hat on. The topics were alcohol, drug reform and legal highs.

Being an elected representative means you have to front up to everybody. Its nice when you’re in a room filled with people who agree with you. Then there are the days it feels like everyone is against you. That’s the job and we should all be ready to ride the highs and lows of public life. That’s what we get paid for.

It’s fair to say that over the three events I’ve experienced the complete set of responses from enthusiastic support to nods of unexcited approval to forthright opposition. I’ve been told it’s great to have someone like me in Parliament. I’ve been told our policy needs more punch. I’ve been told I’m stupid and don’t know what I’m talking about.

But while I’ve been fronting up to the diverse audiences ready to discuss policy and listen to alternative points of view not a single National MP has showed up at any of these events. Not one. They were invited. They were given plenty of time to find a replacement if the appropriate MP couldn’t be there but none had the guts to show up.

These are difficult subjects where the evidence is often at odds with public opinion. The issues are challenging. Opinions are strongly held and hard to change. People don’t hold back if they think you’re doing it wrong. But that doesn’t mean we should hide away. It’s our job to listen to everyone. I find it invigorating talking to people who disagree with me. It tests my knowledge, my experience and my opinion. If I can’t provide a strong argument in favour of my position I need to think about why that is. Even when I broadly disagree with someone there might be something in what they say that I can learn from.

But I’d never know if I didn’t show up.

By being too scared to face people who hold strong views on challenging issues, National is ignoring anyone who disagrees with their point of view. Only hanging out with sycophants makes for good photo-ops but it makes you out-of-touch with the rest of the population.

My message to National: Harden up and start listening.

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Iain Lees-Galloway – Labour Party MP
Originally published on Iain’s blog.


  1. If you could name me the events that you have attended where the people were actively hostile to your viewpoint it would strengthen your case on this topic immensely. What were they?

    • But Gosman what is so hostile about focusing on the problems associated with alcohol, drug and legal high abuse? At least one Government MP should have been present at the community forum to show support for the reforms.

      Surely common sense dictates it’s our responsibility, through our elected representatives, to attempt to address and reform these issues, making NZ a much safer and better place for all Kiwis, particularly the young and vulnerable.

      Obviously the government prefers to turn a blind eye to the damaging effects of alcohol, drug and legal high abuse. Another point is as far as alcohol is concerned, the booze barons of NZ are National’s biggest benefactors.

      The government’s no show at the forum, is evidence Key and Co are reluctant to give their cronies in the alcohol industry any grief through reform!

    • Gosman says:
      March 22, 2014 at 10:01 pm

      If you could name me the events that you have attended where the people were actively hostile to your viewpoint it would strengthen your case on this topic immensely. What were they?

      Would it make a blind bit of difference to you?

  2. And National have just slashed funding to combat problem gambling. Says a lot about National’s friends and their priorities, doesn’t it?

    • Have they actually “slashed” funding?

      My understanding is they are keeping the same funding but intend transferring it (bar the Asian portion) from the PGF to the Sallies in June.

      Not correct?

  3. I haven’t seen any comment on this conference being hosted by the Star Trust, a legal highs industry group? Isn’t that the same as an alcohol harm reduction conference sponsored by Lion Nathan?
    It seems there was some valuable discussion, but I skeptical of the hosts.

  4. Haven’t you noticed, NO national minister has debated publicly since national came to power in 2008.

  5. I have now been on 8/9 political panels on health and Tony Ryall has refused to be at any of them.

  6. The reason they never turn up to debate anything is that it is the Natz policy directed by No Choice Joyce ….DO NOT openly debate anything! They are banned from doing it! He picks what programmes Shonkey can go on and asks for the questions to be forwarded prior to the interview and writes the text for Shonkey to stick too! Shonkey cannot think on his feet!

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