BARRY SOPER: There seems to be a perception among the ignorant out there that Cabinet Ministers sit around the table every Monday, wringing their hands, thinking how they can make our lives a misery.

You only have to listen to the rhetoric surrounding the Trans Pacific Partnership to arrive at that conclusion. This Government is linking arms with Uncle Sam for the hillbilly hoedown, well that's what they'd have you believe.

But that's rhetoric and in a democracy we're all entitled to have a say, regardless of how ridiculous the proposition might be and regardless of which party happens to be sitting on the Treasury benches.

It's when the political rhetoric becomes the reality of physical abuse that it becomes a step too far and that occurred in Christchurch yesterday.


At a time when Cantabrians were remembering the 185 deaths in the city five years ago it was no time for protest. That occurred over the weekend when some rightly vented their frustration that their insurance claims still hadn't been settled.

Yesterday was a day for remembering those who died and the families that are grieving. As the moving ceremony drew to a close a yobbo stepped from the crowd clutching a two litre ice cream container, announced "this is for you" and emptied the foul smelling contents over the head of the Minister who's been overseeing the city's recovery.

Regardless of what you may think about Gerry Brownlee he didn't, and no one deserves to be treated in such a vile way. Brownlee was born and bred in Christchurch and he, more than anyone else around the Cabinet table, wants to see the city back on its feet again.

He left Hagley Park with the thick, brown, gooey mess dripping from his head. A woman with some baby wipes helped clean him up enough to allow him to get into his car and head home for a shower.

The yobbo's rightly been arrested and charged with assault. The police will now no doubt be reflecting on the slap of the wrist they doled out to the woman who threw a dildo at Steven Joyce a couple of weeks back.

Let's hope this isn't going to become the norm for political protest. Hopefully the police action on this occasion will send the message that this sort of behaviour is beyond the pale.

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