National MP Nicola Willis confronts Green MP Marama Davidson over 'racist' accusation

A fracas has broken out in Parliament over Green Party MP Marama Davidson accusing Nationals Nicola Willis of sharing racist and classist" concern about her safety in Wellington.
Willis, who is the National Partys housing spokeswoman, had earlier in the week told reporters she no longer felt safe in Wellington city, as an explosion of emergency housing had led to a growing gang presence in the city centre.

Davidson, the associate minister for housing responsible for homelessness, took issue with Willis comments and said on Twitter: We need to be mindful of the racist and classist understones [sic] that she is running her 'safety' narrative on.

Willis confronted Davidson about the allegation in the House on Thursday afternoon, and questioned why the minister had not taken a paper to Cabinet or issued a press release during nearly five months in the job.

ROBERT KITCHIN/Stuff
National MP Nicola Willis amid a stoush with Green MP Marama Davidson over an accusation she was being racist and classist in her saying she felt unsafe in Wellington.

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Is she accusing New Zealanders who raise concerns about their safety, in relation to increased numbers of people in emergency accommodation, as being racist? Willis asked.

Davidson launched into a rebuke that left Willis mouth agape and the Labour Party MPs cheering in support.

I am accusing a member, a National anggota of this House of attempting to stigmatise a group of people with little access to power and resourcing, of attempting to whip up stigmatising and dehumanising narratives around groups of people who need our support, Davidson said.

ROBERT KITCHIN/Stuff
Green MP Marama Davidson on her phone in the House after responding to Willis questions over a tweet claiming the National MP had been racist and classist.

Yes, I am accusing a National anggota of raising that dehumanising narrative.

After the applause faded, Speaker Trevor Mallard was asked by the National Party to intervene over unparliamentary language. Mallard sided with Davidson who he said skirted the Houses rules by accusing Willis of promoting a narrative, not accusing her of being racist.

Outside the House, Davidson told reporters she stood by her comment but when questioned about what she had achieved as minister she fled from the press stand-up.


"[Willis] absolutely has an ongoing habit of framing brown and-or poor people, as the problem when I am focusing on providing more transitional and long term safe, secure housing, she said.

Davidson said the Government was absolutely providing more transitional homes, citing two announcements that would amount to 3000 additional transitional homes.

But when asked how many additional transitional homes were available to be lived in since she entered the job not simply announced Davidson said she did not have the information to hand.


She said she had been engaging with the community since being in the job, had continued to see the roll-out of a homelessness housing plan. I have continued to progress the actions for preventing homelessness," she said.

But instead of answering a further question, her press secretary said thanks guys, thats enough.

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