The Public Service Association (PSA) says the harassment of staff at the Ministry for Pacific Peoples on Thursday morning is alarming and disquieting.
The PSA also condemns media comments made by ACT Leader David Seymour about the Ministry.
The incident at the Ministry’s office took place before Seymour made his comments, and there is no direct link between these two specific incidents.
However, PSA National Secretary Duane Leo says that Seymour’s comment is just the latest attack on the public service, and on institutions such as the Ministry, the Human Rights Commission and Ministry for Women, which aim to support groups facing systemic inequity.
“These attacks go far beyond holding the public service to account. Their effect is to drum up resentment towards specific groups – public servants, Pacific peoples, and others,” Leo says.
“In our view the constant targeting feeds a polarised political environment that is often dangerous to those specific groups. The harassment of Ministry employees is an example of how things can escalate in such a hostile environment,” Leo says.
Seymour’s framing of his comment as a “joke” showed a lack of awareness from a senior politician, Leo says. “It is never a joke for someone in a position of power or a political leader to talk about killing people,” Leo says.
The Ministry for Pacific Peoples has said in a statement that on Thursday morning two people tried to enter its Wellington office to film and get comment from staff in relation to sensitive expenditure.
On Thursday afternoon in a radio interview, ACT leader David Seymour, made a reference to sending Guy Fawkes – famous for plotting to blow up the English Parliament – in to the Ministry. He was answering a question about ACT’s policy to abolish the Ministry. "In my fantasy we'd send a guy called Guy Fawkes in there and it'd be all over but we'll probably have to have a more formal approach than that," Seymour said.