Editorial: MP should go now

17:51, Feb 13 2013

"Name's Prosser, Richard Prosser ... but you can call me Dick."

Okay, it's not likely the New Zealand First list MP will be introducing himself like that, but it would be appropriate.

He should also be introducing himself as a former MP from now on. His attack on young Muslim men in Investigate magazine was so disgracefully bigoted, and so potentially damaging to New Zealand's international reputation, that he should not have been allowed to resume the seat in Parliament that he left vacant on Tuesday afternoon, after the scandal came to light.

Yes, Mr Prosser issued a statement yesterday apologising for the column. He accepted that he had "impugned many peaceful, law-abiding Muslims". He also said his opinion piece - he has written one for Investigate for a decade - did not reflect the views of his party and he deeply regretted "any embarrassment" caused by it.

Fair enough, though one wonders just how much party leader Winston Peters had to do with that statement. A good deal, one suspects, having himself spent much of Tuesday defending his MP but also emphasising that the views expressed by Mr Prosser had not been "balanced". Slight understatement on Winston's part there: a circus performer twirling a plate on a stick while doing a one-armed handstand on a skateboard would have been better balanced.

But it wasn't only the fact that he suggested all young Muslim men of a certain age should be banned from flying on Western airlines - because, he sweepingly claimed, most terrorists are Muslims - but the inflammatory nature of his language that was so offensive. He said he wouldn't stand by and see the freedoms of New Zealanders "denigrated by a sorry pack of misogynist troglodytes from Wogistan".

Well, one wonders how peace-loving young Muslim men who have made new lives in New Zealand feel about being confronted with the rantings of xenophobic dropkicks from the Republic of Redneckistan. Not particularly happy, it appears from the calls for his expulsion from Parliament.

Notably, Mr Prosser has ruled out resigning, a view supported by his leader, who has said discipline will be in-house. The MP's reasoning has included this gem: "Every new job is a learning curve..."

Sorry, but making as monstrous and public an error of judgment as Mr Prosser has is not an acceptable part of the learning curve for someone elected to serve in Parliament. Such a high office carries a degree of responsibility far greater than attaches to most of us. He needs to go now.


The Timaru Herald