Queensland senator Fraser Anning isn’t the only politician to get attacked this month: James Shaw of the New Zealand Green’s Party was grabbed and punched in the face on his way to work on the morning of March 14th. But where Anning’s egging was arguably deserved, the same can’t be said for Shaw.
According to a spokesperson from the Green party, the attack – which is believed to have left Shaw with a fractured eye-socket – was unprovoked. The assailant was reported to have “shout[ed] things about the United Nations” as he assaulted Shaw, but it remains unclear what his precise motivations were. Two passer-bys assisted Shaw after the incident by calling for an ambulance. Shaw publicly thanked them in a video on his Twitter a day later – albeit with a black eye.
Prime Minister Jacinda Arden said the event showed accessibility of politicians is something New Zealand should feel proud of but that “we cannot take that for granted”. “I think all of us will probably be united in wanting to ensure we have the kind of political environment where everyone can hold their views, but they can do that safely,” she said.
Following the incident, a 47-year-old Wainuiomata man was arrested. He appeared before the Wellington District Court under name suppression, and was charged with injuring with intent to injure. He was remanded (let out on bail) without plea for two weeks, on the condition that he continues to live in Wainuiomata, avoids associating with James Shaw, does not journey further south than the Ngauranga Gorge in Wellington, and does not act violently towards any other persons. The assailant was reported to have waved towards supporters at the back of the courtroom as he left.
Various MPs have shown support for Shaw, with Leader of Opposition Simon bridges and National MP Paula Bennett both condemning the act of violence against a politician. Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters called the act “a damn disgrace”.