'My parents faced tanks for democracy': The Greens' new activist MPs

  • 15/11/2017

The Green Party's two new Members of Parliament want to bring activism into politics.

Maiden speeches typically set the tone for a politician's career in Parliament. For Golriz Ghahraman, New Zealand's first refugee MP, and Chloe Swarbrick, the youngest MP in 42 years, that means calling for change.

"I am a child of revolutionaries," Ms Ghahrahman said, looking up at her parents in the gallery above. "My parents faced tanks for democracy."

She said she remembered bombs, the sounds of sirens and the children who stopped speaking because of the shellshock. She was nine when her family fled to New Zealand seeking asylum. 

Ms Ghahraham said her first memory of her "homeland" is the "warm welcome" they received when they arrived. The second is how green New Zealand is.

Those two memories will lead her in the House, she said.

Ms Swarbrick used her speech to call for people to look more critically at the world. If something isn't fair and just, "Ask who pays for that injustice," she said. 

Ms Swarbrick said protest is a "legitimate means to achieve tangible, meaningful outcomes".

"Change doesn't often come from the top. Change most frequently comes in the form of a groundswell by the people for the people," she said.

"I am here to show people that politicians can look a little different, can speak a little different, can do things a little differently," she said.

"[And] to drive home the message that politicians work for people and the mind-boggling notion that politicians are people too."