Threats part of life for MPs and the famous - Judith Collins

Threats of violence against MPs are common says Judith Collins, a day after one of her colleagues was punched in the head.

James Shaw, co-leader of the Green Party, suffered a black eye after being attacked on the way to work.

"It goes a bit with the territory, if you're high-profile," the National MP told The AM Show on Friday.

Aside from the 2007 punch-up between National MP Tau Henare and Labour's Trevor Mallard, Collins said it's been "a while" since a Member of Parliament was physically attacked.

"If you go back a few years, quite a few years, Dail Jones was actually stabbed," said Collins, referring to an incident in 1980 in which a man obsessed with a parking ticket took it out on the National MP.

"Rick Barker's staff worker in Hastings was actually held hostage [in 1998]," she added.

Other incidents include:

  • a late night attack outside a bar on NZ First MP Brian Donnelly in 2002
  • mud being thrown at then-National leader Don Brash in 2004
  • former ACT MP John Banks getting doused in mud outside the Auckland High Court in 2014
  • attacks on electorate offices belonging to then-Prime Minister John Key, Mana leader Hone Harawira, and National's Anne Tolley
  • MP Nick Smith's caravan getting bombed with a Molotov cocktail in 2005
  • Labour MP Clare Curran receiving rape threats on her blog
  • Steven Joyce getting hit in the face with an airborne dildo.

"MPs get threats all the time - in fact, I had one yesterday," said Collins. "I'm not going to tell you what it is because it was nasty. The police have dealt with it pretty quickly."

She said the public have never been "horrible and rude" to her in person outside of an election campaign.

James Shaw.
James Shaw. Photo credit: Newshub Nation

She praised Shaw for not throwing a punch back at his assailant.

"He's a very gentle person. This is not the way he would operate."

Not just MPs who get threats

The AM Show sportsreader Mark Richardson said he too has been threatened by members of the public upset at his outspoken views.

"I had a death threat not so long ago, and it meant I had to park in certain areas and take security to the car and the like," he told Collins.

"I just think the world is full of dickheads. We can handwring as much as we like, but we'll never rid ourselves totally of them."

Mark Richardson.
Mark Richardson. Photo credit: The AM Show

Labour MP Kris Faafoi told The AM Show it's fine to disagree with someone but physically assaulting or threatening them is "beyond the pale".

"I hope it doesn't change anything. I think we pride ourselves that we are accessible... So I hope this is a oncer and we just get on with things."