Published: Sat, March 16, 2019
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

James Shaw attack: New Zealand climate minister punched in face

James Shaw attack: New Zealand climate minister punched in face

Green Party's Marama Davidson has addressed media today after her co-leader James Shaw was allegedly attacked while walking to work this morning.

Mr Shaw has given them a detailed statement, and they are asking for any witnesses to come forward.

Shaw, 45, was walking to the Beehive from his home in Kelburn when he was confronted by a man who stepped out, spoke to him and identified him then hit him in the head, a spokesman for the Green Party told the Herald.

Wellington police said a 47-year-old man had been arrested following an assault by the Botanical Gardens, believed to be in relation to the attack on Shaw. He is set to appear in court on Friday and could face up to five years if prison.

After being checked by ambulance staff, the minister - reportedly left with a bruised eye and grazes - attended a meeting in parliament and then admitted himself to a hospital for assessment, a party spokesman said.

Whether the attack was politically motivated remains unclear.

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters said it was a "damn disgrace" and his sympathies went out to Shaw. The attacker seemed to recognize Shaw, he said, but the conversation was brief and somewhat random. The Speaker of the House has granted him compassionate leave from Parliament.

Political violence is practically unheard of in New Zealand, a nation of about 4.5 million where most government ministers do not have a regular security detail. I understand their quick actions assisted in the arrest.

"My thoughts are with James and also [his partner] Annabel".

"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", Ardern said this afternoon.

"We have an environment in New Zealand where politicians are accessible, and that's something we should feel proud of", she told reporters. We are after all, here to serve people.

"I would like to acknowledge the members of the public who quickly came to Minister Shaw's assistance".

"Typically he just wanted to keep working, but it's really important that he's resting today at the very least".

Members of parliament from across the political spectrum on Thursday expressed both their dismay at the incident and a hope it would not spur a change in public access.

Only the Prime Minister and acting prime ministers are afforded round-the-clock armed protection from the Diplomatic Protection Service.

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