Clare Curran, wearing a Highlanders jersey, stands in
Parliament yesterday. Photo by TVNZ.
Dunedin South MP Clare Curran was yesterday removed from
Parliament for wearing a Highlanders rugby jersey, a move she
called an overreaction by Speaker Lockwood Smith.
Ms Curran told the Otago Daily Times she had checked the
dress standard for women MPs to enter the House and nowhere
was there any mention of not being able to wear a rugby
She was critical that Dr Smith would not take points of order
on the issue, including ones from Green Party co-leader
Metiria Turei, also of Dunedin, and Labour MP Trevor Mallard.
"For goodness sake, this is an overreaction," Ms Curran said.
After she left the House, she could hear debate raging about
whether or not she should have been allowed to remain.
Mrs Turei left the House under her own volition in support of
Ms Curran. Mrs Turei later posted on Twitter: "Sexism in the
House continues. Has [Labour MP] Ross Robertson ever been
scolded for his sports team scarves, let alone kicked out?
Asked why she had worn the jersey, Ms Curran said the issue
had become a major talking point for her constituents in
South Dunedin last week when it was revealed the Highlanders
would be adopting a new green strip.
"I started asking around why they were changing the the
uniform and I started to feel quite angry. This has become a
"The brand is important to the whole region, the team is
important to the whole region and the colours the team wear
are important to the whole region."
Rugby supporters in the South were committed to the team and
its uniform and it should not be changed just for a PR
branding exercise, she said.
Ms Curran also questioned the future of the franchise and
echoed the concerns of constituents that the change of
uniform could herald a move of the franchise to another
Dr Smith told Ms Curran that if a male MP entered the
debating chamber wearing a football or rugby top they would
be asked to leave. In the interest of fairness, the rules
should be consistent on either side.
He asked her to leave and return dressed appropriately,
"should she wish".
"It's all I'm asking. It's not a big call. This House has
certain dress standards," the Speaker said.
Ms Curran's removal from the chamber was supported by Mr
Mallard, who said it was a step towards equality, NZPA
"We've had in the past Ruth Richardson regularly in this
House in a tracksuit, and that was something which was
allowed because I think when the original rules were
developed, it wasn't contemplated that there would be women
members of Parliament."
He asked Dr Smith to look carefully at the issue of sports
attire, given that some MPs wore ties and badges supporting
Dr Smith said he had no objection to that but asked MPs to
He said the standards had been updated since Ms Richardson
was an MP, and women were now expected to wear business