'I'm sorry for being a man' - Cunliffe

David Cunliffe
David Cunliffe
Labour leader David Cunliffe says he's sorry that he's a man because men commit most family violence.

He told a Women's Refuge forum in Auckland today that Labour would put an extra $15 million a year into refuges and other groups supporting the victims of family violence. But he started his speech with an apology.

"Can I begin by saying I'm sorry," he said.

"I don't often say it. I'm sorry for being a man right now, because family and sexual violence is perpetrated overwhelmingly by men against women and children.

"So the first message to the men out there is: wake up, stand up and man up and stop this bullshit!"

His message went down well with the overwhelmingly female audience. One woman came up to him as he left and said she had moved away from Labour but his speech had won her vote back.

Refuge chief executive Heather Henare said Labour had consulted her about its policy, unlike the National Government which announced its own policy on family violence this week without consulting Refuge.

"David Cunliffe's speech was, I have to say, inspiring," she said.

She said National cut Refuge's baseline funding by $700,000 in 2011 and had never restored it, although "one-off" grants for training and other extras had raised the movement's total funding from $6.2 million in 2008 to $9.2 million today.

"That might include a position in Timbuktu to write a children's programme, it's not an effective use of money," she said.

Mr Cunliffe promised an "action plan to eliminate violence against women and children" that would be led by the Prime Minister's Department.

Labour's policy also includes a promise to let the Law Commission finish its work on alternative trial mechanisms for sexual cases, which Justice Minister

Judith Collins put on hold after she took over the portfolio three years ago.

Labour said it would consider:

• Changes cross-examination rules to ensure that victims of sexual cases were not "put on trial".
• Allowing complainants in sexual offence cases to adopt alternative trial processes such as restorative justice.
• Specialist courts to hear sexual violence cases.
• Changing the definition of consent in cases of sexual violation so that it doesn't impose "an unfair burden" on victims.

Mrs Collins and Social Development Minister Paula Bennett dismissed Labour's policy as "just smoke and mirrors".

"Their big initiative is to have family violence led by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. This will come as no comfort to the victims of family violence," they said.

"We need to focus on the victims and on prevention services that actually work."

Well said...

GW_Scam, if Cunliffe had said what you wrote: "I have to say that - no I am not sorry I am a man, but I am beginning to be ashamed I am a Male New Zealander" then his speech would have been much better.

I've not heard anyone disagree about most violence coming from men. It is the association of all men by being sorry for being a man that gets some folks annoyed.

I don't think it would be just men that support National that would not be too happy about what he said either.

No apology

NZ has an appalling record of domestic violence but for every man who has never raised his hand to anyone to apologise for the crimes of others is ridiculous. How about the courts apologise for not protecting women by handing down sentences which reflect the seriousness of the crime? Law makers and politicians apologising for not passing laws which see those found guilty of this gutless crime sent to prison for very long periods of time. Perhaps the Police should apologise for the multitude of times they have not taken victims of domestic violence seriously enough? I am one man who is not prepared to apologise for those cowardly men who choose to abuse their wives and children.

Neither a blind eye or one eyed

One certainty in life is not to assume who supports which political party just by reading a comment on a particular utterance by a politician. Nor is it wise to assume that "thinking voters" are Labour supporters.

The context of what Cunlife said was not what I was getting at and indeed family violence is a very important topic.

What Cunlife said detracted from the importance. He may well have an important message (I haven't heard any of the other leaders say that it isn't important too) however the sound bite ruined that. He may well have mentioned bringing back Haast's Eagle.

I've talked to some blokes that were annoyed that Cunliffe has lumped all men in with the violent ones.

Don't worry, if John Key had said equally as stupid comments then I'd have the same opinion as stated.

Cunliffe should be embarrassed

#House is right. David Cunliffe's attempt at connecting with his audience, while no doubt effective, sets a bad precedent. Am I responsible for the wrongs of my fellow men who cowardly attack women? I certainly don't think so.

Just because I can be grouped in with a certain population doesn't mean I'm in any way responsible for the actions of others in that broader group. I enjoy recreational fishing. Am I to be blamed or depleting the fishing stocks when I take home a few fish from time to time, or is it really the commerical fishing, who clean out an entire 50 tonne school of fish in one net? Or perhaps I'm partly to blame for the deaths of Maui's Dolphins!

Of course my example is silly, but there's a point to it. There's an important difference with my example above in that I chose to go out fishing. I didn't choose to be male. It's not my fault. I'm not sorry for being a man as it was out of my control, just as it was for David Cunliffe. If Mr Cunliffe is sorry for being a man, then he should be very sorry for being a human, as we're collectively responsible for all manner of atrosities.

Falsely identifying yourself as a member of the underclass, the criminal, the bad, etc. is a cheap shot. Yes his audience loved it, but there's a reason people don't often say this sort of thing. It's pretentious.

Making a joke of domestic violence

I have to say Cunliffe's words are beginning to take on a real strength as National MPs and supporters line up to mock him, incredibly the vast majority being males themselves (as I am).

I am not a Labour supporter, and never have been, and unlikely to vote for them this election. However, I am someone who sees sometimes first hand in my work the effects of domestic violence, unfortunately usually inflicted by men.

Having read accounts of people who were at the forum on Domestic Violence that Cunliffe spoke at, they all said unanimously his speech was one of the most touching and empowering speeches they had ever heard. Yet what does the Nat Pack and much of the media do? They take one quote, at least partially out of context, and make jokes of it over and over again.

I have to say I believe it is more a reflection of how they view domestic violence than how they view his comment. They seem to think it is nothing really, just a few 'hippies and left wingers' complaining about a bit of nonsense.

After seeing the Nat Fanatics comments after comments, belittling the huge problem we have with domestic violence, I have to say that - no I am not sorry I am a man, but I am beginning to be ashamed I am a Male New Zealander.

Turning a blind eye to violence?

house: Oh dear oh dear. How thin-skinned National supporters are becoming! Thinking voters (Labour) clearly understand the context within David's words were spoken. His audience also understood them. So why can't National supporters ? Perhaps just a lack of understanding of the amount of family violence in NZ society, or being told to just turn a blind eye by dear John?

I'm sorry Cunlife is a man too

Looks like Labour is taking its cues from the Democrats in the USA: Apologise for everything and bring to light a so called "war on women".

Next will be more about poverty, inequality and narrowing the so called wage gap between men and women.

I think this tactic and the "apology" for being a "man" will backfire on Cunlife and Labour as it just isn't sincere and most people will see it for the electioneering that it is. Indeed, when I heard what he said and the way it was said it made me cringe.

Also, Cunlife has lumped the bad men in with good. He has insulted the good blokes out there at the same time as failing in the worthy cause of highlighting the cause of the victims. [abridged]

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