NZ First MPs are privately seething at Richard Prosser's call for Muslims to be banned from Western airlines.
The list MP went to ground yesterday after his remarks were widely publicised and provoked controversy. NZ First leader Winston Peters has refused to sack him and says he doesn't have to apologise.
But outraged Muslim leaders said recent overtures Mr Peters and NZ First have made to their community are now meaningless.
A NZ First source said its MPs were furious and believed Mr Prosser "acted like a stupid idiot".
Mr Prosser, 45, penned a provocative column for Investigate magazine entitled "Enemy of the State", after his pocket penknife was confiscated at Christchurch Airport. "If you are a young male, aged between, say, about 19 and about 35, and you're a Muslim, or you look like a Muslim, or you come from a Muslim country, then you are not welcome to travel on any of the West's airlines . . ." he wrote.
He also made reference to "a sorry pack of misogynist troglodytes from Wogistan".
In a later interview he stood by his views and went on to say that an Israeli airline that bans Muslims is one of the world's safest carriers.
Mr Peters later issued a statement saying his Waimakariri-based MP "wrongfully impugned millions of law-abiding, peaceful Muslims".
But there will be no apology from NZ First or Mr Prosser, a reiki [technique for stress reduction] master and former irrigation worker, who polled just 538 votes at the election.
"We are a mature party, we don't go round telling people off. After a rational discussion he has changed his mind," Mr Peters said. ". . . We can't take it any further than that. He's had a chance to reflect . . . he admits it was unbalanced."
Despite Mr Peters' denials on various media yesterday, Mr Prosser's view on Muslims does nothing to dispel the widely-held view that NZ First is essentially xenophobic in its policies. Peters himself has a long history of anti-immigration rhetoric, dating back to his infamous speech in Howick in 1996. And as Patrick Gower notes in the article in this link, Peters himself had a go at Muslims in 2005. For Peters to now say that Prosser made a "mistake" is disingenuous.
And independent MP Brendan Horan must be chuckling at the irony of Mr Peters saying "we don't go round telling people off". Peters acted in haste to excise Horan from the NZF caucus, yet to date there has been little found that would support Peters' judge/jury/executioner stance. With Richard Prosser, Winston has been more like the retiring Pope Benedict XVI.
That NZ First scratches an ugly itch in New Zealand is unfortunate, but it is a reality. Little wonder that the NZF caucus is angry; their collective livelihoods post November 2014 are once again on the line.