Bullying is not a new phenomena in New Zealand. To have an ongoing discussion about bullying I think it is necessary to lay down a few benchmarks that we can measure actions against so that we can have a definition of bullying. Bullying is the use of power imbalances by one person (or an organisation) against others either singularly or collectively. So let us look at a contemporary example. Paula Bennett a government minister released the personal details of two women, who protested about changes to benefit structures in New Zealand. This involved a use of power (some would say abuse). She accessed their personal information to make a political point. This is a classic example of power imbalance. Would Minister Bennett allow those women access to her own information that the MSD holds? Would she afford them the same platform to examine her life? The answer was a resounding no.
The second point about this particular instance is the intent of the ministers actions. Bennett maintains it was about providing an informed public debate. Could she have done this without identifying the two woman publicly? Without a doubt yes. There are a couple of conclusions that may be drawn as to why the minister took this approach. One of these is that Bennett was angry that her policy appeared to be a double standard abolishing a benefit that she had received some significant personal gain from. Another conclusion could be that it was to serve a warning to people who dared to protest about government policies. You can make your own mind up about that which you believe, I know what I think.