5 Feb – Molotov cocktails were thrown into Government minister Anne Tolley’s Whakatane office overnight and anti-TPPA graffiti was scrawled on a wall outside.
Police said Tolley’s office was under police guard following the attack, which comes at a time of high tensions over the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.
The attempted firebombing comes after vandals broke into Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee’s Christchurch office on Monday morning and poured fuel in a room before leaving.
“When the police tell you that it’s a pretty determined effort, it does shake you up a bit – they went to a lot of trouble to try and burn my office down, so it’s a bit scary, and pretty tough on the staff.”
“I think the police patrol caught it quite early on…if it had been on carpet or something that could have caught alight quickly.”
Tolley said she hadn’t expected any attacks on her office, with anti-TPPA marches in her electorate run in a “well-organised and well-contained” manner.
“Some people get quite aggressive when they’re talking to you, but generally people are quite reasonable – they’re passionate, but violence is an extreme reaction.”
The office would be closed over the weekend while police finished their work and damage was dealt with, Tolley said.
In a statement, Prime Minister John Key said he was disappointed by the attack.
“People always have the right to peaceful protest and are free to do so, as long as they don’t break the law or put anyone in harm’s way.
“Incidents like these are hugely disappointing because our MPs work incredibly hard for their communities as do the staff who work in their offices. They have a right to feel safe in their workplaces and I would urge people to respect that.”
The fire appeared to have happened overnight but had been reported to police soon after 7am, said Senior Sergeant Denton Grimes of the Bay of Plenty District Command Centre.
“From a police point of view it’s now determining what caused it and who is responsible, if it’s suspicious.”