CAN anyone explain the bizarre behaviour of the police? The officer in charge of the inquiry into the killing of Weymouth teenager John Hapeta went on radio on Wednesday to assure the people of South Auckland that there was no danger to public safety. Yet the TV news subsequently showed a clip of a uniformed cop at the crime scene toting what looked like a semi-automatic rifle.
If it was just another South Auckland street murder with no wider implications, why the firepower? Were the police expecting an armed attack, or was it just a gratuitous display of force to impress people? Your guess is as good as mine.
The police seem to lurch wildly between macho overkill (the Urewera “terrorist” raids, with all that ridiculous paramilitary paraphernalia) and excessive caution (holding everyone back at a “safe assembly point” while Navtej Singh lay bleeding to death on the floor of his Manurewa liquor store). There may be a consistent logic to their tactics, but it escapes me.
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JOHN KEY, in his speech on National’s benefits policy this week, had a dig at Labour for using euphemisms such as “social development” and “income support” – anything to avoid that wicked word “welfare”. National, he promised, would call a spade a spade.
Key could start by banning the use of the word “clients” for beneficiaries. A client is someone who pays for a service. “Client” in the context of welfare is a bullshit word designed to make beneficiaries feel better about themselves and take their minds off the discomforting fact that they're dependent on the taxpayer. It panders to that particularly pernicious form of political correctness that decrees we mustn’t use any term that might be construed as demeaning, even if in avoiding it we have to be downright dishonest.
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I’M SURPRISED more attention hasn’t been paid to the proposed national policy statement for renewable electricity generation, released this week by the Ministry for the Environment (fresh from the triumph of its Fruitgrowers Chemical Company remediation at Mapua, Nelson, which was the subject of a withering condemnation by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment).
The stated objective of the policy is to promote renewable electricity generation. But hang on, what’s this? “When considering proposals to develop new renewable electricity generation activities, decision-makers must have particular regard to the relative degree of reversibility of the adverse environmental effects associated with proposed generation technologies.”
What this appears to mean is that local authorities, when considering resource consents for new hydro dams, must take into account the fact that a hydro dam can’t be easily dismantled and taken away. So at the same time as the government claims to be encouraging renewable power generation, it’s placing yet another obstacle in the way of hydro development. According to the National Business Review, a spokeswoman for Energy Minister David Parker said this was intended to protect New Zealand's remaining rivers from exploitation.
This strikes me as having one foot hard on the accelerator while the other is firmly planted on the brake. But perhaps I’m missing something.
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JIM MORA, on his splendid afternoon programme on The Network Formerly Known as National Radio, referred this week to interesting political research emanating from the University of Southern California. It appears academics there have found that in times of uncertainty, swinging voters are most attracted to politicians with a clear ideological commitment. What they look for is plain speaking and firm opinions, not cautious middle-of-the-roadism. Could I suggest that the National Party write away for a copy of the findings?