Cronyism fails Collins, but no relief for ACC claimants

The Nats usually look after their own. Hey, they defended Bill English’s housing rort until it became politically indefensible, and he “voluntarily” surrendered his allowance as a purported out-of-Wellington MP.

So you would expect the Nats to be rushing to back up Judith Collins’ defamation suit against Radio NZ and two Labour MPs with some public money.  And all the speculation over the last few days is that they would.

Nek minnit, it is revealed Collins didn’t even apply to Cabinet for funding.

The Cabinet Manual requires that Ministers discuss public funding of legal action with the PM before approaching Cabinet.

My bet is that Key told Collins “no way”. And not out of some concern about public funding of what appears to be a private lawsuit, but because Collins is in the wrong Nat faction. She is ambitious, and she would like Key’s job, which Key would obviously like to keep, just for a little while at least, until he is assured of a significant place in history.

Then we have the backroom players: Michelle Boag and Bronwyn Pullar on Key’s side; and Cameron Slater and Simon Lusk on Collins’ side. And poor old Nick Smith gets caught in the crossfire for inappropriately taking sides.

It is a grand political game, worthy of the English landed gentry (anyone want their moat cleaned?)

But aren’t we forgetting some people here? While the various inquiries circle around which Minister or which ACC official may have done something wrong, no inquiry is being launched into the plight of the ACC claimants who have been wronged by the pernicious, and arguably unlawful, policies of ACC that are designed to deny them cover and entitlements.

While other parties close their ears and play the political games, only the Green Party considers the plight of wronged ACC claimants to also be a political issue.


Get back in your box, Judith

Lloyd’s List’s Last Word opines:

DON’T you get heartily sick of namby-pamby, bleeding-heart liberals and their stick-in-the-mud notion that containers are primarily a means of shifting cargo between world ports, rather than keeping criminals under lock and key?

Last Word understands that in New Zealand, Judith Collins — a politician who, we understand, rejoices in the title of corrections minister, which probably isn’t as saucy as it sounds — is planning to bang up cons in Rimutaka Prison in surplus boxes.

A new unit will provide beds for 60 inmates at a cost of NZ$63,000 ($43,000), which is substantially less than conventional prison accommodation.

Ms Collins is looking to cut costs further in future and is considering proposals to make prisoners do the conversion work themselves.

But hand-wringing do-gooders such as Peter Williams, president of the Howard League for Penal Reform, has blasted the scheme as bringing about “tin shanties and slum prisons”.

He has even called for them to be air-conditioned in summer and heated in winter. What does he think prison is — a holiday camp?

The move has also been slammed by Maritime Union of New Zealand general secretary Trevor Hanson, who says: “New Zealanders needs secure jobs, not jail cells.”

We at Lloyd’s List can have no truck with such social worker sentiment. Given that containers are regarded as the last word in luxury by stowaways, they are more than good enough for Kiwi crims, especially if container lessors can flog worn-out units to the New Zealand government at suitably inflated prices.

Judith Collins is off to Gdansk, one of Europe’s largest ports, next week, ostensibly in her capacity as Veterans’ Affairs Minister to attend commemorations to mark the 70th anniversary of the start of World War II.

But given that Collins is also Corrections Minister, this seems too good an opportunity for her to pass by.

What’s the bet she will also be hanging around Gdansk’s port looking for a cheap deal on some of these:

F*** da Police

Maintenance of public safety should be the highest policing priority, and speed on our roads is one of the greatest threats to public safety. The Police have done a great job in recent years getting our road toll down. Now it seems their capacity to continue to improve road safety is threatened.

The Southland Times reports:

New Zealand Police have begun removing speed detection radars from vehicles throughout the country in what frontline officers say is a cost-cutting measure that could also cost lives.

A police national headquarters spokeswoman confirmed yesterday that some radars had been removed from vehicles, as part of a “replacement programme”…

Frontline officers told The Southland Times they had been told up to 400 Stalker detection units, which are leased, were to be removed from police vehicles as part of efforts to cut $21 million from the police operating budget.

They said officers using vehicles from which the radar sets had been removed were trying to do their jobs without them and they feared many speeding motorists would now escape without penalty.

And in a follow up article:

Like hardened speedsters avoiding radar traps, police dodged and evaded yesterday when questioned about the number of speed detection radar sets they are removing from patrol cars throughout the country, and why it is being done.

Frontline officers said they believed the sets were leased from a United States manufacturer and were being removed and sent back as a cost-cutting measure, part of a programme to shed $21 million from the Police budget.

However, national police headquarters would not even confirm yesterday that the sets were leased.

Police have acknowledged that Stalker radars are being removed from some cars as part of a “replacement and maintenance programme” but refused again yesterday to provide details on the numbers being removed, or whether all were to be replaced.

Why the evasiveness? Successive Police Ministers have often used the “operational independence” of the Police to avoid answering questions about Police operational matters. Now we see the Police themselves avoiding answering questions about operational matters that should be very easy for them to answer.

This comes on top of the NZ Herald revealing that over 300 fewer Police patrol cars may be on the roads as a result of cost-cutting measures. Police Commissioner Howard Broad refused to comment on that one too.

There is a distinct whiff of political interference in the Police refusal to give straight answers. Not a good look.

Someone has to be accountable, be it Commissioner Broad or Minister Judith Collins.