Monday, 7 January 2008

National starts sniping

First there was the row over the supply of 32 LCD televisions to New Zealand prisons (1). Never mind that LCD models were cheap and replacing existing units, not new provision. Or that the LCD models are less amenable to being turned into weapons in riots - the idea of prisons being equipped with modern equipment provoked predictable slavering from the right:
Mr Power yesterday claimed the purchases reinforced concerns that life in the prison system was creating a mentality of idleness.

Authorities should be concentrating on providing services to help ensure inmates do not return to prison once released, he said.

"Perhaps if Corrections spent more time getting prisoners into work or training or rehabilitation in preparation for release, they would be making greater inroads into the recidivism rate." (2)
Could this be a hint at that rarest of things, a National's policy? Does it herald a return of treadmills and slopping out? Or is it just a predictable and pointless attempt to discomfort the government in election year? The imputation is that Labour are soft on criminals, sof ton crime ... It will play very well in Talkbackland, unfortunately, so expect more of it.

And Pansy Wong also got in on the act (3), when it was revealed that ACC were paying for a prisoner to have his ear - ripped off by a police dog during his arrest - reconstructed at a cost of $20,000:
The National Party has expressed its disbelief at the notion that ACC could fund this "cosmetic" job.

National's ACC spokeswoman Nancy Wong said it is a disgrace. She said she regularly receives calls from disgruntled people who are not getting surgery because ACC will not pay for it.

Pansy Wong said the decision does nothing to help ACC's image. (4)
Which suggests 2008 is going to be a very long, and not very edifying election campaign. And that National will continue making ugly faces and hoping that they can inflict a death by a thousand cuts on Labour as they still can't think of a single positive reason why people should vote for them.

National, of course, long to privatise ACC, but probably lack the courage to declare the intention (5). So in the meantime, they'll take every opportunity to belly-ace and bag ACC, hoping to be able to claim support for privatisation in a second term.
1 - 'Thousands spent on high-tech TV sets for prisoners,' by David Eames in the New Zealand Herald, 3rd of January, 2008. (
2 - ibid.
3 - 'ACC to replace ear torn off by police dog,' unattributed article in the NZ Herald, 6th of January 2007. (
4 - ibid.
5 - See The Hollow Men, page 246: "the party [National] was known to be intending, if elected, to privatise the Accident Compensation Commission."

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