Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Paying back the piper

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My first thought when I heard Metiria Turei’s bold confession about her transgressions as a solo mum was Jesus’ exhortation to the mob surrounding the woman caught in the act of adultery: ‘let anyone who is without sin among you cast the first stone.’

For instance didn’t Bill English once have to pay back a $32,000 housing allowance he had wrongly claimed on his million-dollar-plus Karori home?

Regrettably, for most people cheating on the government is a national pastime. Who hasn’t paid cash for a job knowing full well the recipient has no intention of declaring it? Or conversely how often have we received cash for a product or service that should be declared, but have remained shtum?

Admittedly in a cashless society with eftpos machines consuming the commercial world these opportunities have all but disappeared, nevertheless there is a general feeling abound that the governments money is there for the taking and no one really sees it as theft off fellow taxpayers.

However Ms Turei’s revelations deepened as the week wore on. It seemed the father of her child was well-known to the family, but not disclosed on the birth certificate and was therefore not made liable for deductions to be paid to the Internal Revenue Department. It was also thought that one of her flatmates was in fact her live-in partner. And amazingly during this time of ‘economic stress’ she stood for two political parties; first the McGillicuddy Serious Party and then the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis party.

When challenged about this by Guyon Espiner on National Radio she said beneficiaries are entitled to have fun.

She’s right of course, but if having fun includes smoking marijuana then it’s probably an expensive form of entertainment.

Anyway the Green Party is an ideal resting place for Ms Turei; they have a policy, not widely promulgated, to decriminalise marijuana.

At a ‘Meet the Candidates’ meeting a few years ago I asked the Wairarapa Green Party candidate at the time, Ms Sea Rotmann, about their near-secret policy of legalising cannabis. She said they weren’t going to legalise it, merely decriminalise it. (I was reminded of the American comedian who asked his audience what the difference was between unlawful and illegal? His punchline was that unlawful is against the law whereas illegal is a sick bird. - No, I didn’t laugh much either.)

But like it or not, the eventual decriminalisation of cannabis in New Zealand is a give-in with medical marijuana undoubtedly being used as a back door entry for recreational use.

The government, particularly via its District Health Boards, is making strenuous efforts to discourage and eventually eliminate tobacco smoking altogether and yet here is a product that is more carcinogenic and is now likely to come on stream with all of its potential medical and mental health outcomes.

This incredible step into iniquity has already happened in five U.S. states which is hardly likely to make America great again. The dimly lit neon caverns selling this ghastly product have rows of jars displaying a vast variety of cannabis heads that resemble brains in formalin.

These shops look like highways to hell.

Meanwhile Ms Turei has promised to pay back what she owes us all, presumably she will also pay the interest and the penalty interest which will be substantial.

She won’t be able to afford recreational cannabis for a while.

“Kids today are no sooner off the pot than they are back on it again.” - Stuart Francis

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