Common sense breaks out but sadly 'tis a fleeting thing

IN HIS OWN WRITE

GORDON BROWN
Last updated 05:05 23/02/2013

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Let's hear it for Chester Borrows!

It's good to see a Taranaki MP making news for all the right reasons and as associate social development minister he has certainly been responsible for creating a few headlines this week.

Introducing a change to the law to make partners of welfare cheats liable for prosecution makes excellent sense, but naturally it's received the usual criticism from the lefties.

A new offence will be created to target partners or spouses of beneficiaries who are convicted of fraud, and rightly so.

I'd challenge anyone to sit in court for a day when a succession of welfare ripoff merchants face the consequences of their actions. Often the defendants are women who failed to declare they were living in de-facto relationships. When the full facts emerge it is clear that the scumbag men they live with have put them up to it, or at least actively encouraged it. They get off scot free, leaving judges to lament that they do not have the power to punish them.

That is exactly the loophole that Chester is fixing, and his political opponents can brand it beneficiary bashing all they like, but the reality is it is theft of our money and the current law is inadequate to deal with the parasites who are often behind it.

They enjoy the benefits of the benefit (which is why it is called that) and are happy to leave their women to face the consequences, knowing they will often get a lighter sentence because they have children.

It was all part of the last week in which some common sense broke out, albeit briefly.

The much-anticipated investigation into the SkyCity Convention Centre by the auditor-general's office was published a mere eight months after deputy auditor-general Phillippa Smith began her probe.

The Greens laid a complaint with the office, which incredibly has the power to bring the whole process to a halt. It did, for eight months, as Ms Smith dawdled her way through the proceedings to see if the complaint from Green co-leader Metiria Turei had any substance.

The report found there was none, but in typical fashion, Ms Turei, a prominent member of the Those Who Know Better brigade, began to disagree with the findings of the independent report that she insisted on.

Let's strip it all down. As prime minister and minister of tourism, John Key wanted a national convention centre in Auckland big enough to cater for thousands of delegates. Without one we were missing out on some big bucks. Several entities came forward with expressions of interest. Only one, SkyCity, could put up their own money.

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The others, including Ngati Whatua and several iwi interests, wanted the Government to stump up with most of the cash and they would pay it back from the future profits generated by the centre.

Sky had $350 million set aside. In return they wanted an extra 500 (now 300) pokie machines.

Key thought that was a good deal, because the Government had no money. So he pursued it.

It's no different from you wanting to sell your house and you get five conditional offers, only one of which is a cash offer, at the price you wanted. That's the end of the negotiations and you do the deal. Except for those like Ms Turei, who lives in a different world.

Who knows, the Noble Gentleman on My Left may agree with me on this one. (Readers, please look out your windows right now and see if you can see any pigs flying past).

The deputy auditor-general can hum and ha as much as she likes about process; Key did the right thing for the country. Incidentally, it mirrors the deal Sky did with the South Australian government in extending their casino over there. Except in that deal, the opposition agreed with the Government and voted for it because it was good for their state.

Good heavens. Could that happen here? Sadly, the short answer is no.

Meanwhile, in yet another example of why bail laws need to change, an Auckland man had every bone in his face broken, spent three weeks in a coma and suffered serious brain damage after he was assaulted in an unprovoked attack - allegedly by men who were on bail and facing charges for violent offending.

Guess how his family felt when they found out the men were out on bail despite facing similar serious charges?

But if that wasn't bad enough, two of the three men arrested soon after were again given bail, one of them after an appeal to the High Court.

The victim was beaten so badly, surgeons thought he must have been in a car crash. He is still in hospital. When will this judicial madness end?

- Taranaki Daily News

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