Surely they have got better things to do with their time

The Nanny State looks like she could well outlive all of us.

The Department of Infernal Affairs (DIA) is once again rearing its ugly head and looks set to be a clear winner in the party- pooper stakes for 2012.

Not content with wrecking the harmless promotion of offering spot prizes of more than $500 for such nefarious activities as fishing contests and attending expos, the DIA continues to prove it will uphold the letter of the law, even if the letter in this particular case is D for Dickheads.

You may remember this crackdown came in response to a complaint from a South Auckland pokie machine trust. That was enough to capture the attention of our budding Elliot Nesses, who fired off warning letters to suspected offenders.

The department's latest foray into the lives of New Zealanders came in the lead- up to Tuesday's running of the Melbourne Cup.

That's the horse race that is invariably described as the one that "brings two nations to a standstill". It's also is an event that has saturation criminal offending, every bit as bad as those offering spot prizes.

These hard-core crims are the ones who organised the office sweepstakes for the race.

The DIA warned anybody who listened that the office sweepstake prize money could not exceed $500.

Anyone breaching the rules would be breaking the law and could be facing a fine of up to $1000.

Oh dear. That meant that tickets for the 24-horse race couldn't cost more than $20.83, according to an unnamed DIA spokesman. Any money raised had to be returned as prizes and no-one was allowed to profit from organising the sweepstake, which is what always happens with any sweepstake I've ever seen anyway.

And there was another set of rules regarding the prizes offered. Talk about turning something simple into something quite difficult!

Prohibited prizes included firearms, liquor, tobacco and vouchers for sex services.

Who could even come up with these lists? I have never seen anything other than money paid out as prizes for a sweepstake, but maybe a newsroom or a sports bar in Fitzroy are a bit tamer than we all thought.

Once again it is these armies of backroom bureaucrats who give governments a bad name. When, and if, John Key gets past his seemingly endemic gaffes, they could get their employees to relax a bit more and stop trying to protect us from ourselves.

And another entry from the files of don't-they-have-anything better-to-do - a few concerned citizens came out of the woodwork during the select committee hearing on National MP Todd McClay's bill to make it a criminal offence to wear gang insignia in government-owned premises.

Apart from the usual apologists, and Hone Harawira, who has inevitably deemed it "racist", this would be one bill an overwhelming majority of New Zealanders would welcome.

Gang patches have absolutely no place in schools, police stations and Work and Income offices, to name just a few. But earlier this week Law Society human rights and privacy spokesman Robert Hesketh told the committee insignia was too widely defined in the legislation and would capture clothing that was not intended to be intimidating.

The bill related not only to gang patches but coloured clothing which was associated with gangs.

Mr Hesketh also noted that the bill clashed with the Bill of Rights Act because it was inconsistent with the right to freedom of expression.

The society felt the bill should not progress beyond the select committee stage and at that stage the society parted company from the rest of us. Why does commonsense have to come a distant second to the perceived rights of a few losers?

The Bill of Rights is all too often trotted out at times like this. No-one has, or should have, the right to intimidate because of their appearance.

I'd be pleased for Mr Hesketh to be in a queue at Maccas in Porirua, a city which has some areas virtually ruled by gangs. Then tell us they are harmless souls merely exercising their right to freedom of expression.

And as for Hone, here's the list of gangs specifically mentioned in the bill:

Aotearoa Natives, Black Power, Devil's Henchmen, Filthy Few, Head Hunters, Hells Angels, Highway 61, Killerbeez, Magogs, Mongrel Mob, Mangu Kaha, Mothers, Nomads, Rebels, Road Knights, Satan's Slaves and the Tribesmen.

Could be he's worried about the Magogs being discriminated against because they are white.

Or, for his own version of the Tui billboard: Yeah White!

Taranaki Daily News