I was 13 years old when I joined my first protest march.
Gathering with thousands of others on a cold August morning in Christchurch, I marched down Colombo Street, over the overbridge, and down Moorhouse Ave to Lancaster Park where the Springboks were about to play the first test against the All Blacks in the infamous 1981 tour.
The day is a bit of a blur to be honest, although I remember being terrified by the police in their riot gear. I also remember being roundly abused by some very drunk patrons outside a number of pubs en route to the ground.
I also remember how the Tour split friendships, families, couples, and schoolmates. You were either Pro Tour or you were Anti Tour. Whose side were you on?
Well, everyone except John Key, of course. He can't remember what he felt about this seminal event in our nation's history. Presumably he had something more important on.
As a generally law-abiding and careful motorist who's been driving for 30 years with little more than a couple of fender-benders and two speeding fines in that entire time, I'm starting to feel like the police have me in their sights.
First it was the lowering of the drink-drive limit from 80mg to 50 despite a woeful lack of evidence that it will do anything to lower the road toll - or indeed that drivers in that range even cause many accidents (see my Sunday Star-Times column for more on why I believe the policy is flawed and this news story on how the crash statistics have been manipulated)
Now, police want to lower the tolerance for "speeding'' - or going faster than the posted limit - to just 4 kmh for an entire two-month period.
Motorists put up with this imposition on long weekends and public holidays because it's a special event, they know the police are going to be out in force during public holiday periods, and, who knows, maybe it even works for a short period of time (more about that in a minute).
But there's a big difference between imposing the restriction for a day or two and for 61 consecutive days throughout December and January - and the police are not ruling out the new rule becoming permanent.
Prime Minister John Key generally has a good political radar.
He has that ability necessary in all leaders to sniff the wind; to judge public sentiment and to gauge what is acceptable to most people and what is not.
Such judgment isn't always about what is legally right and wrong, or about rules or procedures. It's about "natural justice" - fairness, if you like. And spotting issues that upset people and issues that don't.
No-one gets it right all the time, however, and Key has spectacularly failed in the case of the families of the Pike River 29. Cabinet's decision not to pay a measly $3 million in compensation to those who lost their men in the West Coast mine explosion in 2010 is nothing short of astounding.
Actually, it's more than astounding. It's a gross insult to the families and an admission that the Government really hasn't learned that much from the whole tragedy.
Oh to be a fly on the wall at the cop shop this morning. Some rather heated words will no doubt be exchanged, particularly between Police Commissioner Peter Marshall and Waitemata Police District Commander Bill Searle.
Having just received a flogging from Police Minister Anne Tolley - or as close as the law allows these days - Marshall will now be demanding answers from his own staff about the way this whole "Roast Busters'' saga was handled.
Questions Marshall, like the rest of us, will no doubt be asking Searle and his staff include why the rape allegations made against the young men in question were not escalated, whether the complainants were taken seriously enough, whether the conduct of the officers who made the initial inquiries was appropriate, why the inquiry team did not close down the vile Facebook page run by the young men, and whether the police really have learned anything since the Louise Nicholas affair and the commission of inquiry that followed.
Marshall might also inquire, and not all that politely, why the hell Searle and his team told the public that none of the girls had been "brave enough'' to lay complaints - when it has now come to light that no fewer than four of the girls did so.
When approached by TV3 with this bombshell just before 5pm yesterday afternoon, police reportedly said they couldn't comment as it was too late in the day. Then there was some brief dancing around the head of a pin over whether or not the girls' complaints constituted "formal'' complaints or not before Searle finally capitulated and apologised on breakfast television this morning.
My, how time flies. It seems like only yesterday I was last writing about Winston Peters' bottom lines.
I hasten to add I'm referring to the so-called conditions under which the NZ First leader would enter into a coalition agreement - not any wrinkling on his derriere. Although given that Peters appears ageless, it's probably as smooth as the proverbial baby's.
Peters has a long history of issuing major demands for a minor party (not that he has ever considered himself a minor party leader). They're usually a little more elastic when push comes to shove, though Peters normally manages to claim that whatever he got was what he wanted all along.
Not that Peters has failed to extract major concessions in the past. If you compare some of his wins - the costly and patently ageist Super Gold Card in particular - with the risible "wins'' obtained by other minor party coalition partners since the advent of MMP (generally a promise to review something), you'd have to concede he's been pretty successful.
But his latest bottom line is going to take some beating. Peters wants to essentially nationlise the KiwiSaver industry, which he calls "a $22 billion gravy train''.
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