‘State-sponsored cruelty’ or the ‘least worst option’? Not a great week for the Government as the MIQ lottery system is found to be unjustified in a hefty High Court decision.
There was a notable first in New Zealand news this week. It was the first time in our history that the phrase ‘Kiwis Win’ in a news headline hasn’t referred to sporting success. In this case the full headline was ‘Grounded Kiwis Win Fight Against MIQ’. However, the fight isn’t won just yet. Reverting to the sportingspeak in which all significant New Zealand news events are best analysed and understood, the final hooter hasn’t sounded, there could be extra time and/or a super over, and in any event it’s just the first test in a possible three match series.
An even better way of putting it is that the Government has received a standing eight count having been grounded and pounded by a 140-page High Court decision that concluded that the MIQ lottery system was “not demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society”. And, yes, I’m aware that I have mixed my boxing and MMA metaphors there. And, no, you can’t ask for a TMO review as to whether we do, in fact, live in a free and democratic society. The proposition that the High Court ruling that the MIQ lottery system was not demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society proves we don’t live in a free and democratic society is an unplayable philosophical googly.
Characterising the MIQ lottery system as the least worst option available was itself probably the least worst option available.
Because the MIQ system has already been canned, pulled from the field before it could be red-carded, many punters have been left wondering what the practical effect of the decision is. Well, there is at least one definitive outcome from the stumping of the MIQ lottery. Although I haven’t read all, or indeed any, of Justice Mallon’s 140-page decision, my understanding is that the next time Jacinda Ardern travels overseas she won’t be allowed back into the country unless she can successfully predict that week’s Lotto numbers.
In the meantime the Government has to decide whether to appeal the High Court’s decision to the helpfully named Court of Appeal. My guess is that they won’t – there’s little point in risking another loss, and there’s no prospect of overturning a trouncing in the court of public opinion. Time to pull out the Steve Hansen playbook I reckon – flush the dunny and move on. But not before fronting up to the loss at the post-match media conference. And as we all know there can’t be any fault lines between the players and the coaching staff in front of the cameras, everyone has to sing from the same song sheet. That’s why Deputy PM Grant Robertson said the MIQ lottery system was “the least worst option” and Covid Response Minister Chris Hipkins said the MIQ lottery system was – checks notes – “the least worst option”. To be fair, characterising the MIQ lottery system as the least worst option available was itself probably the least worst option available.
One of the primary consequences of inflation is that it inflates the confidence of the opposition to blame the government for the inflation.
Across the aisle, Team Blue had a full quiver of options available to fire at Team Red with their defences down. Chris Bishop hit the bullseye, labelling the judicially junked MIQ system “state-sponsored cruelty”. I suspect that alliterative catchphrase won’t be flushed from the public consciousness too easily.
In fact, it was a bit of a turkey shoot week for Team Blue with easy targets all over the place. For starters there’s inflation, up to 6.9 percent in the year to the March quarter. That’s a 30-year high meaning there are many Kiwis who are experiencing this scale of inflation for the first time. For those, the simplest way of explaining inflation is that it’s when the cost of everything, except what you earn, goes up, by a lot. One of the primary consequences of inflation is that it inflates the confidence of the opposition to blame the government for the inflation. Team Blue leader Chris Luxon said that uncontrolled government spending was the cause of the inflation, which wasn’t exactly a bullseye but was at least an improvement on the shot he took to the foot last week in floating, and then sinking, the idea of cancelling the Labour Day public holiday.
“…there’s no prospect of overturning a trouncing in the court of public opinion. Time to pull out the Steve Hansen playbook I reckon – flush the dunny and move on.”
Inflation isn’t the only thing that’s up to near historic levels, so are ram raids. And this gave Team Blue the opportunity to taunt Team Red this week with one of Team Blue’s all-time favourite chants – “soft on crime, soft on crime, soft on crime all the time”. Of course “soft on crime” isn’t just the favourite chant of NZ’s Team Blue it’s the favourite team red taunting chant of every team blue the world over, and has been ever since Alexander the Great started granting mass pardons during the siege of Tyre in 332BC.
Blue teams have never been soft on crime. They’re always tough on crime and they know just how to solve it, with extensive periods of managed isolation for those responsible. They also know that policy won’t deter all crime but it’s the least worst option available. Just as long as it doesn’t cross over the line into state-sponsored cruelty.
Have a peaceful weekend.