Isaac Davison

Isaac Davison is a NZ Herald political reporter.

She's back - return of the Nanny State

National used to hammer Labour for running people's lives - now it does too

The Opposition has accused Social Development Minister Paula Bennett of reaching too far into poorer families' lives. Photo / NZ Herald
The Opposition has accused Social Development Minister Paula Bennett of reaching too far into poorer families' lives. Photo / NZ Herald

The last Labour Government was ousted amid cries of "Nanny State". Five years on, the National-led Government has been accused of intruding on Kiwis' back lawns by proposing fines for people who do not fence off permanent paddling pools.

"The notion that neighbours and council inspectors will peer over fences into little Johnny's paddling pool this summer is ridiculous," said Labour's building and construction spokesman, Shane Jones.

Mr Jones was Building Minister when Labour proposed restrictions on the size of shower heads and incandescent light bulbs as part of a drive to save energy - policies which contributed to his party's election loss.

"I copped it, and fair enough," Mr Jones said. "But that was about energy conservation ... this is just bureaucratic creep. It's the Para Rubber police."

Labour also passed anti-smacking legislation, introduced micro-chipping for dogs, and banned pies and other unhealthy food from school tuckshops.

But Mr Jones believes National is now over-reaching more than Labour.

It has passed or proposed regulations which limit the way Kiwis can drive, shop, drink, smoke, fish or hunt. It is no longer possible to buy beer or wine in a dairy and, from next month, a convenience store. It will soon be illegal to buy drinks in a bottle store after 11pm, and in a bar after 4am. National has made it much harder to get hold of effective cold and flu treatment by requiring people to get a prescription for medicine which contains pseudoephedrine, a precursor drug for P.

In its five years in charge, the National-led Government has also rejected several more restrictive policies, including mandatory lifejacket use, adding folic acid to bread, and banning smoking on beaches.

Political commentator Bryce Edwards believes National's "light-bulb policy" was its ban on cellphone use in cars in 2009.

"It's the ultimate ... It certainly went against the traditional National philosophy of the state not being too concerned with how individuals carry out their daily business."

Dr Edwards said it was arguably more damning when Nanny State rules were the work of a conservative government which preached the importance of personal responsibility.

"National campaigned hard using that term Nanny State, so it is incredibly ironic to see so many policy innovations that might also be in that category."

The Opposition has singled out Social Development Minister Paula Bennett, accusing her of reaching too far into poorer families' lives.

Her reforms meant beneficiaries had to enrol their children in early childhood education or risk losing their benefit - effectively removing their choice on educating their kids.

Mrs Bennett said: "I have no desire to go into people's homes and tell them what to do, but I do have an interest in our children getting the best possible start in life."


National's nanny moves

Alcohol
• Can't buy beer and wine from dairies and convenience stores.
• Bars no longer allowed to advertise discounts over 25%.
• Can't buy beer from bottle stores after 11pm and in bars after 4am.
• Minors need express consent from parents to drink.

Smoking
• Plain packets for cigarettes (proposed).

Driving
• Speed tolerance cut to 4km/h.
• Breath-alcohol limit lowered.
• Mobile phone use banned in cars.

Recreation
• Licence to hunt specific types of game animals.
• Snapper catch reduced (proposed).
• Fines for not fencing permanent paddling pools (proposed).

Health and welfare
• Raising age for child booster seats from 5 to 7.
• Harder to get cold medicine with pseudoephedrine.
• Beneficiaries' non-school-age kids must be enrolled in early childhood education and doctor's clinic.
• 16- and 17-year-old beneficiaries have an adult assigned to them who pays their bills and handles their money.

- NZ Herald

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