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Paul Little is a Herald on Sunday columnist

Paul Little: Nats' taunts only to be expected

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He has disappointed Labour supporters yet again, this time by compounding ineptitude with the amnesia of convenience. Photo / Mark Mitchell
He has disappointed Labour supporters yet again, this time by compounding ineptitude with the amnesia of convenience. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Once it was revealed that Labour leader David Shearer had an offshore bank account containing $50,000-plus, which he had failed to list on his Parliamentary register of pecuniary interests, there was no doubt Prime Minister John Key would make great sport of it.

$50,000? What a piddling amount. Why, Key probably leaves that much cash in his Hawaiian holiday home as a kitty for when the cleaner needs to buy floor polish or a small vehicle. To a man with a personal fortune usually estimated at $50 million, such a sum is top-up-the-wine-cellar money, at best.

Key has done an amazing job of downplaying his personal wealth to appear like one of us. Donating his salary to charity was great PR, though it did make one wonder whether he would have been more like one of us if he could have used $419,300 a year.

But why did Shearer, who declared the total to the IRD, fail to declare it to Parliament for three years running? Brain fade? Embarrassment at how small the sum was?

He has disappointed Labour supporters yet again, this time by compounding ineptitude with the amnesia of convenience.

And as surely as swine follow pearls, John Banks followed Key's lead by weighing in with sanctimonious payback. This was only to be expected given Shearer's past criticism of Banks' ethical challenges. But let's not forget Shearer got his whack from an honest day's toil at the United Nations, not from Kim Dotcom or in the expectation of Talent2 dividends.

A bigger problem for voters will be that $50,000 is a sum that a Labour Party leader should find significant. It's not the sort of amount many of us could afford to leave lying around overseas. Only politicians who are aware of the value of money to the population in general will be able to appreciate the aspirations and fears of those they are asking to vote for them.


Conservative lobby group Family First got market research outfit Curia to survey attitudes on assaulting children - or "smacking" as they call it - as part of its perpetual campaign to have the law forbidding this overturned.

Family First appears to believe that not being smacked is the single most important issue facing our children. A "whopping" 77 per cent of those polled, FF claimed, wanted the law changed to bring back the bash.

Obviously, results on a question like this will depend on how it is framed. In this case, the 1000 respondents were asked whether the law should be changed so that "parents who give their children a smack that is reasonable and for the purpose of correction are not breaking the law".

In other words, it was saying, "Do you believe something that is reasonable is reasonable?" What, one wonders, would the result have been if the same question had been put as follows - "Should the law be changed so that it is legal to hit children when it is not legal to hit adults, or should there be one law for all?"

Two other questions in the survey were equally absurd. Seventy-seven per cent said the new law had had no effect on child abuse. All credit to Curia for finding 1000 people who were up to speed with the latest data in that field.

For the problem with Question 3 - "Would you still smack your child if you thought it was reasonable ... despite the current law?" - see Question 1, above.

Curia says it considers market research an art as well as a science. It is presumably thinking of the arts of ventriloquism and the three-card trick.

- Herald on Sunday

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