Where's a politician when you need one? Everywhere you look, our elected masters seem to have walked off the job, leaving the bureaucrats to run the show. The results are not pretty.
In South Auckland it's the police arming themselves for a "trial" period. In the CBD, e-scooters have turned Auckland pedestrians into human skittles, while across in Herne Bay, Aussie retailer Rod Duke continues the fight to turn his neighbourhood beach into a private helipad.
Linking the above is the hands-off approach from the people we've voted into office to look after our interests. Police Minister Stuart Nash hides behind the excuse he can't interfere in operational matters, while doing just that by claiming the trial "does not mean that police are moving to routine arming".
That is certainly not how Police Association president Chris Cahill sees it, greeting the announcement by pointing out "61per cent of the public were in favour of the general arming of police while the majority of frontline officers also welcomed arming".
The Armed Response Teams, garbed in body armour, will "routinely patrol" three crime hot spots — Counties Manukau, Waikato and Canterbury — round the clock for the next six months. After that? Well after the Christchurch terror shooting in March, Commissioner Mike Bush said the general arming of police in Christchurch at the time was a local, tactical response and there was no intention to push for general arming. Yet now, that emergency one-off "local" has spread like measles into a nationwide "trial".
The only political discussion has come afterwards, with Green co-leader Marama Davidson a lone voice of warning, arguing that more guns have never resulted in less violence.
On a more "cor blimey" level, Auckland politicians have been similarly absent without leave. Forty or so years ago, when I moved into the outer fringes of Herne Bay, my neighbourhood was, shall we say "distressed" — a mix of student flatdom, Little Polynesia and the odd poor journo. The little inner harbour beaches down the hill with their decaying boat sheds, welcomed one and all. Today, the beach scene has become almost feudal.
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At Sentinel Road Beach, the secluded palace on the western cliff top warns off bathers with a menacing coil of razor wire strung along the top of the beach retaining wall. Meanwhile, to the cityside, Briscoe chief, Rod Duke, wages a drawn-out war to turn a once ancient boat shed that juts out across the sand to the water, into his private helipad.
The shed was built prior to existing planning rules, so he enjoys "existing use rights". Back in 2017, he was granted planning permission to rebuild the shed. He also applied for a new use — as a helipad! He got it.
But to his chagrin, he was only permitted to use it three times a week, which he thought unfair seeing helipads nearby could be used six times a week. Neighbours were amazed he was allowed any landing rights and last December persuaded the High Court to over-rule the consent on the grounds council had not consulted neighbours beforehand.
Duke's lawyers are yet to announce his next move, but the council boffins have finally realised that helicopter movements in the midst of bathers sunning themselves on a public beach, might be a little perilous. We're told council is reassessing its rules and for that, we're to thank council planning chairman, Chris Darby.
Now perhaps I'm stupid, but I'd have thought the only rule you needed when it came to landing a helicopter on a small public beach was that you can't. And I suspect every councillor agrees with this. So why don't they earn their considerable salaries and tell Duke to take a boat to his golf match instead. Or an e-scooter.
Over the past year alone, $4.4million in accident compensation has been paid out on 3388 claims by scooter users. Most claims arose from accidents on Auckland CBD streets. Last week, as another scooter rider was carted off to hospital in a "critical" condition, Auckland bureaucrats extended this "trial" on city footpaths yet again.
How many politicians have to be skittled before they tell the bureaucrats this craziness on our footpaths has to stop?