We have seen the clash this week of the raw emotion of a cause held close to one's heart, come smack into the wall of political reality, if not practicality.

I talked to Judy Richards on Tuesday morning as she was about to head south to the capital to present her petition to the Government over foreign drivers.

This was the second petition on the matter, the first having gone nowhere, writes Mike Hosking.

There is no doubt foreign drivers running into locals is an issue. Just this week we have charges laid as a result of an incident in which the victim fights for their life.


Although in perhaps an ironic twist, the victim was also a tourist.

But Judy, after I'd talked to her, was heading to the airport to fly to the capital to have her petition accepted by none other than Winston Peters.

And that is another aspect of this story, not only do we have emotion and pragmatism ... we have political opportunism.

Winston in election year is a study in the matter, there is no issue Winston can't get on board with in election year. If there is a camera and/or a headline, Winston is there with alacrity.

By the end of the day I note Labour was on board with the idea as well, testing foreign drivers ... that was what the petition was all about.

Testing foreign drivers so they would no longer kill us ... the fact they cause only 3 per cent of accidents, and that's no higher than it's ever been, seemed lost in the heat of the day.

Labour, who walk that fine line between Winston's world of blatant grandstanding, and the need to actually get a bit of the spotlight on themselves given they could actually run the country, couldn't quite bring themselves to fully get behind the idea of testing 3.5 million visitors.

So they offered up the idea of some sort of online education programme.

Which in reality of course means nothing, achieves nothing, but saves you from looking like cold heartless bastards who don't sympathise with the petitioners' plights.

To be fair to Judy and her fellow signatories, they don't want every visitor tested, only those who are staying for three months or longer.

Which I would have thought would lead to the question, even if they got their petition accepted and new laws introduced ... what are we going to do when the next accident is caused by a Chinese tourist here for seven days?

So after Winston and Labour had had their 10 cents worth of media sunshine, it was left to the Government to apply the aforementioned practicality.

Three months or not, no one is testing foreigners as they arrive in this country.

No one has the time or energy or resources to do it. It simply wouldn't and couldn't work.

But it's a tough line to run on a day when the people trying to convince you have tragedy as such a significant part of their lives.

You can't argue with tragedy, you can't tell them they're wrong because they're not. Tragedy when delivered via circumstances beyond your control and through no fault of your own, carries a gravitas deserving of attention and respect.

But if we changed the way we did business, conducted ourselves or changed our laws every time tragedy struck, this place would be a mess.

Which brings us to Pike River and the prime minister's meeting with the families. Short of doing the right thing and having a word, what else could Bill English have possibly done? There is no way we're going back into that mine, it's not safe.

And we know it's not safe because experts are telling us it's not safe. But in the emotion of the argument it appears we can all be experts. Winston is an expert ... he's going in.

Labour are experts ... they want to circumvent the law, the very law we have in place as a result of the tragedy in the first place ... they want to hand out exceptions to laws to solve the grief of the families.

A more irresponsible argument is hard to dream up.

You can dismiss Winston's showboating because it's Winston, but Labour, the party of the workers and the unions, the party of the miners and the mining industry, the party who would scream to the roof tops and back about workers' safety ... decide in election year, that all of that can be placed to one side.

Their view appears to be that the royal commission and its resulting recommendations are worth less than being straight, honest and upfront with families, who for all the right reasons, are failing to see common sense.

All of this of course is part of the democratic process, the right to petition, the right to be aggrieved and argue your case.

But these two issues are going nowhere ... we are not re-entering a mine, we are not testing millions of foreign drivers.

And because they're going nowhere, who is it that draws a line?

Who is it that articulates in a way, clear enough to all, that once you've had your say, once you've marched or protested or signed or hired a lawyer ... and the result is still no, that somehow, as tough as it may be, as heart wrenching as it may feel, some things just can't be done, and we need to try to move on.