Just like that, politics is back to normal. Not a good normal. More a grubby, self-interested and cynical normal.

In the days after the mosque attack, it felt like we could do anything. Whatever needed fixing, could be fixed. We were all in it together. Collectively, everyone was prepared to pull up socks, put aside personal motivations and pull together.

It felt good and pure and hopeful.


And then it vanished. Midway through last week it dawned that the unity had burned out.

Why does it feel so disappointing? Has this last week in politics really been that bad? Or is disappointment just felt more keenly when you've flirted with hope?

Either way, it's been a reality check of a week.

First, the euthanasia bill. By now, that bill should be 90 per cent ready. A few final tweaks and then the vote on whether it'll become law.

But it's not ready.

Some 38,000 Kiwis wasted their time pleading with the politicians on the Justice Select Committee. For 15 months, concerned citizens filed into stuffy rooms, faced politicians and either begged for euthanasia or warned against it. The politicians leaned on their elbows, shifted in their seats, trudged back to Wellington and did almost nothing. They just handed the bill back — largely unchanged — and collected their pay.

Some politicians on that committee have let us down. It seems they've let their personal views get in the way of shaping good law. It looks like they've deliberately stopped changes to the bill. That's because any changes would improve the bill. An improved bill would have a better chance of becoming law. Which, presumably, isn't what they want. And if it stays the mess it is, it's more likely to fail.

It was infuriating to hear National MP Maggie Barry on the radio last week describe the bill as "a mess" and "unsafe". She was on that committee. It was her job to tidy the mess.


Then there's the disappointment of the gun reform.

The Government is about to stuff this up in a major way. They've decided the gun buy-back won't include illegal guns.

That's ridiculous.

Why would you buy guns back off legal owners, but not off the owners of illegal weapons? It makes no sense.

The last people in this country who actually want to hand over their weapons are those — like gangs and criminals — who hold them illegally. Isn't it obvious that one of the few things that might entice them to hand in their weapons is the promise of easy cash?

If we're not paying for the guns, what do we think will impel them to give up their guns? The goodness of their hearts? Their sense of common responsibility? Their respect for the law?

This stuff-up punishes law-abiding gun owners and gives a free pass to the worst kinds of gun users.

I'd put this down to money. The costs of the gun buy-back are already climbing. Initial estimates of $100 million have tripled.

Adding in illegal guns is probably an expense this Government can't afford. Which means they're cutting corners and not doing this properly.

It makes you wonder at this Government's gun reform motives. Do they actually want to get all the military-style semi-automatic weapons off the streets? Or are they more interested in just collecting enough guns to fill a skip while TV cameras film the Prime Minister smiling next to the Police Minister and saying "look how well we've done" and "New Zealand is a safer place".

It's just politics, that's all. This is how it works. Game playing, PR exercises, half jobs.

And now we know for next time, the hope lasts less than 30 days.