Assuming the French presidency last month, Francois Hollande said he would exercise power with "dignity and simplicity".

Few would quibble with such an admirable intention.

What, then, was the Police Minister, Anne Tolley, doing dancing on the bonnet of a crushed car at a Lower Hutt scrapyard this week? This was a crass stunt unbecoming of any minister of any government.

The crushed Nissan Laurel was not, of course, just any car. It was the first to fall victim to Government legislation that allows the seizing and destruction of a car if a driver commits three street-racing offences.


It says much about the relevance of the law that it came into force as long ago as December 2009, and that a police superintendent was loath to say that the threat of crushing had contributed to a decline in boy racing.

But worse than the undignified celebration of such a dubious landmark was the message being delivered by Ms Tolley. She was suggesting, in effect, that when on top, the boot should be put in as far as possible. That it was fine to wallow in the misfortune of others.

That sentiment, not "the graphic deterrent to prevent another generation of boy racers", was the one more likely to be picked up by street racers.

Judith Collins, Ms Tolley's predecessor as Police Minister, has gloried in the nickname "Crusher" since introducing this law.

That has now become tiresome. As are stunts that serve only to demean a minister of the Crown.