The week in politics

by Jake Quinn

This week saw Judith Collins express confidence in the Corrections Chief Exec, Barry Matthews. Thank goodness. I’m sure the department will breath a collective sigh of relief.  Meanwhile Audrey Young notes, correctly, that housing prisoners in renovated shipping containers is actually a non-issue. The issue is whether or not doing so would be humane, and it easily could be.

As the CE notes, the containers would be larger than regular cells, be insulated and have barred and shuttered windows built in. Of course all this rationalism is lost in the political message from the tough talking minister, which is “prisoners = bad, making them sweat to build their own substandard housing where they will suffer = good”.

As Matthews states: “They are better conditions than some of our [wooden] hut cells are around the country. They are quite roomy and we will put stronger fittings in. The intention is they will last 30 to 50 years. It’s not a temporary solution, it’s a permanent solution.”

Why don’t we just leave “the how” of housing prisoners to the Corrections Department and leave politicians to thrash out the tough questions… say, what can we do about that fact that:

Over half of prisoners in New Zealand are Maori.
Two in every three prisoners have been previously imprisoned.
Over half of those prisoners were first imprisoned at the age of 19 or under.
Three quarters of those prisoners are first imprisoned at the age of 24 or under.
Half of prisoners released are reconvicted and re-imprisoned within four years (and half of those in the first year).
Two thids of prisoners are reconvicted within four years
  • Over half of prisoners in New Zealand are Maori.
  • Two in every three prisoners have been previously imprisoned.
  • Over half of those prisoners were first imprisoned at the age of 19 or under.
  • Three quarters of those prisoners are first imprisoned at the age of 24 or under.
  • Half of prisoners released are re-convicted and re-imprisoned within four years (and half of those in the first year).

Moving on..

How ’bout that Razor Gang?

Prime Minister John Key and is clearly not into self harm.  His razor gang has barely taken a cent from Parliamentary Services, the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet or Ministerial Services (or the Tourism department), but instead Education! has coped most of the razor’s blade.

Job’s Summit “a do-fest not a talk-fest”

The problem with slogans like this is that you actually have to deliver on them or people will mock you for them relentlessly.  And now the Job Summit is the gift that keeps on giving for the opposition.

Frankly, it was foolish and naive of Key to overcook it in the first place.  He would have been smarter to say “this is a start, these types of things can and have lead to positive change in the past – and we are hopeful that this will be the case here, but lets wait and see”.

[Update]  Fran O’Sullivan and John Armstrong both touch on the Job Summit and how its been handeled in their Saturday pieces.

Fran believes the point of the summit was not to create jobs but rather to get a feeling of where the business community were at and to discuss ways in which government policy could help NZ take off once the recession is over. She thinks the addition of job saving measures like the 9 day fortnight were merely to appease the plebs. She might, unfortunately, have been on the mark.

Finally, for those who, like me, hate management speak check out this Onion piece.

And this is a must view for anyone who thinks that “the young” may possibly communicate too frequently online and via text message with one and other – it’s hilarious.


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