Government by knee-jerk

Written By: - Date published: 1:56 pm, January 31st, 2010 - 21 comments
Categories: animal welfare, crime, Parliament - Tags:

John Key has told us that his government’s unrelenting focus this year will be the economy. He has also said his government will focus unrelentingly on education. Already, it has relented to focus on increasing the maximum penalty for animal cruelty from three years to five.

Of course what happened with the massacre of those dogs  and the guy feeding kittens to his dog is disgusting but

  1. this new law won’t apply to the people who carried it out, who are being charged under existing laws
  2. is there anything to suggest that if the maximum jail term for animal cruelty had been five years rather than three it would have changed their behaviour?

A ‘get tough’ law that doesn’t actually get tough on the people it is directed at and that doesn’t stop people behaving like that is useless. It’s just an exercise in looking like you’re doing something.

It’s good to oppose and declaim these wanton acts of violence against animals. But doing something that won’t make a difference is a waste of time and money.

This looks dangerously like a political tactic to exploit current popular feeling than responsible government that uses its limited legislative time to pass important, useful laws.

Meanwhile, 250,000 Kiwis and rising are out of work.

21 comments on “Government by knee-jerk”

  1. TightyRighty 1


    • Sam 1.1

      Congratulations, there are now only 23 more letters of the alphabet to learn! You can do it!

      • TightyRighty 1.1.1

        typical leftie response. paint everyone who doesn’t agree with you as ignorant. so tired

        • Sam

          Well yours was a typical un-related tory reply so get over yourself.

          • TightyRighty

            No sam. my comment was in regard to knee jerk actions performed by the last labour government that eddie defended, rightly or wrongly. I’m glad to see that you are not as over yourself as you would like me to be over myself. tiresome is what you are.

            • felix

              So the EFA was a populist measure, cynically designed to ride a wave of public sentiment?

              • TightyRighty

                Felix you know the answer to that. it was a knee jerk response to “chinless scarf wearers” cynically designed to repress a wave of public sentiment and tip the playing field in the incumbents favour.

              • felix

                So there was going to be a wave of public sentiment and Labour cunningly repressed it before it happened?

                And would this future wave of sentiment be on the side of the chinless scarf wearers or against them? Very hard to tell from your comment.

                Really not seeing much of a connection to the type of policy-making described in the post. I suspect your first comment was a knee jerk of sorts. It kinda reads like “GGGHHHHAAA BLUURRR LABOUR!!!!”

            • Sam

              Right, so, fixing loop holes that allows millions of dollars to be donated anonymously to political parties, a move that was supported by a large number of political scientists, is a knee jerk reaction akin to that of John Key’s constant political ADHD in a desperate attempt to market National as having a “finger on the pulse”, as it were?

              Despite National changing very little of the EFA and the sky not falling contrary to the Granny’s headlines, this is still clearly a big issue for you – and you say that I’m the tiresome one, sheesh!

      • travellerev 1.1.2

        Fuck, that was hilarious.‘:lol:’

  2. To be fair, this was a private members bill (Simon Bridges) that was gaining support. It might seem crass to some given the timing, but it was a political no-contest to adopt it as a Government bill. It makes them look like they are doing something.

    Meanwhile, Rome burns whilst Nero amuses the mob.

    • Eddie 2.1

      yeah the politics of the thing are in no doubt. It’s just the actual point that’s missing.

    • Scribe 2.2

      I think it’s important to point out that Simon Bridges was already promoting this bill before the last couple of high-profile cases of animal cruelty, including Wellsford. It might be populist, but it isn’t as knee-jerk as some would believe.

  3. prism 3

    Yeah waste of politicians’ and parliament’s time. Comments on recent 3 strikes law from those studying crime were that harsher laws are unlikely to be followed by the thought – this is going to cost me more time than before. They act on impulse and hatred of whatever, a desire to punish, teach someone a lesson etc.

  4. Whilst penalties for all other crimes are so high it should probably be higher. At the moment it is way out of proportion to other crimes. For that reason I understand the need to increase the penalty so it is seen as “a real crime”. Rather than just a regulatory issue.

    I personally would rather they reduced all the other penalties to match it and focus on prevention and rehabilitation instead but that is unlikely to happen in the near future.

    I think the very much more core issue here is to alter the way these things are prosecuted because so few actually go to trial or just receive a fine. We need some more effort on fixing this issue rather than just increasing penalties but it is at least a start. I am somewhat worried National is just supporting the bill to avoid doing this and also to justify higher penalties on other crimes.

  5. richard 5

    I couldn’t imagine a single MP voting against this – why would you? However it is a fairly hollow gesture. Would haver a much greater impact if it was combined with resourcing of MAF to carry out the animal wellfare role that they are actually supposed to carry out. Also funding for the SPCA who, as a charity with no public funding, will have to spend tens of thousands to bring before the courts any alleged offender that might be subject to this legislation.

  6. George D 6

    MAF and SPCA prosecute some tiny percentage of their complaints. Telling them to actually prosecute would be a good idea.

    I’d actually challenge the Greens to vote against this, just to make the point.

    • lprent 6.1

      I’d agree. Except the police should get involved in the prosecutions. They have the legal capability, which they also appear to have an internal policy not to exercise.

      The SPCA is a voluntary organization that deliberately doesn’t have state funding. They should be able to concentrate their resources on the cases at the edge of the legal bounds to ensure that the boundaries are clear. The police should work on the clearcut cases.

      MAF has two issues. Firstly they don’t have the resources. I think that there are only a handful of animal welfare officers. Secondly they have an inherent conflict of interest in many cases.

  7. Gooner 7

    You’re spot on. It is a kneejerk. Just like the dog microchipping law is/was.

  8. Zaphod Beeblebrox 8

    So will it be three dog bites and you your dog gets locked away forever? Or is it that your dog will be banned from wearing their gang patches in public? Then again if your dog makes too much noise can we get its kennel crushed? But then again the dog can’t use the defence of provocation to defend itself.

    Are there any other populist cliched quick fix catchy solutions we can come up with?

    • BLiP 8.1

      The dog’s obviously a bludger – if we were to name and shame, you know, publish its name, income, list of benefits received to date, and current living situation all other dogs tempted to bite children would stop.

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