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How low will Bridges go?

Written By: - Date published: 11:00 am, January 2nd, 2021 - 24 comments
Categories: drugs, making shit up, national, same old national, Simon Bridges, spin, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags:

I seem to have spent much of the past couple of years writing posts about Simon Bridges.  It was not part of a campaign but the problem was Simon presented such an easy target.  Time and time again he did stupid things.  These were not run of the mill National levels of stupidity but often they descended into It really seemed like he wanted to

Simon Bridges has spent the past few days getting stuck into the fact there have been a couple of deaths at music festivals.  He has criticised the Government for passing legislation under urgency to bring in the ability to legally test pills at music festivals.  The service is offered overseas in various jurisdictions and has been instrumental in not only saving lives but in educating young people on the dangers of taking unlabeled drugs sold by small time drug dealers.

A year ago I said this:

Summer is the season for music festivals, and kids doing what they have done for ever, experimenting with stuff.

Occasionally the results are catastrophic as a young person gets their life traumatically shortened either through a drug overdose or because they have tried a dodgy batch of something.

This is why the topic of allowing participants to test what drug they have in their possession has been topical and is important.

In Europe the service is regularly available.  In Portugal for instance the decriminalisation of the personal use of drugs has meant that this can be treated purely as a health issue.

In Australia there has always been this hand wringing about the issue with critics saying that it will normalise and increase drug taking amongst the poor.  But sense has prevailed and the first festival testing service has been established.  And the test suggests that the service provides educational as well as safety benefits.

The last Government wanted to implement the policy.  But the handbrake was applied and implementation of the policy was stalled.

Fast forward to the new majority Labour Government and hey presto, legislation passed under urgency with the hope that pill testing could be implemented in time for the summer Festival season.

During the Parliamentary debate on the law change Simon Bridges showed some muddied thinking:

… there is clear evidence that use and harm will increase through pill testing. At the very least, I say it’s clear harm won’t reduce and there won’t be more people saved—that is, doing less harm.

He needs to make up his mind, will pill testing increase harm or not reduce harm.

He was also subject to this zinger by Chloe Swarbrick:

Why are we rushing this bill when serious drug-harm reduction initiatives haven’t been done? In the last term, the Government did, in my view—and I ask the members opposite to challenge me on this—incredibly little towards serious drug-harm reduction.

Chlöe Swarbrick: It’s because you stood in the way.

Bridges’ take away line?  The bill is part of a wider agenda by the Government to decriminalise illicit drugs.  There is no room for subtlety in Simon’s thinking.

It should be a no brainer.  The availability of testing is a reminder that drugs can be dangerous and rather than give a false sense of security testing can and will save lives.  And it will cause young people to reflect on the downside of drug taking.

Drug taking amongst young people is trending down.  Introduction of this law will not result in a rampant increase in drug taking by the young.

But National is gonna National.  Clearly they believe that they should never let a chance to engage in culture wars even if they are insulting dead kiwis and their families.

So what does Simon do over summer when he should be spending time with his kids?  He engages in a culture war battle, or as National describes it, is only asking questions.

The clear implication was that the death was or could have been drug related.  Note the ratio.

In case we missed the subtlety of Bridges’ dog whistle that this was because the Government had stuffed up the implementation of the drug testing policy Bridges then tweeted this:

Then doubling down on what he previously said he chose to politicise a further death.  Again check the ratios.

From what I can tell there have been three deaths associated with music festivals.  I am not going to mention names.  Their families ought to be allowed to grieve in private.

The first was a soldier who died at the Hidden Valley Festival after suffering what is described as a medical event.  The second was a young Wellington student who left the Rhythm and Vines festival at 2 am in the morning and was found dead 8 kilometers away.  The third was a sound engineer who was working on the Rhythm and Vines festival and apparently suffered a heart attack.

There will be coroners’ inquiries.  But the last thing there should be is some sort of attempt by National to attack the Government over the ability of its policy to save all lives.

After all this method has been tried overseas with success.  December was the earliest that the Government could have passed the law given the dynamics of the last Government.  And sure the shortness of time and the lack of reagents meant that not as much testing as had been hoped for could occur but at least a start has been made.

Instead of criticising the Government National should be holding its head in shame.  It could have facilitated introduction of the the testing regime some time ago and, given Bridges’ logic, lives could have been saved.  But instead of this it went all culture war on it.  National MPs were not even present at Parliament’s Health Committee when Chloe Swarbrick presented a petition over a year ago seeking implementation of the testing regime

I hope that this term Labour lines up policy after policy for Parliament to consider and for National to oppose, thinking that the grand old days of the 1950s and 1960s may return and see it returned as rightful leader.  Because all that this will show is how shallow National’s thinking on important issues is, and how it is prepared to play petty politics when situations arise that demand the most careful and humane methods of treatment.

24 comments on “How low will Bridges go? ”

  1. lprent 1

    It seems to me that Simon Bridges only has his headline quotient as his moral imperative. This moralistic morbid gloating over the deaths of others by a culture war hypocrite doesn't reflect well on his purported faith.

    Totally unsuited for a position in Parliament

    • RedLogix 1.1

      This moralistic gloating by a lazy hypocrite doesn't reflect well on his purported faith.

      In some faiths there is a prohibition on 'reciting prayers in public' (widely interpreted as any ostentatious display of faith) for this exact reason.

      • lprent 1.1.1

        a prohibition on 'reciting prayers in public' (widely interpreted as any ostentatious display of faith)

        As a faithless well read religious and mostly political agnostic, I can tell you that it is a really good policy.

        To me it doesn't matter if it is someone like the militant green on here who persuaded me that a single intolerant nut-bar supporting them was sufficient to tip me into party vote Labour last year. Or one fool I ran across recently who was so bereft of understanding what they were saying when they claimed that the bible was the literal truth, but quibbled when I pointed out some parts of the old and new testaments (I'm sure you can figure out some of them).

        I listed some, asked if they'd performed them or when that would follow them – and when I should send the police to his crime scene. Even for someone of faith, it pays to be coherent, know your faith at least to the level of well read lay person if you want to push it into other peoples faces.

        Usually a person who acts the socially acceptable precepts of their faith will gain respect for that faith – even if they don't get conversions. But those who simply cherry-pick bits for a perception of moral superiority, social position and advantage and then flaunt it without the actions that support it just deserve my contempt.

        It appears that Simon Bridges is heading even further down that path, in my opinion disgracing not only the dubious morality of the National Party but also his public religious faith.

  2. Sacha 2

    Are we who this desperate politician is speaking to anyway?

  3. Treetop 3

    Testing is about saving lives and the health of the user. Knowing what you are taking can make the difference between taking it and not taking it.

  4. Lettuce 4

    The refusal by some politicians and other assorted moralisers to accept legalised pill testing amounts to a dreadful ultimatum. They're essentially arguing that a few unfortunate young people should be allowed to die so that they can serve as examples of the dangers of consuming recreational drugs for their peers.

    • Incognito 4.1

      If only those examples with bad/fatal outcomes would lead to positive changes in group behaviour, which it does not, or at least not nearly and fast enough. The problem I have with those pretentious, presumptuous, arrogant, self-righteous moralists is that they do not necessarily want to do the right thing and not even others to do the right thing, although there is an element of that. Above all, those moralists want to be right and be morally superior, at least in their own little minds. Therefore, they are never wrong, not even when they are found to have acted on the wrong side of the Law (not guilty till caught and convicted), they will never admit being wrong, and they never say sorry because they are not feeling truly sorry. They will justify just about anything to be right.

      The thing is that these kinds of ‘moralists’ can be found anywhere, in all layers and corners of the population and across the whole political spectrum. A telltale sign is closed-mindedness and the lack of inclusivity; the drawbridge is permanently pulled up to keep outside influences and dangers out and away.

  5. Stuart Munro 5

    I imagine Bridges is trying to keep his brand alive over the break. He'd likely have more success if he could think of anything intelligent to say about the prison riot.

    Simmering discontent over the Collins leadership evidently continues to simmer despite the lack of alternatives.

  6. Gabby 6

    Got to wonder why Britches is dead set against dodgy dealers being exposed.

  7. Treetop 7

    What happens to the substance being tested if it is not what the user thinks it is?

    Would the strength of the substance be known with testing?

  8. shanreagh 8

    So what does Simon do over summer when he should be spending time with his kids? He engages in a culture war battle, or as National describes it, is only asking questions.

    This is par for the (his) course though. He put all sorts of people in potential danger over lockdown with his foolish and unnecessary trips back and forth to Wellington. If he had happened to catch the virus he could have spread the virus all the way along the trip from Tauranga to Wellington, not to mention at both end points.

    The pill testing regime is a pragmatic solution. To ensure that pills are safe does not mean that we are condoning a relaxation of the laws. On the contrary it means we have put in place a solution to pill quality while we discuss etc the wide picture. Hardliners, especially biblical oriented hardliners, have a hard job with nuances.

    I am picking that his legal training/interpretation was plain meaning (quite suitable for a prosecutorial role I suppose) and not fair, large and liberal interpretation which is better suited to a life in Parliament where legislation may be needed to capture wider things than 'yes' or 'no'. For a stark difference in the two approaches compare him with Geoffrey Palmer.

    I would rather we had no deaths due to drugs at festivals and if pill testing is the way to go then that is good.

  9. Jester 9

    I have not heard that any of the three deaths are drug related. Is Simon just making a huge assumption that they had all taken something?

    • shanreagh 9.1

      And that would be par for the course for SB …..an assumption then built on by a hardline attitude.

    • Sacha 9.2

      He is dishonestly relying on hardline christian ears to equate being at a music festival with taking drugs. Young people having fun in groups have always threatened the uptight.

  10. vto 10

    ask simon how many people have died from alcohol over the break


    so sick of this shit

    smoke up large in front of the conservative hypocrites, steadily dying from their beer guts, wrecked livers and shrinking brains…

    i laugh in the face of these people nowadays – laugh out loud


  11. ken 11

    Don't ever change, Si-moan…….we like you just the way you are.

    Totally unfit to govern.

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