Some are more equal than others

Written By: - Date published: 11:32 am, May 7th, 2011 - 11 comments
Categories: accountability, john key, leadership, national - Tags: ,

John Key got caught out on the blow out in costs of his nice to have diplomatic protection. So the Nats have been spinning a line about extra security for Key because “at least one person” (i.e. one person) has been “charged for threats” in “recent weeks”. Gordon Campbell at Scoop shreds that argument pretty comprehensively, his piece is well worth the read.

In the middle of Campbell’s piece is this telling observation:

When for instance, she was asked on Morning Report about the potential cost blowout for security during the Rugby World Cup she gave this extraordinary answer to interviewer Geoff Robinson:

The fact is, the Police have to make those decisions not worrying about the budget. We can’t have a situation Geoff, where we have peoples’ lives at risk because the Police are worried that they’re going to end up having to defend their budget and what they’ve spent it on. … Its not just acceptable. …

Isn’t that what doctors and nurses have to do almost every day of the week? Consistently, they are forced to balance the quality of care against the need to defend the health budget. Such decisions of course, affect only the lives of ordinary people though – and not the very important people who qualify for diplomatic protection squad care and protection. Just one more sign that this government believes some lives are more important than others.

Campbell’s rejoinder to Collins is spot on. Health care providers don’t get unlimited funding, and they must make decisions about people’s lives every day. To this example we might add health and safety provisions at work, spending on road safety, the cost of public education campaigns on smoking, drugs and alcohol, spending on the care of the elderly, spending on Pharmac and the availability of medicines, spending on the reduction of poverty with who knows how many lives saved and extended, and so on and so on.

There are any number of areas where risk to life must be balanced against a realistic budget. But Collins argues that “VIP” protection is not subject to the same constraints. In that case it’s open season on the tax payers’ chequebook, and anyone who asks questions is pathetic. Hard to argue with Campbell’s conclusion really. In the Nats’ eyes, some lives are more equal than others.

11 comments on “Some are more equal than others”

  1. lprent 1

    It was a great article. I was agast at Collins statement…

  2. Eddie 2

    didn’t Nick Smith recently decide to relax air quality standards because they would have cost too much, despite the fact they will save hundreds of lives?

    Oh, yeah, those weren’t the Prime Minister’s lives, and Nick Smith wasn’t Collins desperately trying to make up an excuse for Key’s overspending on his entourage.

    • Lanthanide 2.1

      None of the councils were anywhere near meeting the targets. I’m not defending the decision, just pointing out that it was somewhat pragmatic.

      • Colonial Viper 2.1.1

        Yep, it’s always “pragmatic” to defer costs from today and load it on to the future generations who will bear the ill health and increased liabilities which are the consequences of our contemporary “pragmatism”.

  3. ianmac 3

    Well. That is good news. If applied consistently. Hospitals can get all they need with an open budget in order to save lives. Oh really?

    • Colonial Viper 3.1

      Only important people deserve access to unlimited resources from the state. Big investors in finance firms, foreign bankers, other assroted VIPs.

      You and me? You gotta be kidding, we don’t count.

  4. Chris 4

    And this tactic / sideshow will win an election ? – I dont think so. Bagging Key and his DPS costs- [which has been overbudget for 4 years] – will not give labour a landslide victory – surely we can do better then this ? Even granny Herald says its petty.
    For goodness lets concentrate on the important stuff. This is not.

    • Carol 4.1

      Yawn…. here is that CT line again. Plenty of important stuff related to policies being focused on by the left. Look around. It’s possible to focus on more than one issue. On the other hand, it seems like CT has only one line to peddle in response.

    • Colonial Viper 4.2

      Even granny Herald says its petty.

      So a right wing corporate owned paper gives advice to Labour and you swallow it?

      [which has been overbudget for 4 years] – will not give labour a landslide victory –

      Frak over budget for 4 years, I want to see the justification Key used to have 4 DPS agents on holiday with him in Hawaii.

      BTW there is very very little which will give Labour a “landslide victory” this year.

      For goodness lets concentrate on the important stuff. This is not.

      Undermining Key and ensuring that the public know that he doesn’t give a stuff about how they are hurting while he is spending up big on himself, on their tab, is the important stuff.

  5. Anne 5

    The 2007/8 blowout happened because Key requested and received DPS cover from early in the calendar year. Part of the image build and it would have been inappropriate for Clark or King to stop it happening

    This is what Trevor Mallard said in reply to a commenter on Red Alert today. Why the hell isn’t Labour shouting this from the roof-tops! It makes a mockery of Key’s claim that he has no control over the DPS..

  6. ghostwhowalksnz 6

    Dont the DPS provide protection for foreign diplomats as well ?

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