Editorials 29 June 2010

June 29th, 2010 at 1:54 pm by David Farrar

The Press examines the ban in prisons:

From the middle of next year New Zealand’s prisons are set to emulate ’s and become smokefree.

It is a long overdue move. It was an anomaly that prisoners could still smoke in their cells as the rest of New Zealand moved increasingly towards a no-smoking regime.

School grounds, hospitals, and other government departments have gone smokefree, as have bars, restaurants and businesses, and, in Christchurch, there is even a smokefree policy in parks.

For many prisoners – two-thirds of inmates – an enforced cold turkey regime will seem a hardship or even a civil rights breach. But those who have committed crimes against society should not expect the right to smoke, just as they cannot legally have alcohol and drugs.

What amuses me is the policy dilemma for Labour. They instinctively are in favour of anything that is anti-smoking but against anything that they see as punitive to prisoners.

So how does Labour solve this dilemma? They run a blog poll to decide their policy :-)

The Dom Post looks at the trans-Tasman relationship:

When Julia Gillard became prime minister of Australia, Prime Minister John Key was the first foreign leader to phone in his congratulations.

He needs to hope his fast dialling finger will deliver a better result than his predecessor, Helen Clark, achieved with her swift flight over for a cup of tea with Kevin Rudd when he got the job – in his time as prime minister Mr Rudd never quite made it to New Zealand for an official visit.

Mr Key, like Miss Clark before him, is smart enough to realise the onus is on Wellington to keep reminding Canberra what the “NZ” stands for in Anzac. The reality, however unpalatable it might be to some, is that New Zealand is simply not as important to Australia as Australia is to New Zealand.

Australia is New Zealand’s most important trading partner and its most important security relationship. …

Talk about whether New Zealand and Australia should take their relationship to the next level and look at issues such as a common border can wait until the Australian election is over.

Mr Key’s job is to ensure New Zealand’s interests are not damaged in the meantime.

Miss Clark and John Howard reportedly enjoyed a warm relationship despite their different political ideologies. The hope must be that the state-house son of a refugee and the daughter of a 10 immigrant from Wales can do the same.

The irony is that PM from opposite parties seem to have got on better than PMs from the same side of the spectrum.

The ODT looks at :

It is one of our cultural stereotypes: the rugged, versatile, no-nonsense farmer – the sort of person for whom most regulations are made by townies for townies who have no real understanding of the demands and constraints of a working life in the country; and, further, how the red tape that such people unhesitatingly impose on the rural sector can seriously impact on proven working methods and productivity.

In no other sphere is this more pronounced, or more irritating to some, than on-farm safety: the rules and regulations promulgated by the Department of Labour, Occupational Safety and Health and ACC are frequently seen as at best a brake on freedom and individual responsibility and, at worst, the interfering actions of bureaucrats and the “politically correct”.

Sadly, the reality is that such organisations have reason to be concerned.

According to the latest figures released by ACC, farmers are killing themselves in work-related accidents at the rate of one every 28 days.

Last year, 13 farmers died in accidents on New Zealand farms.

There were 18,600 injuries on farms, with quad bikes, farm machinery and poor animal handling featuring as the most common causes.

Raw figures by themselves mean little. What would be more useful is the injury rate per employee.

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40 Responses to “Editorials 29 June 2010”

  1. Colonel Masters (409 comments) says:

    I hope you don’t mind if I paste my comment from today’s GD re prisoners’ smoking:

    Generally speaking I would say that these people should not be singled out for special favourable attention. But it is a slap in the community’s face to seek to prolong their lives. The sooner they are gone from our midst the better.

    Cigarettes should be FREELY available to anybody in prison who wants them. I am sure there are studies identifying which are the most hazardous.

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  2. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    “The irony is that PM from opposite parties seem to have got on better than PMs from the same side of the spectrum”

    Why on earth would NZ’s PM, the leader of a party that once stood pretty solidly for conservative principles, be scurrying to the telephone to be the first in the world to congratulate the extreme left Julia Gillard??? (Guess- Nervously seeking reassurance on his idiot ETA measures?)

    Irony? Well maybe. I think its another part of the great disappointment that John Key has become. Sucking up to people like David Letterman (leftist propagandist, serial adulterer and workplace sexual harrassment specialist) and apparently doing so in complete ignorance of how a large part of the population see this.

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  3. Graeme Edgeler (3,289 comments) says:

    The proposal isn’t to make prisons smoke free, just prisoners.

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  4. exaybachay (19 comments) says:

    “The hope must be that the state-house son of a refugee and the daughter of a 10 immigrant from Wales can do the same.”

    What? Only thing that would make less sense would be to outline how he is really just a sperm who swam faster than the other million or so.

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  5. MikeG (425 comments) says:

    “What amuses me is the policy dilemma for Labour.”
    What about the policy dilemma for National? They voted 24 against/3 for the 2nd reading of the Smoke-free Environments (Enhanced Protection) Amendment Bill – in other words the vast majority of National MPs voted AGAINST a reasonable smoke-free law. Note that National let members vote according to their conscience – and we can see clearly what that was!

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  6. Rex Widerstrom (5,354 comments) says:

    Banning smoking in prisons is another of these moves, like taking away voting rights, which reverses common law of the past fifty years or so and returns to a concept of “civil death” when someone is imprisoned. It’s going backwards, in other words… unsurprising when you look at who’s advocating for it.

    On a practical level it’s a nonsense. If they follow the Australian pattern, as was suggested by commenters here yeaterday, prisoners will be allowed to smoke in designated areas so what you’ll have is a prison going through 12 or 13 hours of withdrawals while it’s locked up, every day, with no health benefits to prisoners and consequent increased danger to staff who have to deal with stressed prisoners.

    If similar rules were applied as exist in the outside world there would be no smoking in indoor common areas or within X metres of buildings. But the prisoner’s own living quarters (i.e. their cell) would be the one place they could smoke, just as any of us can choose to smoke in our own home but not in say a restaurant or sports ground.

    The talented and gorgeous Marieke Hardy used to write a blog called “Reasons You Will Hate Me”… I think I’ll have to start one with a similar title. Because I’m representing a female prisoner in an Australian prison who’s taking a case before the State Administrative Tribunal on this very issue, and am spending this week preparing the initial submissions on points of law. I’ll let you know how it goes :-D

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  7. exaybachay (19 comments) says:

    Prison: civil death, leading possibly to self-examination, leading possibly to change, leading to civil rebirth? One of the foundations of purposeful change is isolation, examination and elimination of stimulants like social contact, drugs and especially smoking and alcohol. What is prison for, if not purely for punishment, then a “rebirth” of kinds? In it’s least defined form it’s a state of time out. Time to do what? Be distracted and exposed to violence and drugs? Prison is not the outside world, there is no right to smoke while you are outside the social contracts and individual choices of civil life. You’re there as a penalty. Add rehab philosophy to the picture and you’re there to pay a penalty and mend your ways. You still don’t have the right to smoke. Smoking does not mend, it masks problems and it is destructive.

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  8. Murray (8,847 comments) says:

    Take our relationship with Australia to the next level?????

    Bugger off, all the flowers and chocolate in the world aint going to make THAT happen.

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  9. ben (2,383 comments) says:

    Regarding smoking: in ten years we will look back and say

    First they came for the prisoners…

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  10. ben (2,383 comments) says:

    Colonel Masters: great idea, except… cigarettes aren’t particularly deadly. A study has shown people badly overestimate the dangers of smoking.

    Send them hang gliding instead.

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  11. Pete George (23,676 comments) says:

    FIFA would consider adding two extra officials who would act as goal judges, one at each end of the field. They are not interested in allowing technology for decision making – there are major complications if games had to be stopped whenever something needed checking.

    “Matters pertaining to the rules of the game were handled by the International Football Association Board. FIFA holds four votes on the eight-member board. The other members are the sport’s founding federations of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Six votes are needed to alter an existing rule or install a new one, making FIFA’s agreement essential to any proposed changes in the rules.”

    Remarkable that so few still have control of the most global of sports.

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  12. Rick Rowling (815 comments) says:

    Smoking in prisons – why should prison guards be exposed to carcinogenic vapours at work when no-one else has to?

    It’s not about the prisoner’s lifestyle, it’s a HSE policy.

    The side-effect of making prison less desirable is just that – a side effect.

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  13. exaybachay (19 comments) says:

    New Study shows World War Two “Not all that deadly”
    By MICHELE FELD – Stuff Last updated 13:44 29/06/2010SharePrint Text Size

    The findings of a five year study released today state that none of last century’s conflicts were all that deadly to servicemen who survived. This came as no surprise to lifetime member of the Upper Hutt RSA, Harold “Smoke’m if you Gott’em” Gunblaster.

    “Of the twelve men under my command that survived, only twelve are now dead, two from alcohol related diseases, nine from smoking related cancer and one who died in a hang gliding accident.”

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  14. gravedodger (1,567 comments) says:

    Take a ride through the whirling dervishes at redblert as the all try to dance on the horns of the dilemma DPF outlined above re prison smoke. eh eh.

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  15. Graeme Edgeler (3,289 comments) says:

    Smoking in prisons – why should prison guards be exposed to carcinogenic vapours at work when no-one else has to?

    Plenty of other people have to. There are also exemptions for hospital care institutions, residential disability care institutions, and rest homes. And people who work in others’ homes (e.g. home help, and those in retirement villages with individual housing, etc.) may also be exposed to these vapours.

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  16. Rex Widerstrom (5,354 comments) says:

    Rick Rowling points out:

    why should prison guards be exposed to carcinogenic vapours at work when no-one else has to?

    No one I know of is saying they should be. All shared areas should be smoke free, and it is these areas that the officers occupy and sahre with prisoners. The argument is whether a prisoner or prisoners, locked in his/her/their cell with no officer present, ought to be allowed to smoke.

    When it comes to matters of prison operation I’m inclined to listen first to the officers and second to the prisoners (as they’re actually there and have to cope with the reality of all these great ideas), with Corrections’ administration a distant third and the posturing Minister not at all.

    Corrections Association president Beven Hanlon said unstable inmates coming off drugs or alcohol when first sent to prison smoked cigarettes as a replacement.

    Guards also regularly drip-fed inmates their tobacco to help control behaviour.

    “I’d be surprised if [inmates] don’t take some collective action. It’s not unusual for prison systems to cut back on everything and finally have a riot.

    “There’s the double bunking, the reduced unlock hours and visit times and now we’re taking smoking off them.”

    Tobacco would just become a bigger black-market product and guards and volunteers would be threatened to provide it, he said.

    If Prison Officers advise against it then it ought not to be done. Given that it does nothing for the health of prisoners and there are ways to protect the health of non-smoking officers, it’s nothing more than “Crusher” acting like prize idiot to score points with rednecks, and in the process placing her own staff in danger for utterly no return, to anyone.

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  17. Ed Snack (1,924 comments) says:

    The toxic effects of second hand smoke is also considerably over-hyped. The evidence for material harm is equivocal at best in the most sizable studies, a fact widely ignored by the anti-smoking brigade. In certain quite specific circumstances there may be harm, but not in general. That is not to argue that the smoke isn’t unpleasant or that I like putting up with it, but if you’re going to argue on scientific grounds, use the scientific evidence.

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  18. Eddie (288 comments) says:

    Bar workers are no longer exposed to second hand smoke but fuck prison guards aye Graeme.

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  19. lilman (965 comments) says:

    Bugger off and harden up.
    Unsafe handling practices when you have a 800 kg bull at the works and they wont let you use a prodder because of the poor old bull may be stressed at the shock.
    Some poor driver is going to get nailed ,but just as long AS THE BULLS NOT STRESSED.
    Thanks Mc Donalds.

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  20. MikeG (425 comments) says:

    Fair call gravedodger, but you have to admit that it’s quite a change in policy for National from the National MPs of 2003 – nanny state and all that, don’t worry about the pub workers.

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  21. RKBee (1,344 comments) says:

    For reasons of health and safety.. shouldn’t the authorities come down hard on buggery the prisoners other past time after smoking..

    Without these few prisoners vises.

    I can see a time when our prisons will be called Health Camp retreats.

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  22. OTGO (559 comments) says:

    Just a thought – how does a prisoner pay to support their smoking habit? Does the taxpayer pay via some sort of benefit or does the prisoner rely on friends or family to stump up for their cancer sticks?

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  23. Rex Widerstrom (5,354 comments) says:

    OTGO asks:

    how does a prisoner pay to support their smoking habit?

    A prisoner earns “gratuities” from working within the prison. Not sure of the NZ amount, in Australia the maximum is around $1 an hour. Your pay level is attained through hard work and good behaviour. They can spend this on a limited range of items sold through the prison canteen. Amongst the items on sale are cigarettes (though most buy pouch tobacco and rolling papers because $6 a day doesn’t go far).

    If they are fortunate enough to have relatives or friends prepared to support them, then they are allowed to receive a capped amount per week from outside sources. Again not sure of the exact NZ figures but in the system in which I work the level is one of ther privileges you earn (the better behaved you are, the more your relatives are allowed to give you) ranging up to $70 a week maximum. In my experience few prisoners receive $70 a week every week as their families can’t afford it; something like $20 to $40 seems to be the average.

    So no, no taxpayer money is spent on cigarettes or any other “luxury”. Prisoners must buy their own cordial, for instance, or drink tea, instant coffee or water provided by the prison. They also pay for their own phone calls (a severe disadvantage to anyone imprisoned away from their home). Pretty much anything beyond shelter, a uniform and three very basic meals a day are either paid for out of their own money or, if they have none, they go without.

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  24. RightNow (6,995 comments) says:

    Perhaps the best move would be to outlaw smoking in NZ completely.

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  25. OTGO (559 comments) says:

    Thank you Rex your answer is an example of why I read blogs and especially this one.

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  26. side show bob (3,660 comments) says:

    13 farmers died in work related accidents last year, sad but it’s a risky job. Fuck if I followed OSH recommendations I wouldn’t get out of bed in the morning . And some regulations imposed on farmers have actually made the job more dangerous i.e If we are sending stock to the works we now have to make sure each animal has an ear tag with a bar code on it or a direct to slaughter tag. If any one has tried to put a tag in a 1500kg bull who’s only wish in life is to cause mayhem then you would realise how dangerous things can become. Someone will be killed one day.

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  27. Pete George (23,676 comments) says:

    Pretty much anything beyond shelter, a uniform and three very basic meals a day are either paid for out of their own money or, if they have none, they go without.

    But everyone knows it’s virtually a life of luxury in there, they even get heating in the winter.

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  28. Graeme Edgeler (3,289 comments) says:

    Bar workers are no longer exposed to second hand smoke but fuck prison guards aye Graeme.

    As Rex notes above, Prison Guards are opposed to this.

    Why do you hate Prison Guards, Eddie?

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  29. Chuck Bird (4,922 comments) says:

    Does anyone know if this law will apply to people on remand who have not been convicted of anything?

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  30. American Gardener (556 comments) says:

    Given it is a Health & Safety issue I don’t see why remand would be any different. All work places should be smoke free.

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  31. Eddie (288 comments) says:

    “As Rex notes above, Prison Guards are opposed to this.”

    Some prison guards as interviewed by journo’s are opposed to this.

    Why do you abhor the thought of prison guards having a slightly more healthy working environment, Graham?

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  32. reid (16,615 comments) says:

    Given it is a Health & Safety issue I don’t see why remand would be any different. All work places should be smoke free.

    Is it really an OSH (Occupational Safety and Health) issue, AG?

    They could easily find another way. Like, smoking areas.

    Smokes are one of a prisoner’s few legitimate pleasures – they don’t get a whole lot else, legitimately.

    You want to take that away.

    They don’t care about their or others health.

    Tragically, that is the situation.

    Everyone who supports this ban to me, falls into the camp of either: never been a heavily addicted smoker; or a person who doesn’t read humanity very well.

    Give me a third alternative.

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  33. krazykiwi (9,186 comments) says:

    Pretty much anything beyond shelter, a uniform and three very basic meals a day are either paid for out of their own money or, if they have none, they go without.

    How do gyms, tv and internet access work?

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  34. eszett (2,426 comments) says:

    Bar workers are no longer exposed to second hand smoke but fuck prison guards aye Graeme.

    I guess the second hand smoke is a lesser worry for the prison guards than the health hazards created by a forced smoke free environment

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  35. Graeme Edgeler (3,289 comments) says:

    Why do you abhor the thought of prison guards having a slightly more healthy working environment, Graham?

    And why do you want prison guards to have a much more dangerous working environment, Edie?

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  36. Rex Widerstrom (5,354 comments) says:

    krazykiwi asks:

    How do gyms, tv and internet access work?

    Sorry for the delay in responding kk. Again I’m more familiar with the Australian situation, where the rules are slightly different. For instance remand prisoners don’t get to wear their own clothes as they do in NZ. However I think I can answer that fairly accurately.

    Yes gyms are provided in most prisons. They’re not Les Mills, however. Women’s prisons might get a treadmill or two (between several hundred women). In men’s prisons it seems to be mostly free weights and other cheap options, and a gymnasium in which to play ball sports. They can also opt to use their outdoor recreation time playing balls sports or just jogging round the field etc. Considering they’re forced into inactivity in their cells for 12 hours a day the State has a duty of care to keep them reasonably healthy.

    When I was inside I didn’t need one because the food was so sickening – literally – that I lost half my bodyweight in a matter of just over a month.

    TVs are supplied by relatives or bought through the prison. Those brought in from outside incur an inspection charge – a qualified officer takes the back off and checks nothing illegal is inside. Maximum screen size is 14 inch. A VCR is allowed for prisoners on the appropriate good behaviour level, but not a DVD player (curiously, it seems to me, since one can hardly find a new VCR for purchase nowadays).

    I’ve never heard of prisoners getting unfettered internet access. It is a privilege accorded only to those who are full time students and who are assessed as needing it and then the access is by an officer with the prisoner sitting next to them. Naturally, because prisons are kept grossly understaffed, prisoners get very little time online for their studies. Visiting non-educational sites would not be allowed by the officer unless there was some compelling reason, and it would still be in the manner I’ve described.

    There are huge problems for prisoners trying to research their appeals and who, by law, are supposed to have access to law books to do so because again, the prisons are under-resourced both in the books themselves and in terms of officers to supervise.

    Eddie:

    I would imagine the officers, if asked (and I have) would prefer that other aspects of their health and safety are dealt with first – like the understaffing I’ve mentioned. That recently saw one female officer left in charge of 150 male prisoners – murderers, rapists and the like – with only a duress alarm for protection.

    So please, don’t fall for this “we’re concerned for our employees’ health” bullshit. Officers know their health and safety matters only slightly more than that of their charges.

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  37. krazykiwi (9,186 comments) says:

    @Rex – Thanks for your comprehensive response. And BTW, I had no idea you’d been a guest of Her Majesty!

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  38. Rex Widerstrom (5,354 comments) says:

    Only on remand KK. One of several attempts by HM Constabulary to prove I was guilty of something… anything… all of which failed.

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  39. dad4justice (8,302 comments) says:

    I can relate Rex. Remand sucks when innocent but the filth know that. Our justice system is so corrupt.

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