Editorials 23 February 2010

The Herald says RNZ savings are not worth it:

Radio NZ’s budget last year was just $38.2 million, of which $34.2 million was public money. That points to the swingeing nature of the Government’s programme. While it is reasonable that all state-funded bodies should tighten their belts, it seems excessive to be waving a big stick at organisations where the potential savings are trifling.

The same penchant was, however, evident in last year’s Budget. Most controversially, cuts were made to adult night school programmes.

Again, the savings seemed hardly worth the trouble. Community education takes just 0.6 per cent of the tertiary education allocation, and the canned programmes provided value for money, if only because they gave hands-on instruction at schools that would, otherwise, not have been in use.

The Herald may be right that politically it might not be smart to take a lot of political heat, for relatively small fiscal savings. However I think it is more complex than that. If the Govt goes soft on one or two state agencies, then it is harder to keep fiscal discipline with the rest of them. State sector CEOs will find ways to live within means if they think everyone is doing so. But if you start giving into media campaigns for more funding, it incentivises other agencies to do the same. And then you end up having to borrow even more than $240 million a week.

The Press talks protecting police:

In response to the weekend violence the Government is considering introducing extra penalties for offenders who assault police officers, as is the case in Western Australia. Such a move might not deter drugged or drunken offenders from attacking officers, however.

Yet, it is still worth considering, as it would reinforce the special position the police have in our society to uphold the rule of law. It would also acknowledge the real, every-day risks faced by officers as they perform their duties.

If the Government did move to strengthen penalties it would have to be determined whether the new law would apply to off-duty officers who intervened in an incident. But because the public expects off-duty officers to respond to crimes they come across, and they would not be wearing anti-stab vests, they too should have the protection of such a law.

I favour increased penalties for assaults on Police. The Police get assaulted, basically on our behalf. They deal with the criminals and risk their lives often doing so.

The Dom Post flicks at Wellington parking wardens:

Of all the low-down, mean, sneaky tricks … While football fans were cheering the Wellington Phoenix to a nail-biting victory at Westpac Stadium on Sunday evening, parking wardens were ticketing the vehicles of 61 fans who had exceeded the maximum parking time outside the ground – because the match went into extra time, then a penalty shootout.

To its credit, Wellington City Council has waived the tickets, which threatened to turn the Phoenix’s triumph into a public relations disaster. But coming on top of other recent instances of over-zealous ticketing, the incident suggests something is amiss with parking operations. Proposals to install Big Brother-style parking surveillance cameras in Courtenay Place add weight to the theory.

The purpose of parking restrictions should be to ensure that as many people as possible can park in city and suburban streets, do their business and be on their way. It should not be to fatten the coffers of Tenix, the private company which manages Wellington parking, Parkwise, the Armourguard subsidiary to which Tenix contracts ticketing, or the council itself.

Hear hear. The incentives are all about revenue maximization, not giving parkers a fair go.

And the ODT looks at water woes in Canterbury:

Seldom has a local authority received such a slating as that just given to Canterbury’s regional council, Environment Canterbury (ECan), by a Government review panel.

The panel says the gap between what ECan does and what it should do is enormous and unprecedented. …

Yet some argue no change is needed.

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