Editorials 19 March 2010

Three on . First the Herald:

Infamously, former Telecom chief executive Theresa Gattung once admitted her company used confusion as a marketing tool. For quite some time, it worked.

A similar strategy employed by three men who broke into the Waihopai spy base near Blenheim in 2008 and slashed an inflatable plastic dome covering a satellite dish has enjoyed equal success. Various wishy-washy defences have proved sufficient to befuddle a jury in the Wellington District Court, leading to the trio’s acquittal. …

The acquittal will not set a legal precedent. That is the domain of judges, not juries. But it will probably encourage others who have attacked public property to mount the same defence.

The widespread disbelief that has greeted this decision means any such attempt will surely fall on stony ground. Clearly, that should have been the case this time, as well.

And the Press:

The question now is whether the decision will set a precedent. Legally, a decision by a district court jury does not create a precedent.

But it is likely that others charged with offences related to a cause which they passionately believe in will attempt to use the Waihopai defence.

An example might be an anti-abortionist charged with damaging a hospital where abortions were performed.

Which is what you get when people think their beliefs put them above the law.

And the ODT:

It is plain fact that state borders do not deter terrorists and criminals in the digital age yet citizens continue to rely on the State to protect both themselves and the nation’s borders. The Waihopai station must be considered to be part of that obligation but it seems hardly ever to be considered that its activities may well be saving lives, including within this country’s borders.

However much some sincere objectors may dislike it and what it represents, can they offer a practical and reliable alternative to hold secure the safety of the nation and its citizens?

That’s disapproval all round.

The Dom Post breaks the pattern and talks about former Auckland Museum director :

The not unexpected resignation of Auckland War Memorial Museum director Vanda Vitali on Tuesday raises some interesting questions. Though the parting of the ways between board and chief executive was inevitable after Dr Vitali antagonised the family of Sir Edmund Hillary, the manner of her going led one Auckland mayor to suggest the board, rather than its employee, should go.

Implicit in Waitakere Mayor Bob Harvey’s criticism was that, having searched worldwide for a museum professional to bring Auckland’s historical treasury into the 21st century, the board could not manage a woman who, once appointed, stood her ground. …

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