Thursday, February 26, 2009

NOT PJ: Kicking Arse for England

This week, the Queen has Bernard Darnton’s back in a scrap – but maybe not for much longer…

BernardDarnton One of the great comforts of having a second passport is the knowledge that if I ever get into trouble overseas Her Britannic Majesty is going to come over all arse-kicking and get me out of strife.

When I enter another country I proudly present them with a document that requests and requires in the Name of Her Majesty all those whom it may concern to allow the bearer to pass freely without let or hindrance, and to afford the bearer such assistance and protection as may be necessary.

This “request” is backed by the implied promise that if you don’t treat me nicely and give me any help I may require then Her Britannic Majesty is going to show up with her cavalry and sort you out.


Clearly this is bollocks -– it’s not going to happen –- and it’s probably a good job too. Most of those theoretically under Her Britannic Majesty’s protection who get into trouble are frustrated white collar thugs who travel to Europe, skip the Louvre, avoid the Coliseum, give the Parthenon a swerve, and instead spend hours yelling repetitive obscenities at fans of opposing football teams.

The batons of continental police forces are probably never better deployed.
So why the passport? It’s sheer nonsense. So you’ve got a letter from the Queen telling the suspicious foreign types to let you pass freely, or else. So bloody what? So does every other Manchester United-shirt wearing oaf looking for the fish-and-chip shop nearest to his half-built Spanish hotel -- and it means nothing.

While a safe conduct document might have made sense in 1414, it’s simply a waste of paper in today’s world of mass tourism.

The plan to reclassify trans-Tasman flights as domestic flights is a welcome step towards binning this anachronism. No doubt part of the plan is simply to transfer some of the bureaucracy from the arrivals lounge to the departure gate but any improvement is worthwhile. Perhaps as much for the simple knowledge that there are still people trying to reduce regulation rather than constantly dreaming up further shackles.

Even better than the proposed changes would be a switch to the European system where border guards only ever appear if it isn’t raining, and never on weekends.

As well as binning passport control, we could also ditch the departure taxes and eliminate Customs and Excise -- the nosy thieving bastards -- too.

Four cheers for the idea to scrap some of the international travel nonsense from flights to and from Australia. There’s no reason why travel to Melbourne should be treated any differently from travel to Motueka. Let’s be honest: you’re more likely to need Customs checks for arrivals from Motueka.
Now, as long as all this doesn’t bugger up duty free…

* * Read Bernard Darnton’s column every Thursday here at NOT PC * *

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