You can’t cell a ban to Susan Ryder.
I’ve been opposed to this legislation since it was first mooted a few years ago, but even the Clark Government wasn’t stupid enough to enact it. To be fair, it had little choice. In spite of a publicly brave face right up until Election Day, I’m sure the party bigwigs privately knew they were buggered and didn’t dare give the electorate another chance to scream ‘Nanny State’ in the interim!
However, as some of us have said all along, it seems that the Nanny State really does start and finish with light bulbs and shower pressure as far as the present government is concerned.
And so to this latest piece of brilliance.
It was no coincidence that the cellphone-while-driving issue was resurrected around the same time as the run-up to the recent Referendum to repeal the Anti-Smacking Act. It was also no coincidence that it passed into law shortly after the Prime Minister scotched the outcome of the Referendum … no doubt to salvage some respect amid growing disquiet that he and his government were behaving with similar arrogance to that displayed by its predecessor. But in so doing, the Key government was behaving exactly like its predecessor, i.e., doing something in order to be seen to be doing something, and creating more bureaucracy into the bargain.
I had several run-ins with Leighton Smith on Newstalk ZB, who approves of the ban. “These people are a nuisance on the road!” seemed to be the thrust of his argument.
I put it to him that driving carelessly or dangerously is already against the law, as it should be. That we didn’t need a specific law for those doing so while talking on their phones; that bad driving was bad driving with or without a cellphone and should be dealt with accordingly.
Leighton refused to buy it. He reckoned that the distraction level was greater than say, changing the radio station or CD, to which my reply was “and if necessary, punish the offender more severely, but under the existing laws that encompass any and all poor driving.”
Alas, readers, I failed miserably in my attempts at persuasion. I could not seem to make him understand that I wasn’t defending unsafe driving – far from it. That I simply believed that enforcement of the existing laws was sufficient.
Why is it that Conservatives who understand and support the virtue of limited government, will happily do a U-turn and compromise that principle by calling for compulsion or bans over the odd thing they either hold dear or dislike, respectively? It’s very disappointing and they should know better.
I also predicted the following:
- That the ban will make little difference to the road toll and crash statistics
- That the LTSA will continue with their ridiculous, expensive advertising campaigns that have little effect upon the road toll and crash statistics
- That in the result of the above, the ban will be senselessly extended to include hands-free devices
As it happened, I didn’t even have to wait for the first two points to evolve. A headline in The New Zealand Herald last Saturday – the day before the legislation even came into effect – said that “experts” were already calling for the ban to be extended as such.
Just as well the radio became a standard feature in vehicles years before the legions of Professional Interferers made it their business to professionally interfere in everything we do. It wouldn’t have a show of passing the muster with today’s Nazis. Imagine the possible distractions!
PS: Further to this safety obsession, a lady from Plunket was on the radio yesterday morning talking about Guy Fawkes Day. She reminded us that fireworks could be dangerous and it’s better to look for a public display rather than ignite some at home. Animals don’t like them and children can get hurt. But if you do choose to let some off yourself, keep your children right away from them and don’t let them touch them. So don’t say you weren’t told. And if you’re a Conservative, don’t roll your eyes. ;)
* * Read Susan Ryder’s column every Tuesday here at NOT PC * *