This week, Doc McGrath points the finger of blame. [See Correction below]
I wonder if readers noticed this news item about the road toll at Labour Weekend—specifically a horrific, fiery car crash South of Te Karaka near Gisborne that saw four dead.
The story of that crash is a chilling demonstration of the Law of Unintended Consequences which states:
The actions of people, and especially of government, always have effects that are unanticipated or unintended.
Now, we often say that where there are consequences, those who took the actions should bear the responsibility. So when those actions are taken by government, and those unintended consequences bear directly on someone else—someone who has often been prohibited from avoiding those consequences, however dire—then who takes responsibility for that?
How does that bear on this crash? Read this:
Police say passers-by stopped to try to help those trapped in the burning vehicle, but they couldn't get their seatbelts released before the fire took hold.
Did I mention responsibility? I put it to you that those lawmakers who made wearing seat belts compulsory all those years ago should be held accountable to the family of the three people who suffered agonising death in the Ford Explorer because they were trapped by their seat belts.
Now I'm not saying these three people wouldn't have used their seat belts without laws mandating their use. They might have. And perhaps, without the seat belts, they would have died from injuries sustained directly as a result of the crash. The fact remains however that the restraints intended to save lives were in this case a contributing factor in the deaths of these unfortunate motorists. And the choice over using those seat belts had been taken out of their hands—so even if they decided they’d be safer without wearing a restraint, they couldn’t.
Every action has consequences, and parliamentarians - like everyone else - should be held accountable for these consequences. If a law results in needless death or injury, justice should be sought for the victims.
I believe New Zealanders should have recourse to legal action against legislators who introduce bills to Parliament that end up as laws limiting the action of peaceful citizens, where this restriction leads to avoidable death.
Leader, Libertarianz Party
CORRECTION: Later more accurate reports indicate the inability of heroic rescuers to extricate the car’s occupants before fire took hold had nothing to with seat belts. So while the discussion is a useful one, it has nothing to do with this tragedy. We regret the error.