James Shaw, Grant Robertson and Andrew Little are three prime examples of the perils government ministers risk when announcing potential legislation as though it is a done deal, without first at least making a reasonable effort at consulting with this government’s handbrake, NZ First. Yet for some strange reason, they keep on making these amateur errors.

Andrew Little thought he could make changes to the three-strikes laws as he seeks to make our justice system more criminal friendly. He didn’t discuss it at all with the NZ First caucus and then found himself in the embarrassing position of having to do a ‘reverse ferret‘ on the issue. He had to issue a weaselly statement giving credit to NZ First for halting the planned changes. You’d have thought they’d learned from that mistake, but they didn’t.

The BFD.

The next embarrassment was suffered by Grant Roberston, who was barrelling down the runway to implement a capital gains tax. He even had enlisted Jacinda Ardern to co-pilot that runaway plane. Except they, again, hadn’t consulted NZ First on the issue and again had to perform a ‘reverse ferret’. This time the embarrassment was so bad that Jacinda Ardern had to ignominiously state that a CGT would never be raised by Labour as long as she was the leader. Takeoff was aborted. The handbrake was firmly applied again, and done so at the most opportune time.

James Shaw came a gutser last week when he failed to consult the NZ First caucus over his subsidy for gay electric cars. He had led from the front with this policy and after he went over the top was inconveniently mowed down by the machine guns operated by the handbrake. National tried to take the credit:

But were gazumped by NZ First on social media and also by the headlines.

The handbrake worked again. No amount of dissembling can deny that. Three clear examples of the handbrake at work. There are two more that we will soon see.

We are now in a similar position over Ihumatao. We have heard multiple times now that a deal is imminent. Firstly it was to be announced before Ratana, then before Waitangi, and now this week. Ratana and Waitangi passed without a mutter or a murmur about a deal for Ihumatao. The truck driver from Huntly has removed his flag in a huff because he knows a deal is not forthcoming.

Duncan Garner and plenty of other commentators have been embarrassed by the distinct lack of progress over the deal. This week it will be Simon Bridges who will be embarrassed after he went large on a rumour that he has admitted privately he was only 70% sure of. Still, he invested his credibility on a rumour, just like he thought he would get Speaker Trevor Mallard for leaking his travel expenses, based on nothing more than looking Mallard in the eye and “knowing” that Mallard was lying.

There is a reason all these people, including the Prime Minister, Lil Simon, Duncan Garner and many others keep coming unstuck. None of them bothers to ask Winston Peters or NZ First what is going to happen. What generally happens is that the handbrake is applied.

Ford Australia GIF by Supercars Championship
Ford Australia GIF by Supercars Championship

Which brings me to the last point where the handbrake is set to be applied: The new gun laws. This despite rumours that Winston is to trade away Ihumatao in order to get gun law changes through. Ihumatao is a long way from being settled and that is because NZ First is digging in on the matter, sensibly saying that any deal is essentially rewarding criminal trespass on private land, and to do so would unravel decades of progress on settling treaty claims while at the same time empowering bad Maoris everywhere to squat on private land to gather a state-funded solution for their own pockets. It’s not going to happen and everyone but the protestors knows it. NZ First is the handbrake yet again.

The BFD.

You would think Stuart Nash had cottoned on to his impending embarrassment, but no. He stood in the parliament for the second reading and dug himself a ditch where he will politically die. His bill is about to suffer many ignominious retreats and those retreats will come at the hands of NZ First, the only party who can significantly change the bill as it stands.

His pals in the Police are going to find their wish list significantly pared back to more sensible solutions from those promulgated. It is believed that one of the biggest changes we will see is the removal of administering gun law from the purview of Police and it is to be placed in the hands of a new statutory body.

The Police were embarrassed during the select committee process by submitters showing that contrary to Police evidence about funding for licence renewals they were, in fact, raiding the kitty and applying significant funding to general policing instead of towards re-licencing.

Other areas that were an embarrassment to Police were the loss of a significant amount of data from the existing arms register, the massive privacy breach and the loss of actual firearms from Police possession.

The BFD. Cartoon credit: SonovaMin

Everyone but the Police minister acknowledges that the Police have abused and lost the trust of firearms owners, me included. The loss of trust will now see the ability of the Police to make significant changes to arms regulations curtailed almost completely. None of these changes would have been possible without the handbrake, and there is no way that these changes will be able to be passed before March 15.

The handbrake works. Credit where credit is due. We will now watch what happens with Ihumatao and the gun laws.

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