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A View on Politics by a Sports Reporter

Hard To Fault Anything Here
BY: Martin Devlin
Drive Talkback Host & Contributing Writer

July 5th, 2023
 
There’s a really good reason I only talk/write about sport.
It’s   because sport, for me, is an escape. 
The utter unimportance of   something taken as so seriously important is the exact kind of absurdity I thrive on. 
 
Sport allows, for however minuscule be the   moments, our minds to drift away from the humdrum of everyday life, a life that for most here in NZ has increasingly become a struggle for cost survival. Ask yourself.
 
Who isn’t feeling the economic squeeze?
 
The mile long queues at service stations on Friday 30th June were the   most obvious indicator yet that for many many Kiwis right now life is   about nothing but paying the bills and trying to keep the financial head above water.
 
There’s a reason I concentrate on sport.
 
Because I  resent this current government and everyone in it responsible for the  state our country is in right now.
 
No I’m not anti-Labour. 
 
Not at all. In fact since 1984 when I first was able to vote general election I’ve ticked red more often that not.
 
I grew up in the Labour stronghold of Upper Hutt in a working class   family that has always voted Labour. 
 
What I am is anti-incompetence.
 
Six years this current lot have been in power and no-one can honestly   say we are better off as a country, either individually or   collectively, than we were when their coalition was voted in.
 
No-one can seriously suggest that we are.
 
I measure this by asking the most basic appropriate economic question: Are those at the bottom of the NZ economic ladder better off now than  they were six years ago?

I have close family members who would be described by govt agencies 
 as being in the (very) lower socio-economic groups they monitor.
 
Without naming their names, they live very much week-to-week  hand-to-mouth. 
 
Some are on benefits, some exist on minimum wage.
 
Arriving at payday with $2.08 left in the account and zero food in  the  fridge is the norm. Being behind in all your bills, bleeding the   overdraft and never being able to pay that back is simply called life as they know it.  Saving to buy a house involves buying a Lotto ticket.
 Queueing for hours before petrol went up another 29c a litre was   considered essential.

Here’s how New Zealand looks to me at this current time.

I live in a central Auckland suburb. We have a crime wave in this city at levels I’ve never seen before. I’m 59yo and have lived (mostly) here since 1987, full-time since ‘98.
 
I’m talking street crime, violence, robberies, a total BRAZEN disregard and disrespect for other people and their property. 
 
Personally I’ve been the victim   of an attempted hit-and-run. That was last year. 
 
Despite three   separate witnesses and managing to record the guy’s number plate the police never came. Twelve weeks later after persistent calling to them   we were granted an appointment and were told that a random nutbar mounting the footpath and trying to run two of us over was “not worth   taking to court”. 
 
They didn’t want to pursue a conviction because of  the driver’s “immigrant status”.  “You two won’t get any justice” is  what we were told.
 
I didn’t in fact want a conviction I just wanted  him locked up somewhere so he couldn’t pull the same stunt again. Unsurprisingly the offender HAD tried something similar before and  “was on our books” (police words).

The previous suburb I lived in until earlier this year was Kingsland,  a stone’s throw from Eden Park. The main road saw six ram  raids in  three months, most of them posted and boasted about on  TikTok. 
 
I’ve  seen people brazenly walk into a service station and  just rob the  shelves without a care in the world, not covering their  faces and  eating the spoils while leaning on their car afterwards  outside by the  bowser. The police never came. 
 
I’ve seen scum losers  ripping open  courier packages clearly not theirs that they’ve stolen off a porch  while walking past and discard the contents down the  street. The  police never came. 
 
These sorts of stories are now  commonplace in  Auckland.
 
Every week you’ll hear of several brazen  thefts of trolley  loads of groceries from suburban supermarkets.
 
Where staff members  give up trying to apprehend these thieves for  fear of violent  reprisal. Auckland for my mind is largely lawless.
 
Ask anyone you know  who lives close to the central city whether they  feel safe walking  around Queen St at night. 
 
They’ll laugh in your  face. 
 
At Xmas last  year I spent time in both NY and DC. I felt  totally safe wandering the  streets and catching public transport anytime of the day or night.
 
Same for when I was in Tokyo in 2019. Massive uber sized cities where   a police presence is visible, where you feel genuinely safe.
 
That is not NZ anymore. That is the reality of life here in Auckland. 
 
Again,  ask yourself. Would you be happy with your wife/gf/partner walking   home from the Viaduct by herself in Auckland at night? 
Why not? Aren’t   we meant to feel safe walking around our city’s streets no matter what   time of day it is? 
 
Are you happy with the idea of your children  walking around Auckland suburban streets after dark? 
 
Why not? 
 
What is there to fear? WE all know the answer to these questions: BECAUSE IT   IS NOT SAFE. 
 
There is no visible police presence anywhere. Unless   they’re revenue collecting ticketing traffic. 
 
You fear becoming   another victim of crime. That is the reality of life here in Auckland.

 We have rampant inflation. Petrol’s just gone up 29c a litre. It costs $5 for a capsicum at the supermarket.  You do your grocery   shopping, fill up four bags and it’s $250 or more. 
 
We ALL know how much the price of basic foodstuffs has increased this last 12 months.
 
Don’t even try and deny it. We pay record prices for power, cell   phones, our interest rates on mortgages are among the highest in the   western world. We have truancy rates among the worst in the OECD. 
 
On  the news last week I listened incredulously as the Education Minister  was celebrating the fact that “60% of students
 attended the first term   of the year”.
 
What. The. F? We all remember when not going to school   was NEVER even an afterthought, you simply HAD to go. 
 
We murder a  child here in NZ every few days. 
 
Our domestic violence rates are the   highest in the western world. 
We have what the Ministry of Health calls “an obesity epidemic”. 
One in eight kids, so the Ministry says,  “live in a household where there isn’t enough food”. 
 
Our road toll is  a national disgrace. In fact our roads, including state highways, are   full of potholes that never seem to get fixed.
 
Every time it heavily rains in Auckland raw sewage pumps into the harbour. 
 
Every time it heavily rains the same drains which weren’t cleared last time overflow   and flood around the same houses and businesses that copped it in  January. 
 
For every two people who work in this country we subsidise   someone who chooses to be unemployed or is simply too lazy or incompetent or incapable of working. 
 
And all our government can think  of is banning single serve plastic bags in the supermarket and giggle while one of its own ministers no less accuses every tax-paying   non-crime-committing white man in this country of being a violent  colonial rapist.

I’m not making any of this up. It’s all true.
 
Six years of this   current government and are we any better off than we were six years ago? Stop it. 
 
If you seriously believe we are your brain is a horse’s  backside. 
 
Meanwhile our former beloved leader swans around the world   signing million dollar book deals to tell the planet how fabulous she  was at landing us all in this mess. 
 
Nice for some.
 
Last year while on  another PR junket Jacinda was appearing on USTV talk shows boasting  about how she’d “solved gun crime” in NZ.  Meanwhile every night   Auckland was witnessing drive-by’s amid an ongoing gang war. And the paid-for-coverage media riding alongside on her junket slavishly  reported this rubbish as “fact”.

New Zealand right now is a crap basket. 
 
That’s the beautiful country I have always loved and adored. WE have a PM belting us about climate change who flies a spare plane up to China with no-one on it. 
 
Oh the blatant hypocrisy. 
 
We have a parliament, and that’s ALL of them, who  do nothing but bicker, fight, catcall and waste billions of our precious tax dollars on pointless projects many of which (like the   nonsensical TVNZ/RNZ merger) never even come to fruition.
 
This is NZ  right now. This is where we are after six years of the current   government. 
 
Yet our sycophantic politically-biased hide-everything tell-no-truth take-the-PIJ-money-to-buy-silence “legacy media” won’t 
 ever report it. There are very good reasons why I don’t/won’t   talk/write about politics.

To quote an East London geezer mate:

“Because it’s a big bunch of butt-covering do-nothing bleedin’-pony   load of old bollocks”.
 
Martin Devlin is a veteran New Zealand radio and television broadcaster.
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