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Liberty Belle - Thu, 17 Feb 2005

Liberty Belle - Thu, 17 Feb 2005

Typically, many of the lunacy sightings concern traffic officers and their nazi-like behaviour. One of the worst came from a reader travelling on SH1 in a late model car driven by a respectable, middle-aged but one-armed driver who cannot wear a seatbelt as he needs to lean forward to use the indicators, etc, with his stump. "We get stopped by a traffic nazi who has observed our driver's not wearing a seatbelt."

The driver explains, waving his stump, that he's exempt because he's only got one arm. "Where's your medical certificate?" demands the cop.

"I don't need a medical certificate to prove I've only got one arm," again waving the stump. After much argument, huffing and puffing, the cop inspects the driver's licence; depth of tread on tyres, WOF and rego, then very grumpily (nothing to issue a ticket for) allows them to pass.

Then I was told of a burglary in a Wellington penthouse. Dressed as a workman, with protective hat and overalls, a stair-dancer gained access to the ceiling, dropped down into the apartment and helped himself to credit cards, jewellery, etc. Police were having a coffee in the ground floor café, watched this robber walk out and commented that his Louis Vuitton bags didn't really match his clothing. Oh, must be his lunchbox, they concluded, and carried on supping lattes while the thief wandered off. Whatever happened to the old "hello, hello, hello, what's this then?"

And this lunacy sighting is a cracker. Under the Animal Products Act, egg producers are now classified as meat processors. So Mr Perry Spiller, a free-range egg producer with 100 hens, has to collect the eggs wearing gloves, gumboots, overalls and a hairnet. "Collecting eggs and putting them in cartons is now defined as a method of meat processing. Are eggs liquid meat I ask you ?," he told a Hawke's Bay newspaper. Once Perry had 500 hens but ridiculous risk-management programmes and compliance costs are now putting him out of business. Come July and he's out.

Can you believe we pay grown-ups to sit in offices in Wellington dreaming up these nutty regulations? I know in some US states it's illegal to use soft-poached eggs in Caesar salads in case someone gets salmonella poisoning, but this is ridiculous. Must New Zealand insist on going down this cottonwool, risk-averse, wimpish, bureaucratic path to economic and cultural suicide? And I use the word cultural deliberately.

I grew up on a farm - feeding chooks, collecting eggs, milking cows, docking lambs, lambing ewes – barefoot, scantily clad and definitely no hairnet in sight. It's part of my culture and the culture of thousands of New Zealanders like me. We're losing it to the clutches of Nanny State. Maori claim their culture is a taonga under the Treaty of Waitangi, why should ours not be protected too?

Yours in liberty Deborah Coddington


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