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August 13, 2012 | by  | in Opinion |
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Political Porn With Hamish

Hot Topics: The Weekly Round-Up

WAR ON TOBACCO

Tariana Turia’s quest to achieve something in Parliament has seen her wage war on big tobacco, restricting the display and advertisement of tobacco in shops around the country. The policy goes further than similar laws seen in other jurisdictions, restricting not only the display on cigarettes but also cigars. It has forced stores to change their name if they mention the word tobacco in it. As such, the former Thorndon City Shop Discount Tobacconist on Molesworth Street is now sporting the sign “Thorndon City Shop Discount Nist”.

The Ministry of Health argues that the retail display of tobacco products should be considered to be a “promotional tool and a form of advertising.” (http://bit.ly/HYcihg) This is due to earlier introduced prohibitions on tobacco advertising, meaning the tobacco companies intensified their marketing efforts into cigarette packaging.

It’s hard to see how such reasoning can be extended to the display of cigars, whose only branding exists in the form of a small band which cannot be viewed clearly unless held by an individual. The government should have considered adopting a similar law to that which exists in British Columbia, Canada, whereby stores are still permitted to display tobacco products if they exclude minors from the premises. This would still allow informed adults to make informed decisions in locations such as liquor stores and specialist tobacconists rather than using the heavy hand of paternalism to regulate all situations.

On a lighter note, it appears some Wellington retailers are still to keep up with the developments in the law. LAWS 123 students may wish to apply their statutory interpretation skills to a Cuba St restaurant who has a blackboard near the bucket fountain—although the management may have simply identified a clever loophole.

KEY UNTOUCHABLE

National’s back up in the polls, despite hope from the left that the tide was turning. John Key’s ridden out the respective storms of asset sales and John Banks, indicating the public unease over the issues was only short-term.

In a related event last week, Duncan Garner blogged about Labour MPs deriding potential leadership challenger David Cunliffe, whose apparent caucus, and state sector, nickname is “silent t”. Russel Norman and Winston Peters have both been referred to as “the real Leader of the Opposition” this year and the heat is back on David Shearer’s performance as Labour leader.

With a re-jig to the way the Labour Party elects its Parliamentary Leader—shifting from caucus only vote to members and union voting, the apparent motive behind the backstabbing is to prevent newly enfranchised groups outside caucus from voting Cunliffe in as leader—or to simply scare him off challenging Shearer.

ANZAC DAY

State Highway 1’s intersection of the National War Memorial is to be no more, with the governent to stump up $70 million to create a cut-and-cover tunnel. This will create a new park, joining the current non- descript park up with the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior—all at the expense of carparking for Massey Students.

It’s a shame there has been no further talk of going the whole hog and adopting Option X as the solution to roading issues slightly east of Buckle St at the Basin Reserve. When residents were consulted on proposed upgrades around the Basin, well over half indicated supported for Option X, despite it not appearing on the consultation document.

OLYMPICS NO-SHOW

The New Zealand Olympic’s team had one surprise omission: John Key.

The Prime Minister has recently become known for his fondness in being photographed alongside our most successful athletes, so, it was astonishing to see him opt to be in Wellington rather than London recently. Perhaps, like Valerie Adams, he is lamenting an administrative oversight?

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