Alf despairs (often) about the inability of his fellow politicians to think clearly.
A good example of his colleagues going seriously off the rails has popped into the headlines today.
People who travel overseas to have sex with children will face a “strike” towards life imprisonment under new proposals that widen the net of the three strikes bill.
Alf wasn’t around, when the Sentencing and Parole Reform Bill – under which criminals would be sentenced to life imprisonment without parole on third conviction for any of 40 qualifying offences – was reported back from select committee yesterday.
He has not had time yet to check exactly what’s in the report.
But based on the Herald report, he has two objections, which his many admirers will find astonishing, because he is so robustly hostile to offenders on law and order issues.
First, the Herald tells him the proposed penalty would apply to people who travel overseas to have sex with children.
So what happens if they change their minds, having landed in some foreign city and decided they don’t much fancy having sex with the local brats?
Is it an intent to have sex with children that is bugging the committee?
And if so, how will we know what is intended by Kiwis travelling overseas?
Even if the committee wants to zap the buggers under the three strikes law only when it is proven they have had sex with children overseas, Alf raises objections.
It’s a matter of principle, and Alf’s admirers do respect him for being a battler on points of principle.
When it comes to this particular offence – having sex with children – make no mistake. Alf is repulsed. It is an offence that calls for an extreme punishment, including castration.
But prosecuting and punishing offenders overseas is a matter for the authorities in the countries where an offence is committed.
We set a bothersome precedent when we start prosecuting and punishing offenders in this country, regardless of where the crime was committed.
Before too bloody long the list will have grown.
Next thing – who knows? – poor old Alf will find he is arrested on his return home for having carried a hip flask of whisky into a country like Saudi Arabia. Or for smoking a bit of dope in the Netherlands, where the practice is perfectly legal.
It’s all very well to huff and puff about a crime that (quite properly) repulses us. But we start to stretch our law and order resources unreasonably – and raise our ambitions unrealistically – when we determine to try to stamp out an offence globally.
The do-gooders among us will soon be trying to similarly stamp out all sorts of crime around the world.
Act MP David Garrett, who drafted the original bill, said although it was weaker than the original, it was still an improvement.
“I am pleased. What we are going to have is a huge advance on what we have now, where people can commit dozens of offences and still be sent to jail for three, four, five years. That will be a thing of the past, and that can only be good.”
He is a zealot, this Garrett bugger. You can be sure he will be trying to get more crimes into the three strikes legislation and he probably doesn’t much care whether the offences were in fact committed, or in which country they might have been committed.
And soon there will be more of us in prison than outside, and those who are on the outside will be avoiding overseas travel, lest the authorities suspect them as people going overseas to do one of many, many things on a huge and growing list.
Mind you, it might put a halt to Hone Harawira’s jet-setting.