If Anne Tolley wasn’t such a plod, her Labour counterpart might now be locked up

"Oh dear, I can't find the key."

“And then I will throw away the key.”

It’s disappointing to say this about a colleague, but Police Minister Anne Tolley being much too blinkered about shadow police minister Jacinda Ardern.

What’s more, she seriously lacks imagination.

As a consequence of her somewhat plodding approach to denying her Labour opponent access to the country’s cop shops, Ardern has gained media coverage by bleating about being “banned” from visiting police stations.

If Tolley had allowed the visits to proceed, members of the public would have no cause to wonder if the Minister is being much too authoritarian and Ardern hard done by.

Ardern apparently has been touring prisons and police stations across the country since becoming police and corrections spokeswoman in September.

It would have been a good idea to encourage this touring, perhaps even facilitating visits to prisons and police stations in overseas countries, for good measure.

Alf hears they have splendid police cells in Afghanistan and Syria.

While she is touring, she can’t be a pain in the arse in Parliament.

But we Nats missed the bus with this simple strategy aimed at getting Ardern out of the way. As a consequence, according to the NZ Herald…

She booked a visit to the Nelson police station with local MP Maryan Street this month, but Police Minister Anne Tolley vetoed the appointment.

“I’m not requesting tours of the station or the police cells,” Ms Ardern said.

“This is literally a 40-minute chat, informal. I don’t need to see the district commander, just someone who has a good grasp of the issues that are affecting people locally.”

But the short-sighted Anne Tolley has spoken to Police Commissioner Peter Marshall about MPs’ visits to police stations, which usually require a district commander to attend.

Then she has written a letter to Ardern to deliver the veto.

The minister said: “The summer period is an extremely busy time of year for the police as they prepare for potential operations over the Christmas period, increased traffic on our roads and an increased number of events across the country that require a police presence.

“For this reason the Police Commissioner has advised me that it is not a good use of police time to facilitate visits by members of Parliament during this period and that requests to visit will likely be declined.”

Ardern, inevitably, has got all huffy about this and is banging on to the political hacks about Tolley overstepping the mark.

“This is not about us politicising the police, it is about us doing our job.”

The public have learned – thanks to this fuss – that non-local MPs are expected to get permission from the relevant minister to make official visits to police stations.

But electorate MPs can arrange to visit police stations at any time without seeking ministerial permission.

Ardern reckons those rules need not apply in her case.

“I’m not requesting tours of the station or the police cells,” Ms Ardern said.

“This is literally a 40-minute chat, informal. I don’t need to see the district commander, just someone who has a good grasp of the issues that are affecting people locally.”

If Alf had been the Minister, he would have been an enthusiastic champion of visits to police stations by all Labour MPs.

He would have encouraged the cops to make sure the visiting pinkoes were allowed to inspect the cells.

And once the visitors were peering into the dunny or examining the bedding, he would have arranged for the cell doors to be slammed shut and tightly locked.

It would be fascinating to see if anyone noticed someone like Ardern had disappeared.

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One Response to If Anne Tolley wasn’t such a plod, her Labour counterpart might now be locked up

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