I'm quite excited to say that this week New Zealand has entered a new era. An era, where after years of bureaucracy, finally the Government has decided that Little Pieces of Paper don't matter.
In case you missed it, last week there was a furore over a Tuvaluan man who was receiving dialysis treatment at Auckland Hospital. The man was an overstayer, and under Ministry of Health guidelines, hospitals aren't allowed to provide such services for people who are in the country illegally.
You could say fair enough, after all there are scarce enough resources to go around those people in the country legally, and why should my gran miss out in favour of this guy.
You could say on the other hand that as human beings we have a moral and ethnical obligation to look after one another, regardless of their immigration status, and in fact New Zealand should open the doors to what is known as 'medical tourism', i.e. sick people coming in to the country knowing they'll be looked after by our philanthropic health system. What a dilemma for the Government: Pull the plug, let the man die, or risk the wrath of New Zealand First supporters everywhere.
Fortunately for the Government, Immigration Minister Lianne Dalziel found a way around it. By Ministerial edict she changed the man's immigration status by granting him a two-year work permit so his treatment could continue. Dalziel stated that just because the man hadn't filled in a piece of paper, to regularise his immigration status, she wasn't going to let that stand in the way of him receiving health care.
So, a precedent has been set. Pieces of paper, filled in or not, just don't matter anymore. Already cases of this newfound liberation are filing in from around the country.
There's been the case of a man in Kaitaia performing backyard hip-replacement surgery. The Medical Association have declined to bring a complaint against him, with the Association's President stating "Just because this man hasn't sat a few exams, I'm not going to let that prevent him from practicing medicine."
Yesterday, at the High Court in Wellington, Raymond James Pound had his case of possession of 300 tabs of LSD thrown out, with Justice Hammond ruling "Just because you had all these little bits of paper on you, I'm not going to make a big deal out of it."
After a fatal accident in Ohakune, police declined to press charges against a 30 year old unemployed man who was found to be driving while disqualified. Det Snr Sgt John Hamilton mused "Just because you don't got a driver's licence, I don't see why that should stand in your way."
All over this proud nation of ours people are burning certificates, diplomas, licences, passports and records with joy. Finally, New Zealand is free.
NB: Since I wrote this piece the newspapers have had a field day with the fact that the Tuvaluan man, formerly described as a dedicated father and husband, now appears to be on charges for assaulting his wife. Should he stay or should he go? I'm not going near this one with a bargepole...