After the last few weeks of news in NZ, we can at last get back to discussing the really important things in life, like where we might put a light rail system through Central Wellington, what we should do with parking for 40 cars in Lower Cuba St, and whether a car can indeed travel at a slow 5kph indeed, and how you would tell if it exceeded the speed limit if your speedo doesn’t start till 20kph. Far less engrossing indeed than debating how the colour of David Bain’s jerseys was a sign of an impending mass murderer, or whether a man can murder his family without taking a piss-stop, but really, the result boils down to this: just how lucky is Bain to have found the only 12 people in NZ who thought he was innocent – and have them sitting in on his jury. I haven’t met anyone all through the trial that thought he was looking anything other than very very guilty – and the rabid day-time blogs are running 100% against him, still, but the big thing for me is that no one seems to equate what the cost is in terms of things we can understand. OJ Simpson was found not guilty as well, but no one believes for a second that he was anything other than guilty. At least they asked OJ if he was guilty or not – at this bizarre trial of ours, there was only one witness who could tell what happened, and he wasn’t asked to say a single word.

There’s a legal aid bill of at least $2 million, Crown costs of many millions as well, 150 prosecution witnesses time (although none of them were even there), and with estimated costs running at up to $500,000 per day, and a trial length of 57 days, with about a year or more of pre-trial legal costs as well, we’re looking at a cost to the NZ tax-payer of some $20-$30 million for this elaborate waste of time. So what else could we do with, say, $25 million?

$25 million could build us a fairly nice, green office building in central Wellington. It could build us a new Supreme Court, or at least half the cost of doing up the old Court building so that it could sit there empty and have school children going through. It could be added to the National Library refurb cost so that WaM could do their full Monty python external glitterbug version, winking in unison with giant videos at the empty cathedral opposite. $25 million could have bought us an Inner City Bypass that was underground and therefore unimpeded by cross town traffic, and it no doubt could bring us a second tunnel through Mount Victoria to let those busy commuters zip fleetingly from city to airport. $25 million could let us do the Manners Mall upgrade twice over, so that we can get it wrong at least once and then have another crack at the cherry. $25 million could get us a seventh of a Light Rail system from the Railway Station to the Airport – that has to be at least as far as from Bunny St to Willis St, which would be better than nothing.

But we won’t have any of that, because “justice has no price.” What a load of baloney. Can you imagine saying to your client that money is no object, because “architecture has no price” ? That should go down rather well, I’d imagine (not).

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