My two readers may recall that last year I criticised Sideshow Bob for political grandstanding over the issue of boy racers. It was apparent that the unpopular Mayor Bob was using the boy racer issue as a way to boost his profile and score a few brownie points with Christchurch ratepayers. Law and order-related issues are, of course, always big favourites with opportunistic politicians.

Bob's grandstanding reached a new low point when The Press published a large front page photo of him standing in the middle of a Canterbury road, arms folded, trying to look tough. I'm sure that photo will turn up as part of Sideshow's next mayoral campaign.

Then Sideshow proceeded to ban the boy racers from various city streets - which just resulted in them going elsewhere.

Government minister Clayton Cosgrove also jumped on the boy racer bandwagon and introduced his "boy racer" private members bill into Parliament with tougher penalties This passed with cross-party support.

But the situation didn't get any better and, as we have seen this past week, has just deteriorated further.

Sideshow Bob has labelled the boy racers as 'ugly, immature and embarrassing'. This might go down a treat with Mr and Mrs Plumbly-Walker of Fendalton but it has just further inflamed an already charged situation.

Minister Judith Collins, also engaging in some political posturing, hasn't helped with her authoritarian threats to crush the cars.

Tony Milne, on his I See Red blog asks:

'What will solve the problem, or create a situation where the noise, the nuisance, the rubbish, the danger is minimised? Is crushing cars, removing licenses and throwing these "boy racers" into prison (as John Key, Judith Collins, the police and others are suggesting) really going to solve the problem, or will it create an even worse situation? Where is the evidence, the research, the analysis?'

Milne is right - what we have witnessed in the last few days is a whole lot of kneejerk reaction, and a whole lot of political opportunism.

Sideshow Bob never bothered to talk with council tenants when he attempted to hike up their rents, similarly there's been no dialogue with the boy racers. Parker has simply launched a number of attacks in the media against the car enthusiasts and called for more heavy-handed action from the government.

The boy racers have reacted to Sideshow's comments by revving up their cars outside his central city apartment.

A Canterbury University academic who studies car culture, Associate Professor Simon Kingham, has brought some sanity to the whole affair with his call for dialogue between the authorities and the boy racers.

He says that Parker's comment that the boy racers were 'ugly, immature and embarrassing' was a unhelpful generalisation. He went on to say that "to associate them with the guys who had a go at the police is tarnishing them all with the same brush.'

Simply trying to bash down the boy racers with more laws and more aggressive police action is not to going to alleviate the situation - in fact will just inflame it even more.

I've talked to one of two boy racers in recent times - although I'm not sure how someone in their mid-20s can be called a 'boy racer'. They are not the violent hoons that Bob Parker and Judith Collins say they are.

They are largely just working class youth who like cars and like parading them with their fellow car enthusiasts on Friday and Saturday nights. They are not interested in Ellerslie Garden Shows and Busker's Festivals - they get their kicks from cars.

One boy racer I talked to freely admitted that there were some who wanted to push the police to the limit but he said they were in a minority - but he also added that he wasn't going to be pushed around by Parker and his mates.

His girlfriend said that Parker just wanted to stop them having fun and he should stop poking his nose into their lives.

'He should have stayed over in Akaroa,' she told me. I agree with her for a variety of reasons!

Associate Professor Kingham is right. Its time for the political posturing to stop and for some real dialogue to start.

It would be just great if Parker stopped talking about the boy racers as if they were something he had just scraped from the soles of his expensive Italian shoes.


  1. More reactionary bullshit from the 'reactionary right', which just goes to show the country has turned into one giant RadioLive show.

    All Parker is doing is creating an 'us vs them' city, its the same bullshit they pull when it comes to gangs, it's all designed to de-humanize this sector of society.

    While I dont share the enjoyment in cars, I almost feel compelled to their cause because no one in authority wants to listen to them. This council finds the money to bail out white collar criminals like Dave Henderson but it cant seem to find a cent to trial something like a strip outside of the city that might actually help.

  2. I'm afraid you're both wrong here.
    ratepayers forked over in the region of $80,000 back in 2001- 2002 to build a Burnout pad at Ruapuna . It has sat idle now for years. Boyracers aren't interested in it and the leasees of the land its on ( Speedway) refused to have them back ( after initially being VERY keen on it) because of the trouble they caused and vandalism.

  3. Yeah, but wasn't it only available at specfic times - not on Friday and Saturday nights. Nost of the trouble is generated on these nights and I don't think Ruapuna addressed this at all.
    Also, we're talking youth culture here and it was just not 'cool' to be herded out to Ruapuna by the authorities.


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