Now everyone's a hero
Spending $3.85 million on medals for just showing up? For CMT? 160,000 are eligible? The Queen has to give approval? FFS. I hope she tells him to naff off.
As NZ's military operations since Vietnam have increasingly become restricted to small-scale peace-keeping stints and the opportunities for combat have shrivelled to little more than exchanging terse words across a local official's desk and slightly awkward receptions in the village square the government has sought to keep up the awarding of medals for other things - lately retrospective honouring has been the in thing. This, I think, is due to three reasons:
Firstly a notion that because women were not able to be involved in combat action and excluded from many roles in the military - and therefore were ineligible for many classes of medal - it was a form of sexist discrimination that ought to be remedied by way of finding reasons to give them medals to elevate the status of their contribution.
Secondly, a detached historian's viewpoint that the logistical and homefront operations were more important to the war effort than was previously acknowledged by the chaps with bushy moustaches on the General Staff.
Thirdly, the dwindling numbers of veterans from the WWII-Korea era compared with non-combat veterans and other service personnel who could lobby for medals with less resistance from the combat group.
Nowadays anyone who was alive at the time of World War II is treated as some sort of patriotic hero. Having been in any sort of uniform at the time is enough - a school milk monitor during the autumn of 1944 was rendering a vital wartime service and there will no doubt be a medal dished out for it if the logic of the government's course is followed through. Elevating these mundane tasks actually debases the real service medals in my opinion; but if an Army officer working as a clerk in a back office in Petone who only ever faced the harm of a paper cut during an overseas conflict gets to wear a medal for having been part of it then yes, why not extend that across other branches of the military industrial complex and other job descriptions?
However... the thought that the likes of my (pacifist, hippy) father can now pin a bloody medal to their chests - all for their month or two (of what he described as fun) at a camp in Papakura as a teenager - and can now parade down the road on ANZAC Day and into the RSA as if they were Charley bloody Upham is just too much! 160,000 instant Kiwi heros, eh. 160,000 decorated servicemen and women, eh. Instantly. For $3.85m it would be cheaper to just contract Sanitarium to make them out of plastic and distribute them them all in boxes of Weet-bix for all the credibility this operation has.
However... politically, as a Christmas present from John Key via the Queen, it will probably prove a great self-esteem boost for a lot of middle-aged men who feel undervalued and maligned in a changing world and bring on a sense of nationalism, conservatism and nostalgia that can only help the Tories. For those surviving spouses and children applying it will also have much the same effect. Those clever bastards.