I’m no fan of The Spinoff. They’re NZs middle class millennial micro-aggression policing blog for those with too many avocados, but when they’re right, they’re right.
Their damning investigation into the total rort of the Gold Card for the Waiheke Island ferry is jaw dropping in its audacity.
The great Waiheke Island ferry rort
Winston Peters’ bauble from the 2005 coalition agreement allows for discounts on many items, along with free public transport for its 600,000 holders.
For much of the country this is busses and trains, often limited to off-peak times and thus a very defensible effort to allow older people to get around when the load on transport networks is relatively low. In Auckland though, after 9am, it means ferries too – including the 23 kilometre trip from the city’s Downtown Ferry Terminal to Matiatia wharf in Oneroa.
This has created a quite extraordinary situation in which one of the country’s prettiest and priciest commutes, from one of the most expensive suburbs in the country, costs a select group of its users exactly nothing.
Which is not to say that it’s free. You and I and every other taxpayer in country contribute as much as $1.9m a year – from a total Supergold national travel budget of $28m – to this one narrow trip.
The Supergold card, Winston’s brilliant election bribe for the oldies, is one of the great political coups in NZ history. Every time the blue rinse brigade pull out their Gold card and get free public transport they thank Winston and shed a tear, light him a candle and vote NZ First every 3 years.
The argument that our elderly should be able to travel free on public transport is valid and shouldn’t be compromised, neither should their discounts on other items. Being a superannuitant isn’t all clover and honey and it has done a lot to offset the worst elements of living on the pittance that’s paid out as the pension, but as Duncan Greive devastatingly points out, the wealthy old who frolic on Waiheke Island are making a mockery of the values that underpin the Supergold Card.
It’s an outrageous rort that needs to come to an immediate end!
We all suspected the Waiheke Ferry Supergold Card scam was bad, but I don’t think anyone knew it was this bad.
Kudos to The Spinoff.