Reconnecting Jacinda With Her Inner Swashbuckler.

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HOW DID 2019 END on such a jarring note of neoliberal bi-partisanship? With the Coalition and the Opposition united in their backing for a lavish spend-up on roads, roads, and more roads? It’s possible the two parliamentary groupings may diverge on the question of how all this bitumen should be paid for: directly by the state, or through Private-Public Partnerships (PPPs); but that’s about it in terms of potential disagreement. The year is ending on an apparently unanimous parliamentary assumption that trucks and cars will continue to provide New Zealanders with their prime means of transportation. With this slavish commitment to the automobile, the country’s political class has demonstrated its near-total moral incapacity. New Zealand’s claim to be taking Climate Change seriously stands exposed as utter bullshit.

Also exposed is Labour’s intellectual exhaustion. By returning to National’s pro-automobile vomit so shamelessly, Jacinda Ardern and her senior colleagues are essentially admitting that they lack the necessary competence to translate their promises of “transformation” into reality. It’s a fatal admission. By acknowledging that the big stuff is simply too much for them they have opened a royal road (if you’ll excuse the expression) along which Simon Bridges and his team can now motor to electoral victory.

Bridges’ script is pathetically easy to write: “National and Labour are in full agreement about what needs to be done in New Zealand. But, let’s be brutally honest, only one party possesses the competency required to do it. From KiwiBuild to the Provincial Growth Fund, the Labour-led Government has proved woefully inept. By the time the election rolls around, New Zealanders will be looking back at three wasted years. About the only things our Prime Minister and her Cabinet are good at is making promises, finding excuses and providing hugs. By contrast, National possesses both the will and the talent to get this country moving again – and that’s exactly what it’s going to do.”

Which is not to suggest that Bridges and his team won’t employ Topham Guerin Ltd to mastermind a complementary social media campaign. If the high road of “competency” fails to inspire, then the low road of crude emotional arousal will be primed and ready for all the traffic it can bear. Indeed, Ben Guerin and Sean Topham may advise Bridges to use both roads – at the same time. They’ve already proved they can do it – just ask Boris!

Labour, the Greens and NZ First could beat this style of campaigning easily – if they only had the will and the talent to get even a little bit creative on the propaganda front. But, that, alas, is where the party falls so woefully short. Unless he or she is being kept extremely well hidden, there just isn’t anyone in Labour’s ranks who even remotely fits the description of “a little bit creative”. How could there be? The culture of the Labour Party in 2020 is hardly what you’d call welcoming to the swashbuckler and the maverick. Its ideologically rigid and puritanical apparatchiks simply wouldn’t know what to do with a political gunslinger like Ben Guerin.

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Even if Jacinda intervened on behalf of the 2020 equivalent of Bob Harvey – the young swashbuckler who somehow persuaded Norman Kirk to take a punt on him in 1969 and who then proceeded to transform the public’s perceptions of both Labour and Kirk by deploying state-of-the-art advertising techniques – it’s doubtful he or she would last the distance. Ideological Orthodoxy and Art have never been the best of friends.

Which only leaves Jacinda, herself, to take on the role of the swashbuckler and maverick. Looking back, that’s exactly what she did in 2017. There just wasn’t the time – or the script – for anything other than Jacinda’s inspired, seat-of-the-pants, political acrobatics. The party had to let her carry more-or-less the whole campaign because it had nothing else to offer. When it did step back in – remember the sudden about face on the Capital Gains Tax, and the equally sudden reversal of the about-face? – it succeeded only in slowing Jacinda’s momentum and carving 3-4 percentage points off Labour’s final tally of Party Votes.

The best we can hope for is that Jacinda will be put in touch with someone with the same insouciant brilliance as Ben Guerin. Someone who simply doesn’t care if what he’s pushing out there is politically correct or incorrect – only that it works. Only if it causes the person scrolling-down his or her device to stop and read Labour’s latest post. That means engaging them at the level of the heart – not the head. To win “The Battle of the Thumbs”, as Guerin calls this struggle to hold the modern voter’s attention, you don’t have time to make them think – so you have to make them feel.

In the last, crucial days of the UK general Election, Topham Guerin Ltd’s brilliant parody of “Love Actually” was watched by more than 7 million British voters. It held them spellbound for the few minutes it took the equally brilliant Boris Johnson to give them his simple, but winning, messages. “The other guy could win.”, and “Get Brexit done”. Jacinda has the skills to do something similar – just ask Stephen Colbert! The $64,000 question, however, is: “Does she have anyone smart enough, and creative enough, to come up with an idea that good?”

Because, if all Jacinda has to take to the electorate in September 2020 is an automobile-driven infrastructure programme borrowed wholesale from the last National Government, then Simon Bridges is going to make sure that being the prime minister of a one-term Labour government is the only thing she has in common with Norman Kirk.

When Jacinda stood in the Auckland Town Hall in 2017 and proclaimed Climate Change “the nuclear-free moment of my generation” – how we all cheered.

The thing is, we were expecting her commitment to amount to something more than the well-meaning but toothless Zero Carbon Act. Something like announcing a completely new, wider-gauge, electrified, national rail network. An infrastructure programme that would allow New Zealand to replicate the ultra-fast trains that move people around Europe, China and Japan. Something to put the greenhouse-gas pumping road transport industry out to pasture. Something more than a plan to build roads, roads and more roads.

Something to make young and old alike exclaim, at least one more time: “Let’s do this!”

39 COMMENTS

  1. Ignoring the data and reports on poverty whilst shovelling out billions to business.
    Minister for Ensuring Childhood Poverty?

    • @Sea, The government are getting sensors to check their house is warm and dry, if they are lucky to have a house that is, because apparently record numbers waiting for rental properties…

      It would be worse under Natz as they would have sold more state houses to mates, but still extremely depressing that COL are so useless and actually trying to take more rental properties out of circulation because the houses that everyone over 40 years grew up in, is not good enough for their middle class, sensibilities and need upgrading to gold standards! Not going to put up rents tho, the money comes out of thin air like the new houses. Sarcasm.

  2. You got that woefully wrong Chris sorry;.

    The “roading” spend is a smoke screen; – just briefly to apppease the trucking lobby only with the sinny new CEO of RTA Nick Leggitt the “Ghost of Steven Joyce” as he thinks that the coalition Government are still heading down “Nationals plans to cause widespead annihilation of the regional rail fright and passenger servoces”, in favour of more tarseal.

    But the coalition are now frantically restoring all the regional rail services and at the same time setting trucking up to fail as rail freight/passenger sercices comes back into fashion again.

    I wrote about this issue two days ago on the ‘scoop’ site.

    (See below) and we want you to read the press release we sent out for all to see what needs ytto be completed to fullful the transport :transformation” back to rail.

    Merry Xmas Chris to you and your family.

    Thanks for the many mind involving posts you made through this year they were very enlighting indeed.

    We look forward to seeing you on a passenger train sometime to Gisborne in 2021 Chris.

    Enjoy the long read on rail’s good news stories here below. (We even have the bussiness communiy on board now with using rail) which is a positive sign.

    https://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/AK1912/S00485/pgfberl-report-confirms-rail-is-essential-to-east-coast.htm

    Regional
    PGF/BERL report confirms rail is essential to East Coast
    Monday, 16 December 2019, 4:34 pm
    Press Release: Citizens Environmental Advocacy Centre
    Subject; “PGF/BERL report confirms rail is essential to our East coast region”
    https://berl.co.nz/research/reconnecting-gisborne

    The just released PGF/BERL rail viability report was the most comprehensive analysis of the rail transport option conducted since the Gisborne rail line closed in 2012.

    The PGF/BERL feasibility report is strongly favourable of restoring rail services in the report released today, so our community request Gisborne Council must support it.
    Why?
    Because the 100 page BERL study outlines many reasons; https://berl.co.nz/research/reconnecting-gisborne
    Most importantly for focusing on the ‘community wellbeing’ approach outlined in the four categories covered in the ‘Local Government wellbeing act,’ as the purpose of Local government is to consider; social, cultural, economic and environmental tenants.
    • Security of rail transport is essential to ensure our region’s economic growth for several reasons now confirmed in the report.

    • Choice of transport modality is important to export and industry activities as choice of transport drives down transport cost due to competition.

    • Cost of road maintenance and fatalities is also reduced by using rail.

    • Lower climate change emissions is a big benefit when rail is used.

    • Our community health and wellbeing in our whole community is enhanced using rail as a safe transport mode.

    • Our export products will be labelled as a ‘lower carbon footprint’ product, attracting higher producer profit from higher prices received globally.

    https://www.budget.govt.nz/budget/2019/wellbeing/transforming-economy/investing-in-rail.htm

    • Winston Peters “Rail makes a vital contribution to urban public transport. Moving more freight by rail is economically efficient, and reduces carbon emissions as well as deaths and serious injuries on our roads.

    • Transport Minister Phil Twyford says funding in this year’s Budget is just the first step to rebuilding rail as the backbone of a sustainable 21st century transport network, with a long-term national rail plan to be developed this year.”

    https://www.transport.govt.nz/assets/Import/Uploads/Research/Documents/Cabinet-Papers/d226bd2055/The-Future-of-Rail_cab-paper-June-2019.pdf

    • Page 25; Recommendations -101

    • (1) The Ministers recommend that you note that rail contributes to the national and regional economic growth and reduces emissions and congestion, reduces road deaths and injuries, facilitates wider social benefits and provides resilience and connection between communities.

    • (2) that you note the findings of the future of rail which recommend investment for resilient and reliable to rehabilitate heavy rail network and Kiwi rails freight and ferry business which is critical to ensure that rail is sufficiently resourced to deliver the benefits outlined in recommendation (1).

    The PGF/BERL report is very welcome to the Gisborne people of Tairawhiti, who have the right to know finally the truth of the importance of rail to our community’s health and wellbeing.
    We all support the reopening of the rail line. as BERL’s report now confirms that it is viable.
    To show our support for rail In a Gisborne Herald press rail poll conducted last April showed 85% of those polled wanted rail services for freight and passenger services returned to Gisborne, and that is significant.
    We are confident the new PGF/BERL ‘Gisborne rail viability study’ will finally be adopted and used to supporting the re-opening of the Gisborne rail service again after seven long anxious years of suffering.
    Why do we believe this?
    Our past history will now reveal why?
    The new BERL report was not “a whitewash” as our past Gisborne Councillor Manu Caddie called the failed 2014 MBIE/NZTA rail feasibility study was.
    We clearly saw that the NZTA/MBIE “whitewash study” was manufactured by Steven Joyce as an excuse to close rail as part of his policy of eventually closing down all regional rail services as he favoured the roads more than rail as a partnership.
    Steven Joyce was nicknamed “The tarmac king” for obvious reasons and his ghost around parliament still lingered long after he left government.
    Until a brave champion of the provinces and his boss (Shane Jones and Winston Peters) stuck up for rail in our provinces again.
    So now due to these gentlemen’s support this time the new 2019 ‘BERL Gisborne rail viability study’ will finally include;
    • the vitally essential rail evidence from the Government’s own (Principal Advisor of all transport modes) called the ‘Ministry of Transport’

    • With many rail viability reports contained as their references inside the BERL report.

    • These were not included in 2014 by MBIE/NZTA “whitewashed” study that factually & deliberately omitted those important government documented studies from that last 2014 ‘botched whitewashed cherry picked ‘National Party’ Gisborne rail report that MBIE/NZTA produced.

    URGENT; Government needs to properly commit more funding of our ‘Ministry of Transport’ so they can adequately embark on ‘new rail studies’ for our future security now also.
    In 2014 the “ghost of Steven Joyce” that deliberately botched that last rail viability report was a savage blow then against the hoped restoration of our Gisborne rail, and in turn severely injured the hopes and aspirations of all in our Gisborne communities for the last five years.
    Fact. Media wrongly call NZTA “The Transport agency”
    • NZTA is not “the transport agency”

    • NZTA is only a “road controlling agency” referred to as an (RCA) and NZTA should never again be used as a “rail advisory agency” – as it only deals with promoting new regional roads for trucks and definitely not for rail freight, as it regards roading as its only focus’ so it was a mistake to use NZTA for an ‘advisor’ for rail in the first place.. .

    • This 2014 rail report was a ‘phoney report’ full of omissions of evidence that would have supported rail, and was designed only to silence the Mayors of HB/Gisborne during their efforts to collectively go directly to Parliament in 2013 with a Public Gisborne petition signed by 10480 community members requesting Government to repair the Gisborne rail service.

    • The last National Government in 2014 was caught off guard with the over welling public show of support for the rail service that that they ‘hastily cobbled together this phoney’ “Gisborne Economic viability study” that was hollowed out with a thinly veiled view that it may support the need to restore their rail service but with not enough evidence to save the rail then, and we got stymied after the Mayors deputation to Wellington to meet with the then Minister of transport Steven Joyce and his sidekick Gerry Brownlee at their office.

    • The Mayors of HB and Gisborne were in fact given a big rat to shallow on that very day, and were given nothing but false promises to produce a “Gisborne rail viability study” instead of a real promise to reopen the rail line in 2014.

    http://www.gisborneherald.co.nz/local-news/20190928/bridges-no-fan-of-pgf-slush-fund/
    Simon Bridges Gisborne press release September 2019.
    Quote;
    “You’ve been one of the lucky few with roading investments, which nearly always move the dial.’’
    Speaking about the feasibility study suggesting the Wairoa-Gisborne rail line could have a freight future, Mr Bridges said his issue was whether the funding would have greater effect in Tairawhiti if spent elsewhere.
    National ‘‘would like to consider” having a water infrastructure fund directed at the productive sector and people living in Gisborne city.”
    Unquote.
    Result from Simon Bridges press from National = (Ghost of Steven Joyce) + no rail.
    http://www.gisborneherald.co.nz/local-news/20190930/signs-study-will-favour-rail-line-link/
    Never again should we ever trust the National Government when it comes to supporting Gisborne or HB over protecting our rights to have a rail service to our eastern provinces as it seems that ‘National are diametrically opposed to having a well-balanced rail service to our remote regions in every sense of those words’.
    CEAC–PGF Rail report confirms rail is essential to our East coast region.
    https://berl.co.nz/research/reconnecting-gisborne
    Thank you Coalition Government for giving Gisborne/HB hope again for returning our rail service to us all.

    https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/405652/millions-for-gisborne-rail-link-restoration-is-justified-report

    http://www.gisborneherald.co.nz/local-news/20191218/reinstate-rail-line/

    Subject: GH

    Gisborne Herald 18/12/2019

    ‘REINSTATE RAIL LINE’

    by Andrew Ashton
    Published December 18, 2019 1:29PM

    The mothballed Gisborne to Wairoa rail line could and should be reopened at a cost of at least $20 million, a long-awaited feasibility study says.
    Part of the Palmerston North to Gisborne line, the rail service between Napier and Gisborne was stopped in 2012 following storm damage. The section between Napier and Wairoa was reopened earlier this year following investment from the Provincial Growth Fund.
    A new study from business and economic research agency BERL recommends the line be reinstated.
    ‘Reinstatement of the Turanga ki Wairoa rail line is feasible from an engineering perspective and there is sufficient freight for five trains per week.’ BERL research director Dr Ganesh Nana said.
    The report found a one-off cost of between $20 million and $23 million would be required to make the line operational in the first instance.
    Additional works to improve the resilience of the line to adverse weather events would cost an additional $5m to $6m.
    Over the following 10 years, a further $5 million to $7 million would be required in additional bridge, tunnel and track works.
    The report said to achieve opening for the 2021/22 summer horticulture and log harvest peaks, reinstatement work would have to begin by April.
    The study did not focus on a direct cost-benefit analysis, favouring an approach that factored in ‘wellbeing’ impacts.
    It found those wellbeing impacts would involve reducing isolation of communities and a reduction in fatal road crashes.
    Economic wellbeing would be improved by transporting significant volumes of freight and developing tourism opportunities, which could also include cultural tourism.
    The report said tourism and other associated activities could be developed around sites of significance only accessible through the rail corridor.
    A full closure of the line would jeopardise access to those sites ‘which would degrade the level of cultural wellbeing of whanau, hapu, iwi and other communities of the Turanga and Wairoa districts’.
    In addition, a repaired line could enable Gisborne City Vintage Rail to extend the distance of its trips onboard the historic Wa165 steam train.
    It was also pointed out that a survey of Gisborne Chamber of Commerce members revealed 78 percent of businesses responding supported reinstatement. However, just 53 percent of respondents said they would use a rail service.
    Forty-seven percent of businesses also wanted to see a passenger service.
    The study concluded while commercial feasibility of the suggested service would need to be done in greater detail there was a ‘prima facie’ case established of the commercial feasibility of a reinstated rail service.
    ‘Consequently, our recommended option is for the community and associated stakeholders to pursue the reinstatement of the Turanga ki Wairoa rail line; to a resilient standard; to deliver regular containerised and log freight services; and to support tourism opportunities to be developed utilising the rail corridor.’
    An appendix report prepared by Nikki Searancke focusing on the Tairawhiti community perspective (inclusive of hapu and iwi) said whanau, hapu and iwi supported the reinstatement of the Turanga-Gisborne ki Wairoa rail line and how to gain future ownership if the government and KiwiRail failed.
    Tairawhiti Rail Ltd was also represented on the study steering group and representative Rick Thorpe said he was ‘very pleased’ with the recommendations.
    ‘The renaissance of rail as an integral component of a modern integrated transport system has been supported recently by the significant investment in new transport hubs and container terminals like Ruakura, Rolleston, Palmerston North and even Kawerau. Surely the exporters of Tairawhiti equally deserve a modern transport network that will reduce the cost of getting our products to market.’
    ‘We still have some number crunching to do but the preliminary costs suggest that rail will be the most cost-effective option to get containers to Port Napier and coastal shipping the most competitive to Port Tauranga. A win-win for our region.’
    Mr Thorpe said it was now up to stakeholders to come together to push a ‘best for region’ approach.
    ‘Given the timing of the report’s release we will start lobbying for ministerial funding approval in the new year.
    ‘The ‘best-for-region’ approach is to ensure all of our region’s stakeholders are united in their support for this project and we are presenting a united front to ministers. Clearly we would like to avoid the ‘mixed message’ issue now that the study has been completed and its recommendations are clear.
    ‘This government has signalled a significant infrastructural spend next year and we believe this project deserves to be included in the regional rail funding allocation.’
    Trust Tairawhiti chief executive Gavin Murphy said the trust, which also incorporates the region’s economic development agency, would work with interested parties where appropriate on the rail as part of best-for-region transport solutions.
    ‘As a member of the Tairawhiti Economic Action Plan steering group, we will discuss best solutions for our local businesses. We are, however, mindful that this is government infrastructure, so we will want to engage with them and understand their views on the business case and the potential of reinstatement.’
    Mayor Rehette Stoltz welcomed the report.
    ‘This is a valuable report which has clearly determined the feasibility of reinstating the rail line. It provides a strong case that doing so would help build resilience, address isolation, result in fewer truck movements on our roads and ultimately reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
    ‘The estimated cost to reinstate to a resilient level could be up to $29 million, so this project would require significant investment from the Government and other key stakeholders.
    ‘However, given the many wide-ranging benefits for our region I am supportive of the findings and hope that central government and KiwiRail will look positively towards reinstating the line.’
    KiwiRail capital projects chief operating officer David Gordon said KiwiRail was aware the report had been released and would study it carefully.
    ‘Until we have done that it would be premature for us to comment further.’
    Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones said he would consider the report.

    • that make alot of sense really good artical andrew the other thing i like is the infrastructure bill and infrastructure agency we have 60 billion in kiwi saver long term really stable money to invest we dont need to borrow the money off shore we just need the good projects and we can fund it ourselves and literally own the assets. pension funds make good long term owners there us and bloody national wont be able to loot. we can also keep the money in the country thats other thing people need to wake up and move kiwi saver from the Aussie banks there is a river of money leaving new zealand we can help by pulling our money from the Australian banks there a alot good things happening its all long term stuff.i think kiwisaver is going to transform nz if we get it right our money creating jobs owning our own country hell every month we are collectively buying the country back even the power companies nact sold it not all doom and gloom even climate change we need to change the way we live what an opportunity for start ups and jobs and we have the money to fund it. kiwi saver is sucking money from property investment and thats a good thing to unless your a boomer trying to cash up your perspective buyers pefer there savings in a rail project i know i do.

  3. Jacinda Ardern had just enough time as opposition leader before the last election to become known to the voters but not long enough to be seen through.
    Three years on she won’t have that luck. She will be the face of every COalition failure.

    And let’s not consider her election a landslide at 37%! Winston chose her over National and she became PM.

    So the transformative powers of Jacinda Arden are easily over-stated.

    • Ada,

      The blue army have been busy trying to milk a mouse since Ardern became a threat to them. When you say “every coalition failure”, you are showing your blatant bias. Yes, the coalition have made cock ups along the way but you show me one new Government that hasn’t made cock ups along the way? National have been trying to score “hits” against the Government all day every day for the last two years. What National won’t do is admit that their “hit jobs” are invariably, either total bullshit, completely exaggerated up in lights or total hypocrisy. Something else National don’t do is concede the Government have made any progress in any areas and that they themselves created absolute carnage for so many New Zealanders in their 9 years of not giving a flying fuck about anyone who was not a National Party supporter.

      Any leader who can take a party certain to lose big time in 2017 just weeks out from the election and turn it into victory is a leader you should take seriously. That is even more so when you consider Ardern was up against the very well oiled National Party machine desperate to retain power at any price. Even losing a family member three days before the election did not stop Ardern. The only thing that did stop Labour winning outright was the dirty politics “dead cat on the table” farcical 11 billion dollar fiscal hole that stopped all the momentum. Any leader that can hold a Government together made up of three very different parties and personalities is a serious leader. Ardern has relentlessly displayed wonderful leadership skills under extreme pressure but those drowning in bias and resentment are simply incapable of seeing and acknowledging what so many others can clearly see.

      Do you honestly believe that enough Kiwi’s have already forgotten the divisive NZ where selfish arrogant greed rules for National to get back in? Do you sincerely believe NZ is ready to be led by the vile Bridges, the most untrustworthy National Party leader they have ever had? Do you genuinely believe NZ is so over Ardern that they would replace her with the despicable Pullya Benefit? Clearly, arrogance knows no bounds.

      Truth is, in 2020, we can all look forward to another three years of tantrums from National and their cheerleaders that someone else has the audacity to Govern NZ.

      If National are serious about ever being Government again, they need to replace most of their ideas and much of their line up starting with the vile “Bs” Bridges , Bennett and Brownlee. Replacing them with Christopher Luxon being the answer is only relevant if the question is “what new leader will guarantee National lose again in 2023”?

    • I always had this theory that Labour did well at the election precisely because there wasn’t time for the human hand-breaks populating the party to make her more boring. Both David Cunliffe and Andrew Little arrived with enthusiasm and a substantial rise in the polls before the had all the pizzaz talked out of them by the Labour Party Mandarins.

      It’s possible that Andrew Little is an absolute genius and deliberately stepped down from the leadership at the perfect time to make Jacinda’s honeymoon period line up with the election campaign – while also giving the National Party too little time to come up with an attack campaign.

      It’s also possible that if Jacinda had become leader 1 year out that her bright start would have faded just like Little and Cunliffe’s did

    • Oh for fucks sake Ada. Key was exactly the same,plus he promised to not raise gst.The business round table and right wing media made certain Key remained in power throughout many a cockup. We desperately need to see another 3 year term from Labour. You fail to see the good that has been done as you clearly failed to tell of the increase in wages across the sectors, beneficiaries having a winter energy payment allowing for more spending on business. The wealthy don’t suffer because of this in fact you could say the wealth trickles up. I haven’t seen Jacinda pull any ponytails either . If you want to have a go at some of her ministers then that would be justified but Key had many that were fucking useless also.

  4. Jacinda Ardern had just enough time as opposition leader before the last election to become known to the voters but not long enough to be seen through.
    Three years on she won’t have that luck. She will be the face of every COalition failure.

    And let’s not consider her election a landslide at 37%! Winston chose her over National and she became PM.

    So the transformative powers of Jacinda Arden are easily over-stated.

  5. When you are in opposition you can apply whatever psycho-persuasion techniques you like. When you are in government too are constrained by the public’s instant reference to performance . “Why didn’t you then”? comes as the immediate response to any stated ambition.
    There is no Brexit question coming up to confuse our next election.
    D J S

  6. The planet is melting before our eyes. Record high temperatures are being set in all parts of the world, especially just over the ditch.
    And what do we get? – a commitment to build a whole lot more roads for a whole lot more cars that gobble up a whole lot more fuel and pump out a whole lot more CO2 into the atmosphere. Forget the crap about it being for goods transport. That is just a convenient excuse. It is for CARS, so that New Zealanders can do what they love best – drive to work in their petrol guzzling overpowered SUVs as fast as they can go without having to stop or turn corners.
    I hoped the Labour coalition would be different from their rabid predecessors, but it turns out there isn’t much substantial difference other than the personalities involved.
    This government have clearly shown just who actually runs the country: It is just the same as it was under National – the public service misanthropes, the Federated Farmer Cosanostra, Cayman Island billionaires and the Nathan Guy Build-more-roads Society.
    So what is the alternative?
    A National government?
    Some choice huh?
    Kind of like asking whether you would like an anaesthetic before you are shot. It might seem less painless but the end result will be the same.
    I have to say I am disappointed, bloody disappointed, but not really surprised.
    Long ago, I realised that we will never again get a government that has the political wisdom to decisively tackle the many problems our society and humanity in general faces, mainly because we ourselves lack the wisdom and maturity to elect such a government.

    • It’s the sad fate of every left-leaning Government to fail to live up to its supporters unrealistic expectations, and Mike’s no exception. So far as transport is concerned, this administration’s focus is on public transport, rail, road safety, and cycling rather than building roads of significance only to National.

      Having said that, there’s no question that the private car remains the majority of people’s choice of transport and pretending otherwise is certain electoral failure. Of course a government has to cater for an increasing population’s transport needs and expectations; we know from long experience that you can’t force people out of their cars with threats and exhortations about the common good. They have to want to move and that will occur when a reasonable alternative exists. As trains, buses and ferries in Auckland have become more efficient, the percentage of people working in the Auckland CBD has shifted from cars to public transport, which illustrates the point.

      This government has to work in coalition and that takes effort and time. It’s crucial that its supporters understand that good things take time. It’s equally naive and foolish to think that the appalling record of homelessness, poverty, mental illness, infrastructure decay and unemployment can be fixed in a couple of years. Rather than whinging about what hasn’t been done, Mike the Lefty, Chris and their mates should focus on what has been achieved and be glad that that direction is continuing.

      • Why are we still lefties when clearly the great left wing projects of the 20th century are a complete failure together with a more compassionate capitalism?

        As far as the mantra goes that more empathetic and non-violent politics just gets corrupted by neoliberal perverts deceiving, concealing and disguising the problems that were already there.

        Labour has had some success with public housing but overall the only real triumph of lefties in power is communist China, arguably the greatest economic success story in human history.

        What we get in China is a strong state and heavily regulated free market and this is the most efficient form of socialism today. The idea is the state becomes so autonomous it can provide for everyone but that’s not what’s happening. China is plagued with strikes, reeducation camps, mass arrests, disappearings, organ harvesting, massive corruption and so on and so on.

        There are many problems with in the left and all sorts of undercurrents and dissatisfaction, many of them will manifest in the way Ihumatau did. It’s a warning to this government not to underestimate the dissatisfaction in New Zealand. Beneath all the ideological and geopolitical tensions they all share the desire to hold onto power.

        All over New Zealand there is increasing dissatisfaction that can not be channeled into traditional modes of politics. What we must accept is a society deeply in a state of civil unrest.

        Lefties often fall prey to the exaggerated and misunderstanding of crises and nature specifically that capitalism can feed on its own crises so holding on to the idea that capitalism can be its own gravedigger. Except that democratic socialists have to push it over.

        So I am a leftie but what I am not is a politically correct feminist. Very simply if we want something new it will have to come from woman.

        Gentleman – Where the danger is greatest the point of salvation is near. This is the model for usual revolutionary thinking. Where there is zero chance to alleviate the climate crises and poverty but there is a chance that an all woman conference or feminist get together could turn things around for the coalition government in the next year.

        No matter how good the idea of democracy coming out of these get together we the working class must be ready that it will all go wrong somehow. What ever happened to the great left wing projects of the 20th century, the working class must be ready to do that to the great capitalist projects of the 21st century.

      • John “It’s equally naive and foolish to think that the appalling record of homelessness, poverty, mental illness, infrastructure decay and unemployment can be fixed in a couple of years.”

        Of course. Thinking people know this. The fact remains that the majority of people did not want another National Govt, and that majority chose not to vote for National, and wisely so.

        The car ownership obsession I equate with dumbo macho rugby.

        People live with ease without a car in great cities like London, with good public transport systems – the aesthetic advantages alone, are the realm of poetry- but the practicalities still need to be appreciated, and as you imply, alternatives need to be self-evident, and this may now be coming.

        Labour has a number of very sound people, but perhaps not the performing monkeys which MSM and small minds need to entertain them. They’re not there to titillate or entertain us, and need to firmly resist tedious opposition attempts to divert them into school yard scrapping.

        The horrendous challenge of the homelessness scenarios, and run down hospitals alone, have been huge, and climate change is the biggest of all, and if it’s looking more and more as if young people are trying to lead on that – then they can be our Pied Piper, and they may be some of the best people on offer.

        I know calculated huggers, who hug, and then they later explain why they did, and perhaps PM Ardern can develop a playful punch on the upper arm or one hand elbow grasp – and consider whether it is culturally appropriate for Pakeha to serial hongi every overseas VIP who visits us. Firm handshakes are pretty OK.

  7. Congestion on the roads leads to frustrated drivers wasted fuel and huge costs to business. Roads accidents place a huge cost on the country . The poor conditions of our roads is a disgrace and in some areas are like 3rd world roads. Even if we switch to EV vehicles we will still need roads. We are a long skinny country with mountain ranges dividing areas and only 5 million people so mass transport is neither practical or affordable. I am all for rail and seafreight to be used when it can but we cannot escape the need for good roads

  8. It depressing, people paid more taxes for petrol taxes to transform NZ to rail for public transport for commuters.

    Sadly the money is just being spent on window dressing for the construction industry particularly noticeable around Auckland with the new petrol tax that has failed already, with much of the commuter rail being scrapped or put well into the future, meanwhile the money is being spent on window dressing and somebody told me rates might be going up 5% on top.

    While Cleangreen has had a rail win by the sounds of it, the majority of COL money seems to be going on roads, roads, roads… not even more roads either, digging up the old ones to make them ‘safer’ while lowering the speed limits… clearly other factors like increased trucks and corruption through the license process (there is even a youtube video from an offender celebrating his corruption with guns, women and fancy mansions feature in their vids – he got loads of publicity since he was convicted of bribery, crime pays in NZ! https://www.stuff.co.nz/auckland/114283545/bribes-for-driver-licences-deportation-order-issued-for-star-witness-and-youtube-sensation

    Fletchers can’t build houses anymore judging by it’s 190m loss, lucky there is so much fat in road maintenance and new roads which keeps their dysfunctional construction businesses going, write your own cheques from the taxpayers, industry!

    (side note, knew an interiors painter that worked on a Fletcher project, they were hired through a recruitment firm which only paying $18 p/h when the going rate was around $30p/h for painters – many painters being used couldn’t even paint and they were instructed to ‘look busy, some floors were painted two or three times more than needed, while other floors were not painted at all there was little oversight and it was on luxury apartments. No wonder the construction glorious model of subcontractor over subcontractor over subcontractor when the final workers are underpaid and can’t do the job but nobody notices or cares because everyone else has banked their profits until the Ponzi goes under, doesn’t work).

    Then there is the government having a cosy fish dinner with Patrick Reynolds, Tyford and Genter during the interview selection process for NZTA which gets Patrick Reynolds (who is a photographer of architecture and lobbyist) a seat of the NZTA board! https://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2019/11/a_fishy_dinner.html

    (Clearly the government has learnt nothing from the CTO and communications minister https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/107080064/derek-handley-receives-compensation-after-being-dumped-as-chief-technology-officer cosy prior to the appointment process before realising that Derek Handley had neither previous CTO experience or any technical training or qualifications – he was from a marketing background…)

    Expertise, who needs that when we do the next upgrade of a bus terminal or motorway terminal – we now have a man on the NZTA board to photograph the building!

    Pity about the lack of trains and buses being closed down for years of yet another building or footpath or road upgrade instead of real transport change with actual transport being at the forefront of the spending. Another Marie Antoinette moment lost on the government.

    No wonder nobody wants more taxes and the Natz win with more blanket tax cuts, when taxes under COL are basically flushed down a toilet on the same road projects as the Natz but with more taxes from ordinary people to pay for it!

    Is it really that hard to work out where they are losing the people with more taxes, same projects as Nat Lite?

    • National give tax breaks as a bribe yet there’s always a cost. There are not enough people with common sense to see this. The last cost was that of an infrastructure upgrade and wage and salary increases. You vote National in off the back of a tax bribe something else will break. They gave a tax break and neutralized it with a GST increase.

  9. Ardern should say, yell actually, “Let’s do this!” and go headlong, 100%, into changing New Zealanders’ perceptions about trucks and cars providing them with their prime means of transportation.

    She should make the most of the opportunity and could afford to spend herself totally on it, (intended in the pun way too,) because after that she may as well retire. She will be chucked on the scrap heap, directed there by the likes of Mike everyone should drive a car Hosking and his adoring fans and those that are so thick they supported the revolutionary one who was too gutless to face up to the big issues like transport John Key. The thinking of New Zealanders will never change and geographical realities will not change.

    Christchurch. Post earthquake the main residential development was always going to be outside the central city. All the land north, west, south to be built on. Rail? Rapid rail, commuter rail in the new start for the new city? Hell no, roads every which way you want to go.

    Auckland, build a new motorway, extend the present motorway Auckland? At every turn, at every chance it’s build a new road to clog with cars? Rail? A piddling bit in town and out to the airport and it’s just about WW3.

    (Apologies to John Key re transport, he did start the Holiday Highway so he and his mates would have an easier trip to Omaha and Matakana.)

    In provincial areas with people distributed far and wide on hills and in valleys who need to move around? Public transport of private cars?

  10. Hello Chris Trotter; last week it was the undercover agent, who is the successful leader, today it is the swashbuckler?

    So what?

    Robin Hood working undercover as treasury head with the Sheriff of Nottingham?

    Excellent. I like this idea indeed.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VsjcQldeLRE

    More on a serious note.

    Infrastructure – including roads – remains important, even for transformational change. The matter cannot be settled on a principled stand alone, the questions are how the roads are built, and where, and for which purpose, and how do they fit into an overall strategy of a green new deal.

    Naturally, if these questions are not raised within the governing executive, and the billions of construction investment are just a small NZAO version of China’s belt and road initiative.

    This is exactly why the Green Party is in parliament. If they cannot raise these questions – and provide the right answers – we may have to fall back to a good old swashbuckler action:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aMvHJu0KWo4

    • You can’t put the toothpaste back in by pulling teeth. What I mean by that is Winston Peters signalled a recession and you don’t fix that by doing what the previous government did to induce a recession. All the media are saying is there is no recession and they’re wrong.

      We keep saying our economy is fantastic but we keep stimulating the economy by pumping money into roads and hospitals. China isn’t doing that because at this point China doesn’t require fiscal stimulus but at this point in time Chinese spending and manufacturing is back on the up.

      So if China isn’t stimulating its economy and America is the one stimulating it’s economy then the one that’s stimulating the economy has the weaker economy and trying to hide all its problems.

      The key word here is “transformation.” Us leftie voters was sold on transformative policy. So transforming the economy not stimulating it with The National Parties Junk Economics. So Roberson ought to practice is backflips and somersaults because we need transformation.

  11. I wonder if the apparent irrelevance of concern for CO2 emissions in what this government actually does with it’s own money, and what other governments actually do apart from grandstanding on climate change and flying around the world to meetings on the subject and talking, actually reflects a quiet understanding among all the leaders that it’s all a pile of old cobblers . Saying so in today’s “climate ” would be political suicide so it can’t be openly opposed or ridiculed, but the actions don’t coincide with the rhetoric. Apart from creating a new ponsey scheme for the capital speculators to play with and extract a little more wealth from the masses for the 1%’s share and some more direct taxes by governments to extract theirs .
    D J S

  12. Ha. I feel your pain @ CT.
    I also feel smug as fuck because I feel vindicated in a hollow sort of way.
    Zero, about this shit surprises me. None at all.
    Billions spent on AO/NZ roading means billions spent on subcontractors etc. An enthusiastic lot when it comes to lobbying.
    Furthermore, it’s a windfall for the road transport industry who could NEVER compete with the rail infrastructure we once had, much less the shambling zombie of a thing we now have.
    Only tourists can enjoy the clickety clack of the wheels on the tracks as they gape at the scenery. ( No disrespect to actual scenery gapers. )
    Not AO/NZ’ers on board having a pie and a cuppa while gorgeous scenery rolls past the window.
    ( I know ! I used to use The Southerner to visit my mates in Gore. I’d get the train from Timaru and ride that thing to Invercargill. Was awesome! No, no! Seriously. Was really, actually, fabulously awesome. )
    This…? This… thing? This thing?
    It’s all connected to The Great ( AO ) NZ Institutionalised Lie.
    adern is a common person. We should remember that. She’s a common person guided, shall we say, into where she’s at.
    You will not find someone dynamic nor original behind the adern. You will not find a Kate Shepard behind the blinding smile.
    But we knew that, surely?
    The gubbimint should have spent 12 billion dollars on me. I’d a been a great recipient of that kind of dough.
    Foreign Banks?
    Out. Gone. Done.
    Royal Commission of Inquiry?
    Done
    Hemp fibre housing for you poor souls hunkering down in hideous streets while trying to keep your mind safe and sound?
    Done.
    You little kids? Hungry, as mum and dad lie pissed and fucked up?
    Fed and warm and washed and clothed, right?
    Done. DONE! Adern …. ? Done? Right?
    Lets do that? “ LETS DO THAT…! “ adern.
    Farmers.
    AO/NZ ring fenced against foreign bankster scum ( No disrespect to actual scum. ) Then? Traditional trading relationships re cemented now that the Parasites are gone. ( wee Ronnie brierly? How’s your lappie’s security right now fucker? )
    Electricity? You heard of electricity?
    Free to you. I know. Outrageous, right?
    But it’s your resource. Your tax money built the infrastructure to extract power from gravity and God, ( at least not that I’ve noticed since God’s been absent when me and my whanau’s live’s have been fucked over. ) supplies water from His Heavens to run the fucking generator’s so why does it cost dollars to buy and use again…?
    The last time I dared to look into the hideous caverns of my mailbox I don’t remember getting an invoice from God? So, what the fuck?

    And you know those other lot, right?
    The Blue ones. Those one’s I can’t name. Because, a little bit of sick keeps coming u…..
    The Nat… “ urrrchcchcc! “
    Nope. Sorry. Can’t say the name of the political party who’s name is The N… The Nat…… Oh Jesus! Here we go ……… Blleeeeeeeechcchchchc. Yuk…yuk……… yuuuuuuukkkkk….!

    You? Yes, you. No! Not the one behind you, but you.
    You.
    You awesome you.
    You get up, you go out the door and head to ‘work’, you work a day, you come home, you’re tired. You eat your sausages and spuds, you watch the tee vee as you hug and snuggle your kids for a minute or two then everybody goes to bed to lie down and sleep. Or fuck, then sleep. Or scratch, fart, mumble, writhe, twitch then sleep.
    You know who your are.
    But I bet you don’t know HOW you are. You think you know, but you don’t.
    AO/NZ. Now, five million people on rich islands who export vital stuff and we’re fucked and getting fuckeder as your days tick over.
    In case you’re wondering? That, is who you are.
    Now? Go out and vote.
    But there ya go….
    WTF? Right? Y’see? There’s the problem.

  13. The art of the possible has landed us here. Don’t disagree. Just, truth should be the full force. Next 3 years has killed us. Why are the grandees of Demo-cracy all at the edges of our popular culture?

  14. Jacinda knows the truth, though infected by Clarkian tactics. Speak it, the best tangent I think. It was a happy stance, her election. An accident. Only point is the pulpit. Speak! And speak a lot. I don’t give a shit about her personability. Nor does the world really.

  15. Peter Williams: Behrouz Boochani is an overstayer and he should leave New Zealand immediately

    https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/new-zealand/2019/12/peter-williams-behrouz-boochani-is-an-overstayer-and-he-should-leave-new-zealand-immediately.html

    Not sure how I feel about this one, on one hand at least this refugee is respected, a writer and has some alternate view points outside the usual neoliberal mantra that we have stuffed constantly into our heads in NZ, or a huge step up from the usual crims that fight their deportation orders or ex jail birds who get granted ‘compassionate leave’ in NZ because surprise surprise, their original country doesn’t have enough opportunities for ex drug smugglers, pedophiles and rapists that our laws seem to allow to stay in NZ.

    On the other hand we have a major housing crisis and more and more people on housing waiting lists, and our MP from the Greens with little interest from the Labour government, is more interested in helping a overstayer that has an offer from the US to resettle there to continue to overstay in NZ, than helping our own people, many of whom are growing homelessness… while the environment and infrastructure can’t cope under the constant onslaught of more people living here https://www.msn.com/en-nz/news/national/sewage-going-into-wellingon-harbour-after-pipe-collapse/ar-BBYaNvm?li=BBqdk7Q&ocid=mailsignout&fbclid=IwAR21Mnvtgz4lnlXltsGUZJtMWUeZEJgHDd1v2v3qfB1IpZhHdGC78nfd9CA

    Here’s a thought, we swap him out for these guys to go to the US in an exchange…

    Child abuser wins right to stay in New Zealand for humanitarian reasons
    https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/crime/84891031/child-abuser-wins-right-to-stay-in-new-zealand-for-humanitarian-reasons

    Child abuse dad avoids deportation on humanitarian grounds to stay with family
    https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/76059417/

    Iain Lees-Galloway chose ‘lazy’ option granting residency to drink-driver – Simon Bridges
    https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/politics/2019/10/iain-lees-galloway-chose-lazy-option-granting-residency-to-drink-driver-simon-bridges.html

    New resident convicted of sex offending twice, won’t be deported
    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11837608

    Judge’s difficult sentencing of a former refugee who won’t stop offending
    https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/crime/111480343/judges-difficult-sentencing-of-a-refugee-who-wont-stop-offending

    Rapist wins case to be allowed to stay in NZ
    https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/327784/rapist-wins-case-to-be-allowed-to-stay-in-nz

    Sroubek ‘double’ Antolik likely to have visited New Zealand
    https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/384041/sroubek-double-antolik-likely-to-have-visited-new-zealand

    Sex offending and illegal money making, sounds ok in the US these days. so we might be able to get a cultural exchange going. sarcasm.

    • Meanwhile no action on the environment from COL – greens missing in action in particular

      No plan to tackle environmental degradation by increased tourism – Commissioner

      https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/405767/no-plan-to-tackle-environmental-degradation-by-increased-tourism-commissioner

      Also so many exceptions to the International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy (IVL) which is pathetically low anyway… including free IVL for Australian tourists … and free IVL to foreign work and student visas given out, that seems to assume that new residents on temp visas don’t actually visit any tourist spots when they come here on those visas, which is clearly highly unlikely… just more freebies on those visas which is contributing to destroying our environment, and the begrudging little tap to try and return something from the tourism industry IVL, has more leaks that leaky buildings.

      Another trend, wages are now so low, I notice more people are just giving up on working. This is not a criticism as it seems that if you are going to be side lined as a local workforce, then you might as well enjoy yourself while you do it. BTW could explain where all the NZ builders are https://www.stuff.co.nz/travel/kiwi-traveller/118358207/freedom-camping-im-made-to-feel-like-a-criminal… meanwhile the overseas construction workers are working for cash with no contracts. https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/117551892/death-of-a-migrant-under-the-table-workers-building-aucklands-multimillion-dollar-homes

      The country is a mess after 9 years of Natz, and COL ain’t getting up to speed what the real underlying issues are, which is growing black economy of illegal and underpaid and unskilled workers being bought in for cash and growing disillusionment with actually working if you are resident here, when you are often better off, not working.

      Know another kiwi born builder, who is also not working, not sure why, but seems that relationship issues and the construction industry itself which is a Ponzi, is not keeping construction people in the industry, where more money is to be made from third parties getting new people coming into NZ for big fees and every few jobs someone goes under and does not pay the subcontractors.

  16. Jacinda has long ago sold her heart and soul. She feeds Neve petrol and diesel when breast feeding, ensuring a fossil fuel age has a ‘future’ in petrol headed NZ Inc..

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