Yes, there is a big double-banger policy which would attack climate change and the cost-of-living crisis simultaneously


The Greens are rightly annoyed at the Labour Party holding a bonfire of climate change policies developed as part of their coalition deal after the last election.

Labour has always had both eyes fixated on what National is doing to give anything but an occasional sideways glance at the climate crisis which is upon us.

However, in defending the conflagration Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said we should look to the budget for climate change action which would be more cost effective than the scrapped policies.

Luckily for the PM there is a policy which would better use the hundreds of millions in scrapped polices BOTH to make a bigger dent in our greenhouse gas emissions AND deliver significant support for low and middle-income earners struggling with the cost of living crisis. FREE and FREQUENT public transport.

We need look no further than Spain which is extending its free public transport policy to long-haul train services

Why is Spain making train travel free?

These free train tickets are aimed at reducing the impact of the cost of living crisis in the country.

Germany introduced a similar measure between June and August with a discounted nationwide public transport pass. It gave travellers unlimited use of local and regional services for just €9 a month.

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But Spain has decided to go one step further by making train travel on its Renfe services free between September and December this year.

“I am fully aware of the daily difficulties that most people face. I know that your salary is getting less and less, that it is difficult to make ends meet, and that your shopping basket is becoming more and more expensive,” Sanchez said.

“I am going to work my skin to the bone to defend the working class of this country.”


I can’t see Chris Hipkins delivering that last line in a press conference – his finance minister has been busy working his fingers to the bone to protect the wealth of the rich and super-rich who have prospered under Covid.

But redemption for Labour is only one big bold policy away!

And how should we pay for it? Besides the hundreds of millions saved from Hipkins’ scrapped policies there is plenty more the government could find by following Spain’s example of a windfall profits tax on banks and energy companies.

The free rail tickets will be funded by a new windfall tax on banks and energy companies that have profited from rising interest rates and energy prices. 

The new levy is set to be introduced in 2023 and could generate up to €7 billion in two years.

It will also be used to build 12,000 new homes and fund youth scholarship programmes.

Come on Chippy – Let’s do it!


  1. I did not agree with free public transport as it is not free as someone has to pick up the bill .However I have changed my mind on local bus services .The cost would be offset from the money saved on not having to cater for vehicles and their pollution.
    If they were free the driver could be isolated so less vunerable to attack
    The buses would be able to keep,to tighten time frames especially with the introduction of bus lanes.
    To complete the deal we need more bus shelters and better pay for drivers to attract staff

  2. Fiscal capacity John is how we pay for it, not taxation. Read up about MMT. Not that we should not tax the rich more; we should, but generally taxation does not fund government spending.

  3. I see that, although not free, the extension of public transport initiatives will only apply to the main five centres – what about all the people in smaller cities – maybe they should get a cash bonus to make up for what they’re missing out on….

    • I live in a rural area. I am very happy for my taxes to go toward free public transport in the cities as it will save money on roads and climate change. What we need in rural places is better bike lanes. I bike ten km to work and it is a nice ride, but more would do it if it was safer, particularly now that less fit people can buy electric bikes.

  4. Taken a public bus lately John? Filled with drinkers, nut jobs, highly stressed out drivers, with no protection, and some unpleasant people in general…

  5. Fare free public transport with expanded reach and service, and a bigger state role in running this country generally would go down well with so many people. When a Climate Disaster Cyclone wrecks your life–who do you expect to helicopter you off a roof, pay out for destroyed property and crops, and restore power, internet and water? Not venture capitalists! it will be a mix of local and central Govt., Civil Defence, and other ordinary citizens.

    It is never easy to advance the “lesser evil” position when it comes to Parliamentary politics–what is the use of supporting Labour/Green/TPM when they will not do exactly what “I” want? Well the fact is ACT and Natzos will wade into working class people including Māori, big time–their policies say so. So it is an objective fact that several millions will be worse off with a Natzo/ACT Govt.

    NZ Labour still has an absolute MMP majority till the general election on Sat 14 October. So theoretically the Labour Caucus could do a lot–but they are ideologically bound to neo Blairism and without a hell of a lot of public organisation and pressure will not deviate from the monetarist course.

  6. The underlying problem nobody wants to talk about is the collapse of most of the public transit network.

    There is almost no progress on returning service to the extensive tramway networks developed in Auckland (13 routes), Wellington (14 routes), Christchurch (15 routes), Dunedin (18 routes), New Plymouth (4 routes), Napier, Gisborne, Wanganui and Invercargill.

    Nor is there any progress on resuming suburban rail services in Christchurch (5 lines) or Dunedin (2 lines). Or the trolleybus lines in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin or New Plymouth.

    Or what about information on resumption of full interprovincial passenger rail services? Or how an expansion of industry might lead to the 20+ mothballed branch lines being rerouted and restored?

    Your average SimCity player could do a better job of running infrastructure than these neoliberal clowns we’re stuck with.

  7. Correct. Efeso Collins knew it but everything was against him becoming the aspirational progressive leader that this city required. It is now on the allegedly left intentioned government to make good on saving the world, despite the person who promised our neo nuclear free moment no longer heading the party.

  8. John, I would caution copying the antics of the EU for two reasons. Firstly, they have a far higher population density to support public transport and secondly Europe is slowly bankrupting itself with these vanity projects.

    • I’ve been reading about the imminent collapse of the EU for 30years andrew like other rightard predictions that never comes to pass….I mean what’s it like to be wrong all the time?

  9. You just want to ride round on the top deck in a big red double-decker like in London. Those wanting transport near their street would be glad to join in singing The wheels of the bus go round and round, especially if it stops and there is room for them to get on and go to work so that they can be part of this great economy and feed clothe and house themselves and others for another week. ‘Bus Stop’ – Grover

    Simple really – I used to travel on the tram from Meadowbank into Newmarket, it had wooden varnished slat seats. It trundled along and at certain points the driver got out and pulled the connecting pole down from the wires, went to the other end and sprung that pole up and was away back along the route.

    It’s a song for children, and that’s what we all are, in the hands of people with more wealth and opportunities and power than we, subservient to others whose wealth spirals invisibly to the sky. That’s how things run today – on invisible money made up of legal promises, that special people can offer if they choose, that we can gain physical and amorphous things with. Oh really!


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