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Kiwis love their rail

Written By: - Date published: 7:46 pm, July 21st, 2008 - 56 comments
Categories: assets, polls, transport - Tags:

A poll on TV1 shows that Kiwis overwhelmingly support the Government move to bring rail back into public ownership. Despite a question that explicitly states the cost of Kiwirail but none of the benefits, respondents still voiced very strong support for the purchase- 68% in favour vs 24% against.

The Government has acted in a way that makes economic and environmental sense. The only opposition has been from the ‘free market is always right’ lobby and National. Their childish comments about buying a train-set have fooled no-one.

I think this issue and the growing questions around John Key’s leadership qualities, including his broken promise not to use Crosby/Textor, have been the catalysts for Labour’s resurgence in the polls. The 90 Day No Rights policy and ACC privatisation, despite National’s attempt to release on the quiet, have also gone down very badly with the public but they were released too recently to affect the latest polls. That may mean more bad news for National in the next round of polls.

56 comments on “Kiwis love their rail”

  1. vto 1

    A poll confirming people love trains is hardly surprising. Everyone loves trains – they are yesteryear, relaxing, romantic, big, loud and magnificent. Other than ships they are the biggest machines in existence.

    I would suggest it has zip to do with either economics or environment.

    It was a populist purchase.

    If the true cost was reflected in the number of notes every person had to pull out of their wallets each week they may change their choo choo choone. Maybe. It would be interesting to see ..

  2. I am surprised that you claim buying the rail company back makes economic sense. It is not something that has been shown to make economic sense by Cullen. he is incapable of even confirming the real cost or the level of expenditure needed to modernise it.

  3. vto. $1.5 billion over ten years is the cost, that’s $150 million a year (less actually in present value), per person that comes to less than $1 a taxpayer a week.

    And you show a disrespect for your fellow citizens that is all too common among the right (and the political Left). People are not stupid, they know that the privatisation of rail was a rip off that got Fay Richewaite and co rich and put more big trucks on our roads.

  4. vto 4

    barnsley bill, good point. Some sums then..

    Purchase price. Well not sure but lets says (in mini-me voice) one billion dollars.

    In kiwibank at 9% = $90million profit per annum.

    In conservative shares or property or other investment at say 4% = $40million profit per annum.

    In repaid tax at standard mortgage rate of 10% = $100million per annum into the average kiwi’s back pocket.

    Now I dont know but how much do rail’s books say they made in profit last year? (less than those numbers I hope).

  5. vto 5

    SP. I agree with your statement “People are not stupid, they know that the privatisation of rail was a rip off that got Fay Richewaite and co rich”

    I think this confuses a few different issues. But on the Fay Richwhite thing don’t even get me started. It is no wonder they hide in the country where the bullion gets hidden (best hiding place of course). I think they are embarrassed of themselves over their performance on rail. It is excessively simple – they took ALL the cash for maintenance and upgrade and stuffed it in their pockets.

    This was of course one part of human’s nature exposed. It should have been foreseen and the privatisation made infinitely more robust so that this was not possible (don’t ask me how).

    Gotta go

  6. Janet 6

    This rail buy back costs only a fraction of what is being spent on roading this year. Why is it OK for roads to be a public good and OK to spend huge amounts of public money on, whereas rail should somehow be profitable?

    One small section of proposed new road – the Transmission Gully route out of Wellington – is only a few kilometres long yet will cost much more than the total rail buy back and upgrade.

    Several years ago a green leaning MP suggested that upgrading the rail track out of Wellington and having a roll on roll off service at the Wgtn railway station for cars going up the coast would be a cheaper and more sensible proposition than building this new road. Perhaps it is time to take such ideas seriously.

  7. I’ll be quite interested to see how the rumblings of a universal student allowance becoming Labour policy will come out in the polls. I suspect it would be quite a popular move.

    http://newzblog.wordpress.com/2008/07/21/labour-gains-on-national-due-to-personal-attacks-media/

  8. rave 8

    Well I look forward to another tea and pie at Taumaranui any day over a cold flat and latte serve up by the Parnell poseurs.

  9. Tiger! You big old link whore you!

    Nice post by the way.

    [lprent: I think he is just imitating someone?]

  10. Only imitating the master :-) !

    Now to pen a reply to young Nick.

  11. Pascal's bookie 11

    I think they are embarrassed of themselves over their performance on rail.

    [cough] BNZ [cough]
    [cough cough] European Pacific [cough cough]

    W8nkers.

    From Christchurch if I remember correctly.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

  12. Daveski 12

    Bread and circuses anyone?

    Having worked at one stage for Tranzrail, I can’t help but agree with your views on Fay et al. It was the worst excesses of privatisation and your comments are right on the mark.

    But before you ask me to start humming the Red Flag, you conveniently overlook the massive improvement in service under privatisation – massive improvement in haulage with less than 20% of the staff. And the ferries ran during school holidays :)

    Rail won’t get all trucks off the road – in most cases, you still need trucks to drop off and pick up the goodies. That also explains why Toll/Tranzlink had the most trucks too.

    This could potentially prove to be a winner – if it’s run properly, it could deliver benefits. But that doesn’t hide the fact that this was a populist vote driven decision, much like no interest students loans, and the prospect of universal student allowances.

    So I’m not going to get excited by these poll results.

    Hold it … I thought you guys didn’t believe in polls??

  13. The Double Standard 13

    SO, if a policy is popular in a poll in 2008, the Teh Party will go for it, regardless of other considerations?

    Government by poll is not necessarily good government is it? What were those s59 polls running at again?

    I’m also not sure that running the line ‘F&R profited 15 years ago, so we must buy back this money-sink asset today’ is overly rational either.

  14. r0b 14

    SO, if a policy is popular in a poll in 2008, the Teh Party will go for it, regardless of other considerations?

    Nope. $50 tax cuts are pretty popular, but Labour has other considerations.

    Government by poll is not necessarily good government is it?

    Certainly isn’t, and to try and raise the issue here is to confuse the order of events. We bought back KiwiRail BEFORE any public poll on the matter.

    What were those s59 polls running at again?

    Wasn’t aware that any valid poll had been conducted.

  15. The Double Standard 15

    Lets play a little polling game:

    Poll question on Teh Party’s policy

    “Do you support the Labour-led buy back of rail for around $1bill” Y/N

    Poll question on The Nat’s policy

    “Do you support the Nat-led buy back of rail for around $1bill given that it will inevitably lead to more government borrowing and slashing of nurse and teacher numbers” Y/N

    I wonder what questions were actually used in the poll…

  16. The Double Standard 16

    Rob, do you really expect us to believe that Teh Party didn’t do private polling on Tranz Rail before pushing the button. Pull the other one eh?

    [lprent: I cannot believe the education system letting this sort of misspelling through. Oh well – lets add that to the list. ]

  17. randal 17

    yes well there wont be any spare track for the next buyers to sell overseas and buy themselves yacht races and castles in Ireland with.

  18. Pascal's bookie 18

    Cool, TDS returns!!

    Still a bit stupid though.

    This poll TDS, is asking what people think of something the government has already done. Answer: They like it.

    It could have gone the other way, they might have hated it.

    Governing by poll result is what you call it when a party decides to abandon principled positions on all sorts of things simply because their principled positions are deeply unpopular.

    An example might be the National party on interest free student loans, banning nuclear ships, not going to war in Iraq, kyoto, Cullen fund, Kiwisaver, 20 hrs free, stopping privatisation, keeping Don Brash’s ideas off the treasury benches, etc. These are all things that the National Party thought were bad for NZ, but now they support.

    Those things, for the National Party, would be governing by poll results. This thing, by the Labour party, not so much. The Labour party thinks buying the train set was a good idea, and the people agree. Lucky Labour.

    The way I read Steve’s post he is saying that this a good policy (opinion), and a popular one too (fact). He is not saying that it is good because it is popular, that would be stupid. Just like saying that you would now support a policy that you thought was actually bad for NZ just because it was popular. That would be wrong.

  19. Blar 19

    “his broken promise not to use Crosby/Textor”

    I’m not going to call you a liar because I can’t categorically say this was never promised, but I am pretty no such promise exists. Could you please provide a reference for this?

  20. Daveski 20

    r0b stated:

    Government by poll is not necessarily good government is it?

    Certainly isn’t, and to try and raise the issue here is to confuse the order of events. We bought back KiwiRail BEFORE any public poll on the matter.

    I was put on mod (OK, briefly) for accusing the Standard of being one and the same as the Labour party. I accept that it’s not.

    Perhaps r0b could explain his comments or risk also being modded?

    [lprent: I suspect that r0b is a member of the NZLP from previous comments.

    However he isn’t on our group of cheerful volunteers as far as I’m aware, most of whom admit that they are not (apart from me).

    However rOb is one of the few people capable of logging in and automatically getting that air of grey eminence.]

  21. MikeE 21

    Great, so they support the purchase, will they actually use it?

  22. r0b 22

    Perhaps r0b could explain his comments or risk also being modded?

    What needs explaining Daveski? We, as in the people of NZ, or “the gummint” if you like, bought back the railways. I wasn’t suggesting that The Standard bought it…

  23. randal 23

    sok rOb. daveski is one of the little people wif a truk so you might have to repeat it several times before it gets through!

  24. Matthew Pilott 24

    The Double Standard, are you incapable of rational thought? The rail buyback being a vote-catcher policy only? Ye gods and little fishes. What do you think a Labour Government would like to do with rail, irrespective of voters? Do you think they would like to buy it? Maybe you should keep quiet, or accept that a Labour core value is also shared by a good cross-section of the public.

    Maybe you’d also like to reflect on the concept of questioning a party ensuring that their policies are popular, if you’re trying to imply Labour ‘tested the waters’ with the rail buy-back. You think that’s entirely a bad thing? I won’t complain, as long as it isn’t the only consideration…

    I also think you’re being pretty obviously transparent – past experience has clearly shown that Labour will do what they think is right for the country, despite some strong opposition. No such polling on the quiet, methinks.

    Daveski, in case you are confused, r0b isn’t The Standard.

  25. TDS – you old bugger. Good to see you back! You should make a few comments at my blog bro…

    I’ve got a nice wee post on good hating –

    http://robinsod.wordpress.com/2008/07/20/still-some-good-hate-left/

    I reckon you’d like it, you being such a good hater and all.

    Well… impotent hater… but still – hate’s hate innit?

  26. Swampy 26

    “What do you think a Labour Government would like to do with rail, irrespective of voters? Do you think they would like to buy it?”

    Labour wants to bring back a rail freight monopoly because of their anti business bias, they can use the rail business to shut down the private sector road transport operators. It’s all payback for their loyal union affiliate members.

  27. ak 27

    Nice post (as always) Steve: and I think you’re right in predicting …more bad news for National in the next round of polls.

    Together with this poll on rail and today’s Fearfax jobby showing that the majority of kiwis (and of even the NActoids themselves) want more policy detail from NAct, it looks like voters are at last sobering up from their media-fed anti-Helen hate fest.

    Maybe its an age thing, but as a relative newcomer to this medium (and talkback wireless), the shock at first encountering the level and intensity of the naked hatred hurled at our current PM in these public quarters was quite mind-boggling (have we no defamation laws any more?). What’s worse is that the “halo effect” of this utterly mindless barrage of poison has spread widely (- even to my own highly genteel milieu: to witness the pathos of frail tory ex-pillocks of society lisping plaintive “nanny states” as they dribble their Horlicks is a surreal experience!)

    Bereft of ideology or policy, the Right’s tactic of relentless repetition of gutter insults via various lazy compliant media has – to even their own surprise – worked: but as with all hate-sessions, the artificial, transitory frisson of fury is rapidly fading. The Herald’s recent hagiography of Key exposed a driven, self-obsessed spiv whose sole achievement and ambition reads as the epitome of selfishness. Kiwis don’t go for manicured, prevaricating paper-shufflers – least of all his would-be base of farmers and small businessmen.

    It’s time to trumpet the gains and roll out the bold initiatives. Forget tory policy: set the menu and dare them to eat it.
    Like a welcome warm zephyr through an electorate tired and hungover from its brief flirtation with the bizarre, the solid reality of Labour’s impressive and incontrovertible achievement, experience, and vision of progressive optimism is set to return and reassure. Ride the wave from here on in.

  28. Daveski 28

    r0b – I’ll accept your word but the comment can easily be read differently given the subject of the post is the Government – not the people.

    I’m being deliberately pedantic but I think it was worth pointing out the semantic point which the mod has gone to pains to also point out.

    The challenge will be to keep the positive view of “NZ Rail 2″ if services degrade or there is a perception that a government monopoly is taking advantage of its position.

    Let’s put it this way – I very much doubt that Labour – not the Standard ;) – would have done this if they thought it would have been negatively received. In other word, the poll result is not unexpected and not tipping point in the electioneering foreplay.

    Randal’s comments aren’t worth commenting on.

    [lprent: You may shortly drive me to being even more pedantic. New software version (2.6) that I am testing could do with a few enhancements. I figure I could build a few of the ideas I have about troll generation into moderator tools. ]

  29. SO, if a policy is popular in a poll in 2008, the Teh Party will go for it, regardless of other considerations?

    And if it had been unpopular they woudl have been out of touch ivory tower communist academics hell bent at perusing ideology at all costs.

    Essentially what your saying is “National good, Labour bad. National good, Labour bad. National good, Labour bad. National good, Labour bad”

  30. Matthew Pilott 30

    Swampy – back on the Nats talking points! You’re meant to be telling us that we will still need trucks (as if that wee point isn’t somewhat obvious). Interesting you manage to exclude the numerous other reasons why functioning rail is a good idea. I’m too tired to rehash them, but you know what they are I’m sure.

    Killinginthenameof, don’t forget that one year in three a government isn’t allowed to release policy and govern as such, they can only bribe.

  31. Razorlight 31

    This is a Colmar Brunton Poll. I did not think you people gave much credit to those rogue pollsters.

    Seriously though. I don’t think the result of this poll changes any of the arguments made against the buyback.

    We will be proven wrong in 5 years time when this is a succesfully run SOE. Not five minutes after the purchase when a poll is run.

  32. rave 32

    I’m waiting for the ad with Key sitting stalled in the Merc being disappeared by the big bright orange monster toy.

  33. Good on Labour for buying back the rail. Such strategic infrastructure should be owned by the Government. It’s economic sense to have public ownership of the cogs that make your economy work, a fact that mainstream economists across the world have realised following the failure of ‘more market’ solutions in the 80s and 90s.

    But we can’t forget that Labour helped ruin New Zealand’s railway system during the 1980s, with line closures, massive staff layoffs and the imposition overall of a ruthless corporatisation strategy.

    Even more than this, why was the rail bought back now after years of failure and run-down by Toll? Why in election year and why for such a bloody high price, considering how bad Toll had been managing such an important New Zealand asset?

    Kiwis shouldn’t be paying hundreds of millions to help line the pockets of Australian executives, who must be very glad to be out of the New Zealand railway market.

    Labour’s cynical election year ploys aren’t going to be working for too much longer.

    Oliver Woods
    Auckland Central RAM Candidate

  34. Draco TB 34

    It’s economic sense to have public ownership of the cogs that make your economy work, a fact that mainstream economists across the world have realised following the failure of ‘more market’ solutions in the 80s and 90s.

    Then they obviously forgot to listen to their hero Milton Friedman who said back in the 1950s that such natural monopolies should be government owned.

    Why in election year and why for such a bloody high price,…

    When you take inflation into account the government actually bought it back for less than they sold it for. Of course, it wasn’t worth as much as they sold it for either.

  35. Lint Remover 35

    why aren’t you commenting on the fact that your poodle winston has been exposed as a corrupt fraud? scared of the truth?

    wait for my comment to get moderated like tony veitch

  36. outofbed 36

    I caught our train from Picton to ChCh last week $55.00
    Was one of the most spectacular train journeys I have ever been on
    Simply stunning
    The Train was 90% full and everyone I spoke to loved it
    I am so glad I know own a part of this amazing system we have

    In Kiakoura I think there is a monument to the workers who died pushing that railway through. They would have been turning in their graves when the railways were sold off to an overseas company.
    I urge everyone to book a trip on the coastal route and be proud that you now own such an amazing asset. Well done Labour

  37. Kevyn 37

    Janet, The simple answer to your question
    “This rail buy back costs only a fraction of what is being spent on roading this year. Why is it OK for roads to be a public good and OK to spend huge amounts of public money on, whereas rail should somehow be profitable?”
    is:
    a) in round numbers – 80,000 km of roads, 5,000 km of railways.
    b) it isn’t ok to spend huge amounts of public money on roads that’s why no public money has been spent on roads since 1924. The money being spent on roads is provided by road users and land owners, the former because they create some of the roading costs (one-third of maintenance costs, 100% of construction costs) and receive benefits in reduced travel costs, the latter because they recieve benefits from road access to their properties.

  38. Kevyn 38

    outofbed, It’s not altogether surprising that the train was 90% full last week. School holidays have that effect. $55 isn’t cheap, unless you are comparing it with travelling on your own in a car. On the positive side it probably is value for money when you consider the stress of taking a carful of kids on that travel sickness inducing killer highway. The last time any serious money was spent on that highway was when the foreshore sections were moved to make way for the railway tracks.

  39. Forget the train set and stuffed unit of rail – kiwi’ s do like their ale, and Winston is in the Pooh but dear leader, MADam speaker and H2 will derail the moronic sheep public and celebrate with all the political drunkards. DOH brains.

  40. outofbed 40

    Kevyn For that incredible scenic journey I would have gladly paid double.
    And surprisingly there were very few children on-board.
    Its a shame though that CH CH railway station was sold so you have to alight in the suburbs.. very forward thinking eh ?

  41. Vanilla Eis 41

    d4j: I’m actually struggling to make any sense out of your comment. Maybe if I run it through a few online foreign-language translators and then back to English?

  42. Phil 42

    “$55 isn’t cheap, unless you are comparing it with travelling on your own in a car.”

    $55 per person on the train, or the equivalent car journey using about 1/3 to 1/2 a tank in a ‘normal’ car – maybe $40 of 91-unleaded, max.
    You’re absolutely right. The train isn’t cheap, at all.

    “travel sickness inducing killer highway.”

    The road from Kaikoura to Picton – half of OOB’s trip – was recently rated the best road in the country (it was the AA run poll, where you could win a Mercedes…)
    It’s one of the few roads in NZ where I’ve stepped out of the car after driving it well, and felt like I’d achieved something. In a good car, that road makes you feel engaged and tactile like nothing else in NZ is capable of.

  43. lukas 43

    I love it how you guys trust polls when they suit you but claim they are rogue polls if they don’t

  44. lprent 44

    Phil: compare apples with apples

    Add
    1. depreciation/interest on the car finance. If you brought for cash use a discount rate instead to account for alternate uses (ie NPV it).
    2. maintenance on the car including part replacements like tyres.
    3. registration/wof
    4. insurance

    I think that is all. In my experience the petrol cost is roughly about half of the cost of owning a car.

    Throwaway comments like yours are just daft. You sound like a National Party policy document – more than a little vacant.

  45. outofbed 45

    no no no 55 bucks is great as against $40 bucks worth of petrol + wear and tear on car combined with a very stress free journey talking to people, making new acquaintances, hot food and drink, beer wine on demand and friendly informative staff.
    Try it

  46. Phil 46

    Lynn,

    … And you sound like a Labour party selective case spin machine.

    My own car usage suggests much more than 50% on petrol (i’ll let you decide for yourself if that means I’m lead-footed, poorly maintain the car, or both…)

    However, if OOB payed $55 PER PERSON, then a two person trip (after all, who would go by themselves?) suggests the car is still the cheaper journey by some $30.
    As OOB pointed out, the train station in Chch is not central, so there is the additional transport and time factor for him/her here too, once the destination city is reached.

    “very stress free journey talking to people, making new acquaintances, hot food and drink, beer wine on demand and friendly informative staff.”
    As with all transport-related consumables, you’re a captive audience on the train. I suspect you are going to be paying much more for the tasty sandwich than the equivalent from a roadside cafe.

    We’re starting to get into very esoteric and econometric measurement here, so I think we can agree to disagree on the relative cost.

    What we can agree on is that there is a non-financial benefit – a feel good factor – which will be different from person to person, that is going to ultimately be the deciding factor in long haul personal transport. I’m a ‘car guy’ so for me the choice is simple. Others may be ‘train people’ and will choose differently.

  47. outofbed 47

    Phil I am pretty sure that if you had the time or inclination to study the cars on State Highway 1 from Blenheim to CH Ch a goodly percentage would be single occupancy.
    Lots of people obviously have lots of reasons for travelling on their own . This applies to any form of transport.
    I travel to Ch ch fairly regularly If I have time limitations I fly
    if I travelling with family I drive (still the cheapest at the mo) and
    if time is not a biggie and I want to chill out I will “let the train take the strain”
    Incidently the food was good quality and I spent less on food then I would if I had been driving,,
    But I must confess this was cancelled out by those beers I had whilst in the viewing carriage.
    Drinking beer, as the Pacific Ocean just metres away roll by, is a pretty sublime experience.
    All this for just $55 plus beer, the deal of the century!!!

  48. Matthew Pilott 48

    Recently did the same journey in a car, from Wellington though. The car on the ferry wasn’t cheap, but the petrol was about $60 each for the return trip. We packed 5 in the car though, but it would have been cheaper to do the return journey without the car, with the ferry plus the train.

    We made the route a bit longer by taking route 71, inland to Kaikoura, on the return. Nice drive, but nothing on going over Arthurs to Haast!

  49. Blar 49

    “his broken promise not to use Crosby/Textor’

    I’m not going to call you a liar because I can’t categorically say this was never promised, but I am pretty no such promise exists. Could you please provide a reference for this?

  50. Kevyn 50

    outofbed, If you click on my name (above) you can see photos of some of the highlights of the Christchurch-Picton highway. One of the photos does allow a (unscientific) headcount.

  51. Kevyn 51

    Steve claimed that Kiwis overwhelmingly support the buyout of Toll’s Tranzrail “Despite a question that explicitly states the cost of Kiwirail”

    But the question doesn’t even come close to explicitly stating the cost of Kiwirail. The question was “given the final price tag will go well over the billion dollar mark would they support the buying back of rail and ferry services?”

    Would 68% have been in favour if the question had given the actual confirmed expenditure plans of 1.5 billion just in the Auckland and Wellington regions, plus Auckland regional ratepayers contribution of 800 million?
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/category/story.cfm?c_id=97&objectid=10521966&ref=rss
    That’s in addition to amounts already spent (in millions): 80 for the Auckland suburban tracks, 11 for double tracking, 23 to buy Wellington station, 50 towards Britomart (from Transfund). Realisticly, if Kiwirail is to have any chance of removing any trucks from state highways it will need at least 10 new locos at 3 million each, a thousand or more additional wagons at $100,000 each, the elimination of hundreds of weight or speed resticted bridges and hieght restricted tunnels. Half of Ontrack’s 1800 bridges are more than 80 years old. Transit is in a slightly better bridging position even though it’s 4000 bridges have a combined length of 140km. Work on the highway system only began 85 years ago so only 7km of highway bridges are more than 80 years old, although 60km were built before seismic standards were introduced.
    Working from the Transit figures Ontrack will need to replace 35km of bridges over the next decade at a cost of somewhere between 10 and 50 million per km. If track ballast renewal has been extended beyond a safe point to the same extent that that has happened to highway sub-bases then we could be looking at ground-up rebuilds of up to half the network before higher speeds will be safe. The situation could be much worse than that if the correlation between sober driver speed related crashes and and highway rehabilitation frequency holds true for railways as well, viz-a-viz derailment risk.

  52. Blar 52

    Repeat comment deleted

  53. Vanilla Eis 53

    Edit: sorry, scratch that.

  54. ghostwhowalks 54

    Kevyn every business needs large amounts of capital investment EVERY YEAR just to stand still. Most of it comes form the existing company . The railways is the same, but does require some more capital from the buyer since it was so run down

    Locos are leased these days, ditto for wagons. But it seems there will be some refurbisments and some leases with maybe some bought outright

  55. Kevyn 55

    Unfortunately the buyer couldn’t raise that sort of capital so they sold it back to the same outfit that ran it down in the first place.

    Unfortunately common sense went out the window in the Muldoon era. In the century before that central and local government had borrowed to build infrastructure of all sorts, bridges, tramways, railways, drainage schemes, etc. It made sense to get the users of the new infrastructure to pay for it rather than making their parents pay for it since it often takes a generation to build the infrastructure. Frequently interest was paid for solely from savings on future price increases for the land needed for the projects. It helped that interest rates were less than 5% and population growth was often more than that. Actually the introduction of the petrol tax may have signalled a shift in thinking about capital funding for infrastructure. Once that tax was introduced it became the sole source of capital for highway development and was frequently pilferred to provide capital to invest in the railways, notable in the decade after World War 2 and in the 1980s. We really need to rethink this widespread reliance on pay/go funding for infrastucture capital. It creates an undesireable incentive to sell the old to fund the new.

  56. John Key the Don Key 56

    The Labour party has invested wisely in buying back the assets that National sold when the going got tough (e.g. kiwirail) The national party has ever so kindly said that they won’t sell the assets in their FIRST term. Man, they really care about NZ owning NZ. They don’t care at ALL about getting rich quick.

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    It has been a big year for the vision of a Predator Free New Zealand. My hope is that 2014 will be remembered as the start of a movement that sees New Zealand eventually rid itself of invasive mammal predators. This year was also notable for the continued gnashing of… ... read more
    Gareth’s WorldBy Gareth Morgan
  • Fascinating and painless chemistry lessons
    I had to select this video on the element rutherfordium because of the  New Zealand link of the scientist the element is named after. It’s an interesting short lesson on rutherfordium and there is more where it came from – in fact one short video lesson for every element… ... read more
    Open ParachuteBy Ken
  • Fascinating and painless chemistry lessons
    I had to select this video on the element rutherfordium because of the  New Zealand link of the scientist the element is named after. It’s an interesting short lesson on rutherfordium and there is more where it came from – in fact one short video lesson for every element… ... read more
    Open ParachuteBy Ken
  • Sitting On Our Hands
    "We Nailed It!" New Zealand's representative to the United Nations, Jim McClay, takes a moment as his country's election to the UN Security Council is announced. Prime Minister Key told reporters that New Zealand got there on the strength of its reputation for being "someone that stands up for… ... read more
    Bowalley Road
  • Key uses tragedy for propaganda
    As Australians and Kiwis are learning about the tragic events that have resulted in the deaths of three people, the Prime Minister of New Zealand has taken it upon himself to use the situation to promote a complete untruth.Today, Radio NZ reported:John Key said it was clear from what unfolded… ... read more
    The Jackal
  • Government cutting back at health services to dangle tax cuts
    The health service is already too stretched, and cutting further into New Zealanders’ health services to fund tax cuts is irresponsible, the CTU said today.Leaked cabinet committee papers have revealed District Health Boards need an additional $440 million next year but Treasury has recommended cutting this back by $190 million.… ... read more
    CTUBy Huia.Welton
  • Access: Some aspects of New Zealand’s disability history – part...
    In part one I covered the eugenic ideas that underpinned public policy in the first decades of the 20th century. The assumptions that disability indicated inferiority and likely moral degeneracy led to discriminatory attitudes, laws and policies against disabled people, particularly those with intellectual disability or psychiatric conditions.But the arrival… ... read more
    Public Address
  • Access: Some aspects of New Zealand’s disability history – part...
    In part one I covered the eugenic ideas that underpinned public policy in the first decades of the 20th century. The assumptions that disability indicated inferiority and likely moral degeneracy led to discriminatory attitudes, laws and policies against disabled people, particularly those with intellectual disability or psychiatric conditions.But the arrival… ... read more
    Public Address
  • Access: Some aspects of New Zealand’s disability history – part...
    In part one I covered the eugenic ideas that underpinned public policy in the first decades of the 20th century. The assumptions that disability indicated inferiority and likely moral degeneracy led to discriminatory attitudes, laws and policies against disabled people, particularly those with intellectual disability or psychiatric conditions.But the arrival… ... read more
    Public Address
  • (Repost) When is a nasty attack not a nasty attack?
    Originally posted at On The Left. John Key was on Breakfast on One this morning talking about the political year past and the challenges facing him in 2015. And it was a fascinating display of how someone can say utterly contradictory things with a straight face. On the “low point” of… ... read more
    Boots TheoryBy Stephanie Rodgers
  • Carbon News 15/12/14: smoke and mirrors
    English goes silent on carbon deficit costs The Government is refusing to discuss what impact a 2030 carbon deficit will have on the economy – despite warnings from Treasury. Finance Minister Bill English has confirmed to Carbon News that Treasury is predicting carbon prices of between $10 and $165… ... read more
    Hot TopicBy Gareth
  • Carbon News 15/12/14: smoke and mirrors
    English goes silent on carbon deficit costs The Government is refusing to discuss what impact a 2030 carbon deficit will have on the economy – despite warnings from Treasury. Finance Minister Bill English has confirmed to Carbon News that Treasury is predicting carbon prices of between $10 and $165… ... read more
    Hot TopicBy Gareth
  • Carbon News 15/12/14: smoke and mirrors
    English goes silent on carbon deficit costs The Government is refusing to discuss what impact a 2030 carbon deficit will have on the economy – despite warnings from Treasury. Finance Minister Bill English has confirmed to Carbon News that Treasury is predicting carbon prices of between $10 and $165… ... read more
    Hot TopicBy Gareth
  • Gordon Campbell on the Sydney siege, and DHB budget cuts
    Whenever the authorities bring a siege situation to an end, there will be criticism if – as has happened in Sydney – any hostages are seriously hurt, or killed. The rationale for the Police decision to storm the café in Sydney will emerge later today. In the Sydney Morning Herald… ... read more
    Gordon CampbellBy ScoopEditor
  • The year of a man who’s been around a while
    Today the Treasury will likely publish fiscal figures less rosy than those Bill English managed into a “surplus” at budget time. Last week John Key took us another step from free nation to fearful huddle. English is no macho-politician. In the election campaign he did not talk up tax… ... read more
    Colin JamesBy Colin James
  • Tending fascist
    It is no fun being a critic in New Zealand. I’ve known this for quite some time, yet I’m not always prepared for the sharpness of the periodical reminders. Latest among these: Matthew Hooton, who in this week’s NBR takes me and Mandy Hager to task for objecting to Judith… ... read more
    Bat bean beamBy Giovanni Tiso
  • Tending fascist
    It is no fun being a critic in New Zealand. I’ve known this for quite some time, yet I’m not always prepared for the sharpness of the periodical reminders. Latest among these: Matthew Hooton, who in this week’s NBR takes me and Mandy Hager to task for objecting to Judith… ... read more
    Bat bean beamBy Giovanni Tiso
  • Tending fascist
    It is no fun being a critic in New Zealand. I’ve known this for quite some time, yet I’m not always prepared for the sharpness of the periodical reminders. Latest among these: Matthew Hooton, who in this week’s NBR takes me and Mandy Hager to task for objecting to Judith… ... read more
    Bat bean beamBy Giovanni Tiso
  • Two degrees: The history of climate change’s ‘speed limit’
    This is a re-post from Carbon Brief by Mat Hope & Rosamund Pearce Limiting warming to no more than two degrees has become the de facto target for global climate policy. But there are serious questions about whether policymakers can keep temperature rise below the limit, and what happens if they… ... read more
    Skeptical Science
  • Does Inequality Affect Economic Growth?
    A recently released OECD report concludes that economic inequality hurts economic growth, and has particularly done so for New Zealand. Some of our responses were plain bizarre. Either the non-economic commentators had not understood the issue or had not read the report.read more ... read more
    PunditBy Brian Easton
  • Does Inequality Affect Economic Growth?
    A recently released OECD report concludes that economic inequality hurts economic growth, and has particularly done so for New Zealand. Some of our responses were plain bizarre. Either the non-economic commentators had not understood the issue or had not read the report.read more ... read more
    PunditBy Brian Easton
  • Does Inequality Affect Economic Growth?
    A recently released OECD report concludes that economic inequality hurts economic growth, and has particularly done so for New Zealand. Some of our responses were plain bizarre. Either the non-economic commentators had not understood the issue or had not read the report.read more ... read more
    PunditBy Brian Easton
  • (Repost) The end of the inequality debate?
    Originally posted at On The Left. Inequality has become a central political issue in New Zealand and around the world. But there’s always been some argument, from the right, that inequality just happens, or provides an incentive for people to pull themselves up with their own bootstraps. Now, a new… ... read more
    Boots TheoryBy Stephanie Rodgers
  • All I want for Christmas is action on climate change
    When I was a kid, I was obsessed with Batman. Yet every Christmas morning, under the tree I found Superman merchandise. Apparently my parents couldn’t tell the difference, which led to several years of bitter disappointment. The annual round of pre-Christmas Climate Change talks is starting to feel the same… ... read more
    Gareth’s WorldBy Geoff Simmons
  • All I want for Christmas is action on climate change
    When I was a kid, I was obsessed with Batman. Yet every Christmas morning, under the tree I found Superman merchandise. Apparently my parents couldn’t tell the difference, which led to several years of bitter disappointment. The annual round of pre-Christmas Climate Change talks is starting to feel the same… ... read more
    Gareth’s WorldBy Geoff Simmons
  • All I want for Christmas is action on climate change
    When I was a kid, I was obsessed with Batman. Yet every Christmas morning, under the tree I found Superman merchandise. Apparently my parents couldn’t tell the difference, which led to several years of bitter disappointment. The annual round of pre-Christmas Climate Change talks is starting to feel the same… ... read more
    Gareth’s WorldBy Geoff Simmons
  • Megan Woods – adapting to a new environment
    Thirteen might be unlucky for some but not for Megan Woods, who has moved up the party rankings to the thirteenth slot in the recent shadow portfolio allocations. Having previously been Labour spokesperson for Tertiary Education and associate spokesperson for Science and Innovation, the Wigram MP is now Labour’s… ... read more
    Labour campaign
  • AGU 2014
    Once more unto the breach! Fall AGU this year will be (as last year) …the largest Earth Science conference on the planet, and is where you will get previews of new science results, get a sense of what other experts think about current topics, and indulge in… ... read more
    Real ClimateBy group
  • AGU 2014
    Once more unto the breach! Fall AGU this year will be (as last year) …the largest Earth Science conference on the planet, and is where you will get previews of new science results, get a sense of what other experts think about current topics, and indulge in… ... read more
    Real ClimateBy group
  • Ten Years of RealClimate: Where now?
    The landscape for science blogging, the public discourse on climate and our own roles in the scientific community have all changed radically over the last 10 years. Blogging is no longer something that stands apart from professional communications, the mainstream media or new online start-ups. The diversity of voices… ... read more
    Real ClimateBy group
  • Ten Years of RealClimate: Where now?
    The landscape for science blogging, the public discourse on climate and our own roles in the scientific community have all changed radically over the last 10 years. Blogging is no longer something that stands apart from professional communications, the mainstream media or new online start-ups. The diversity of voices… ... read more
    Real ClimateBy group
  • The escape of exnzpat, Part 26
    Magus Young, Magus Old   The couch, the couch, the couch, my God… thank God for it.  The Magus sunk back in its softness but found little comfort in her collapse, for she felt monumentally sick to her stomach.  The confusion between the worlds she thought she would walk with… ... read more
    The PaepaeBy exnzpat
  • Wisdom’s Mirror: Can Grant Robertson Slay The Neoliberal Gorgon?
    Reflected Gory: The Greek hero, Perseus, used Athena's bright shield to defeat Medusa. If Grant Robertson means to slay the neoliberal Gorgon he should, like Perseus, be guided by what he sees in Wisdom's Mirror. Neoliberalism can only be slain by the thing it set out to negate: the political economy of… ... read more
    Bowalley Road
  • Internet Mana : the divorce
    So the Internet Mana Party is no more. As 3News reports, a letter has been sent to the Electoral Commission to confirm that the relationship has been terminated. It’s hardly surprising. Given Kim Dotcom’s post-election acceptance that he’d poisoned the public mood against Internet Mana, it was only a matter of… ... read more
    Occasionally eruditeBy jononatusch
  • Dead rats and circumcision
    Saturday afternoon in Lima. On the good side, the one place selling good coffee is still open (the proper machines, rather than the horrible little Nescafe machines that the locals call ‘no es café.”) And I’ve managed to eke out my stack of kiwi Dark Ghana chocolate, saving the last… ... read more
    Hot TopicBy cindy
  • Dead rats and circumcision
    Saturday afternoon in Lima. On the good side, the one place selling good coffee is still open (the proper machines, rather than the horrible little Nescafe machines that the locals call ‘no es café.”) And I’ve managed to eke out my stack of kiwi Dark Ghana chocolate, saving the last… ... read more
    Hot TopicBy cindy
  • Dead rats and circumcision
    Saturday afternoon in Lima. On the good side, the one place selling good coffee is still open (the proper machines, rather than the horrible little Nescafe machines that the locals call ‘no es café.”) And I’ve managed to eke out my stack of kiwi Dark Ghana chocolate, saving the last… ... read more
    Hot TopicBy cindy
  • Did the Royal Society get it wrong about fluoridation?
    Did the Royal Society of NZ and the Office of the NZ Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor make a big mistake in their report Health Effects of Water Fluoridation: a Review of the Scientific Evidence)? Did they misrepresent a scientific paper which reported an effect of fluoride on the IQ of children?… ... read more
    Open ParachuteBy Ken
  • Did the Royal Society get it wrong about fluoridation?
    Did the Royal Society of NZ and the Office of the NZ Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor make a big mistake in their report Health Effects of Water Fluoridation: a Review of the Scientific Evidence)? Did they misrepresent a scientific paper which reported an effect of fluoride on the IQ of children?… ... read more
    Open ParachuteBy Ken
  • Alexa O’Brien, Amnesty International, testimony to Catalonia Parliament r...
    This testimony by Alexa O’Brien provides a good, compact ‘highlights’ package/history of the treatment whistle-blower Chelsea Manning received at the hands of the US Military judicial system. The video features her speaking with a translator (21 mins) while in the audio below (mp3 10 mins) the translator has been trimmed… ... read more
    The PaepaeBy Peter Aranyi
  • Opinion piece to PSA by Pete McMillen
    I have just had a look through SSC’s annual chief executive remuneration tables at 30 June 2014: http://www.ssc.govt.nz/rem-senior-state-sector-staff-to-30june14 As expected and as usual, spectacular salary increases for public sector chiefs, typically of the order 5% to as much as potentially 21% in MBIE’s case, summarised below for selected central government… ... read more
    Closing the GapBy Nick Wright
  • We put our Heads in the Sand last Sunday. This Monday, it’s time to tell ...
    Cartoon by Murdoch for the Christchurch Press. Reproduced by permission of @domesticanimal. We took action last Sunday… Heads in the Sand last Sunday, in which a thousand or so New Zealanders at 12 beaches around the country put their heads in the sand to symbolise the Government’s failure to act on climate change,… ... read more
    Coal ActionBy tjonescan
  • Statoil’s deafening silence
    Statoil has seen a lot of Greenpeace this week but so far its staying schtum in response to New Zealanders calling on it to ‘go home’.However, that deafening silence does not extend to the deep waters off the Northland coast right at the moment.Statoil has started its search for oil, about 120… ... read more
    Greenpeace NZ blog
  • Statoil’s deafening silence
    Statoil has seen a lot of Greenpeace this week but so far its staying schtum in response to New Zealanders calling on it to ‘go home’.However, that deafening silence does not extend to the deep waters off the Northland coast right at the moment.Statoil has started its search for oil, about 120… ... read more
    Greenpeace NZ blog
  • The 2014 Imperator Fish Awards
    The Imperator Fish awards are the highlight of the political year. Check out our winners for 2014. ... read more
    Imperator FishBy Scott Yorke
  • Vets wake up to cat problem, SPCA still asleep at the wheel
    Yesterday the NZ Vets Association (NZVA) demonstrated that they had woken up to the cat problem we have in New Zealand. They have conducted a literature review of the evidence and their findings (see below) are strikingly familiar to what I was saying almost two years ago with the Cats… ... read more
    Gareth’s WorldBy Gareth Morgan
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