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City Rail Link in the Budget?

Written By: - Date published: 8:57 pm, May 15th, 2013 - 45 comments
Categories: election 2014, housing, local body elections, national, polls, transport - Tags:

A reader sent us a comment from another blog by someone who was polled a couple of weeks back. The questions are very interesting, especially once you realise that it’s clearly being done for National and the Right in Auckland (one of the questions gives it away). Have a read, then I’ll tell you why I reckon the Nats are going to fund the City Rail Link in the Budget.

Asked me how I rated on a 1-5 scale John Key, David Shearer, Len Brown, Maurice Williamson…

Did I think NZ was headed in right or wrong direction.

Asked who I’d vote for today if a national election was held, and who I voted for last time.

Asked if I thought housing affordability was a major, moderate or non-issue.

Asked if housing affordability was due to land shortage, high compliancing/legal costs, or property developers profiteering…

Asked if Auck Council or NZ Govt were able to improve housing affordability. (I said 50/50).

Asked about expanding metropolitan limit, and increasing housing density in local centres.

Asked whether I thought CRL was very important, somewhat important, nice to have but not at expense of roading projects, or not needed at all.

Asked whether Puhoi-Welsford motorway extension was very important, somewhat important, nice to have but not at expense of rail projects or not needed at all

Asked about how transport improvements (of whatever type) should be funded, vis local fuel tax, local rates, national fuel tax or central govt taxes.

Asked how above funds, once raised should be split rail vs roads. (I went for 70% rail-30% roads- I haven’t read about whats required so I pulled that from my ass 🙂

Asked if knowing a council candidate was on a Citizens & Ratepayers (or whatever they’ve changed C&R to stand for now?) ticket would make me more or less likely to vote for them. No other council tickets were mentioned or asked about.

There may have been a few more questions on the same subjects, but it was pretty narrowly focused on getting an aucklander’s view on the major auckland issues, and how to pay for them, and does Maurice Williamson have a show… 🙂

So, questions about both national and local political figures and about policy decisions by both local and central government. The giveaway is only being asked about the C&R brand. Clearly, this was a poll commissioned by National/C&R – probably Curia.

One object seems to be to get data on whether Williamson has a shot at a mayoral run (hey, talk of that dried up pretty suddenly, didn’t it? Probably about the time these polling numbers came in)

The questions about housing affordability are interesting (only rightwing ‘answers’ offered – this is typical of Farrar’s accidental push-polling). It shows that National feels it needs to do something in this area and is searching for an option that would be politically saleable, even if ineffective in practice. English has already signalled that we’ll be seeing something along those lines (sounds good, does nothing) in the Budget.

But it’s the transport ones that catch my eye. Why would National want to know about views on the City Rail Link vs the Holiday Highway? They wouldn’t if their position is fixed. If they’re building the holiday highway come hell or high water and they’re dead set against the CRL, they don’t need to waste money asking polling questions about them.

So, what if National’s position isn’t fixed? What if they’re considering building the CRL and they’re considering dropping the Holiday Highway to pay for it? Then, they would want an idea of how receptive the public would be to such a move.

And we know basically what the numbers will have told them, because the question has been asked in public polls: Aucklanders think the CRL is more important than the Holiday Highway.

Clearly, the party that can get the CRL built has a lot of votes to gain, both in 2014 and at the local body elections.

Here, then, is my call: in the Budget, National will announce it is providing part funding for the CRL. Puhoi to Wellsford may be delayed to free up the cash or the money might come from the so-called ‘Future Investment Fund’ (ie. the asset sales revenue) to really fuck with the Left.

That will be a bold move that will attempt to wrong-foot the Left by adopting one of its own positions, in stark contrast to National’s pattern to date of focusing on fringe issues that only the business elite back. Conflating asset sales with getting the CRL would make things really tricky for the Left to finesse.

So, will National have the vision and cunning for that. Or are they too ideologically set against rail?


45 comments on “City Rail Link in the Budget?”

  1. Interesting comment. The “leaks” about the budget and affordable housing, more state housing, and food in schools are all good progressive ideas. It is as if the Nats know the next election will be lost unless they can grab some left support and adopt policies that are near and dear to lefties.

    It confuses the hell out of me. And supporting the CRL would cause a crisis of confidence.

    Maybe they will do anything as long as they can retain power and keep selling assets. Including selling their right wing souls.

    • IrishBill 1.1

      Looks like National have followed my advice on food in schools: http://thestandard.org.nz/the-problem-with-third-way-policies/


      • Colonial Viper 1.1.1

        The feel of it is that National are gearing up hard to win a 3rd term. And are willing to make some minor progressive sacrifices in order to do so.

        • felix

          Quelle surprise, I thought National were supposed to politely hand over the bat at the end of their go.

          After all, their poll numbers have been trending down. Surely that’s a sign that their term is coming to an end and they should give up.

          And Labour have been playing nicely, quietly waiting their turn like they ought to. With such a cooperative opposition it seems highly unfair of National to try and get re-elected by such dirty tricks as announcing policy that appeals to the voters.

          This just won’t do. It’s Shearer’s turn goddammit.

          • The Al1en

            Cynical it is, opportunist it is, last throw of the dice it certainly isn’t – It’s called on the attack politics, and if done, the nats would not only win votes because of it, they would also have the perfect excuse to flog off more assets as ‘in the public interest’ to fund similar projects like they promised.
            Well played… If they weren’t scum bag rich pricks.

            Still, not bullet proof.
            If the nats are willing to stump up for the crl project they’ve previously criticvised, why didn’t they build a convention hall with government cash that they say would bring in 90m a year?

            • red rattler

              Could be a win win if the NACTs sign up China Railway Group to do a Build-Operate-Transfer job. And who knows, a crl that goes over to the North Shore and beyond could open a fastrail link to Marsden Point. The NACTs have all the money and all the connections and are walking all over Labour.

          • Tamati

            Here’s a nice example of some complacent left wingers, thinking all they had to do was smile and talk about “Time for Change” to get elected. 20% ahead in the polls at the start of year, yet go on to lose in May!


            Would probably be a good game plan for Key and a pretty big warning for Shearer!

      • Alanz 1.1.2

        “Looks like National have followed my advice on food in schools”

        – be careful what is written here. Nats pick up ideas from here while the Labour leadership doesn’t read blogs.

  2. Tamati 2

    Always interesting to see what the internal polling is up to. I don’t think it is a push poll though, they tend not to be done in person. I think the wording is more about finding expressions to put into sound bites. Fox News and the Republicans are masters at this dark art, hence why “Healthcare Reform” and “Universal Healthcare” became “government take over of healthcare” and “Obamacare”. As Roger Ailes said:

    “When I die, I want to come back with real power. I want to come back as a member of a focus group.”

    [yeah, I didn’t say it was a push poll. the problem with farrar is his questions are limited to the existing framing of the people he’s meant to be finding info for… so the respondent has to answer in terms that suit the cient… Eddie]

    • IrishBill 2.1

      No, it’s not a push poll. It’s a poll that is trying to determine the most palatable way to frame an issue within the limits of a rightwing paradigm.

    • ghostwhowalksnz 2.2

      Pollsters are always like that, you gotta have the answers the bill payers like to hear- Ask Mitt Romney about that ?

  3. handle 3

    Parties adjust their communications planning with questions like these. It does not mean they will fund the Central Rail Link, just know how to talk about not doing it. Or in this case Williamson may not bother running for Mayor if his own libertarian bias is too far out of step with what Aucklanders want.

  4. Anne 4

    Clearly, this was a poll commissioned by National/C&R – probably Curia.

    Curia without a shadow of doubt. Has Farrar’s footprints all over it.

    • Tom Gould 4.1

      Did the polling company or organisation fail to name itself in the preamble? I thought that was a must in the industry code of ethics?

    • Anne 4.2

      Yes, it was Curia. They rang me this evening.

      I agree the questions were loaded and concentrated on Auckland City and the debate between the Rail Link and the Holiday Highway. Quite a complex poll. They are trying to gauge which of the funding options would evoke the least opposition.

      The other big issue was housing in Auckland and house prices in particular. They want to know who we’re blaming for the situation – the govt. or the council. C&R figured prominently – trying to find out if we’re put off by C&R and if so… they’ll stand supposedly independent candidates.

      My pick is this is a major poll which is also going to decide the strategy for their campaign next year. The background noise suggested to me there were at least 200 people on the phones. They’ll be ringing from one of the major polling companies. It will be costing them both arms and legs. Wonder what Farrar is charging them?

      Remember, elections are won and lost in Auckland.

      • karol 4.2.1

        Politics by poll just makes me sick. Where’s the conviction politics?

        Consulting with people is one thing, but using polls to find a sly way to slip in your desired policies is not in the spirit of democracy.

        • Colonial Viper

          Conviction politics? Cowardice politics seems more common.

        • Anne

          Precisely karol, and to back that up I’ve remembered another interesting question:

          Did I think the govt. was going in the right direction or the wrong direction?

          In other words they will change their ideology and policies to fit with the majority opinion. No basic principles or integrity, just whatever it takes to hang on to that aphrodisiac… absolute power.

  5. Mike 5

    Joyce used the Holiday Highway in one of his Question Time diatribes today against the opposition for opposing him
    So I don’t think it’s going away

  6. If it’s true, then that’s why Len Brown threw problem gamblers under the sky city bus on Monday.
    What is it with Ak mayors? It’s like every one of them has their price. Banks’ is cash in an envelope, Brown’s kids locked in an underground car park.

    If it’s true.

  7. Molly 7

    If the Budget reveals attempts to “wrong foot the Left” as you suggest (and which I also suspect), the best response from the Left should be “about time!”…. and front the media requests for comment with “We are ready to reach consensus on these policies and are looking forward to working together now that National has come to the party” and make it apparent they are willing to work together on these issues.

    The left has the opportunity to take any moves by National to appear ready to deal – and run with it – preferably in full view of the public.

    Only after a period of time, should any Left commentators say (somewhat regretfully) “… I don’t know what happened, we were ready to sit down and get these issues sorted and National vetoed any of the solutions the group came up with. Despite that, we have …..” fed 2000 kids breakfast… etc

    • georgecom 7.1

      To put that in different words, frame things so the left has the answers to our current problems and the Nats are finally coming round to our way of thinking. We have the answers, we are the future government that will address the nations problems. The nats have belatedly come to the party. Hey, it has taken them a long time but we want to make an EARLY START on getting these problems solved so we will deal with them now. When we get into office we will have some head start on which to build some really progressive and long term focused initiatives.

      We have the answers, we are the government in waiting, we can’t wait to get cracking. We are gripped by a sense of urgency. There is not a moment to lose, not a person to waste. The Nats have wasted 5 years and pushed many people to the side. They have finally woken up to some of the things that need to be done. We’ll work with them so we can make a start and hit the ground running when elected.

      A left Government = the answers to the nations problems
      Nats et al = continually playing catch up, no idea apart from following our lead

      • Colonial Viper 7.1.1

        Nice framing but where is this Left Government in Waiting gripped with Urgency and armed with Answers that you keep referring to?

        • Alanz

          There is a Labour Party sitting on the opposition benches that is supposed to be on the Left but so far under its current leadership, it has been more successful at showing it is Left Behind.
          Never mind. Don’t rock the boat. Give it six more months.

        • ghostwhowalksnz

          Glass always empty again CV ?

          • Colonial Viper

            Are you suggesting instead that the left wing glass is either half full, or completely full?

        • georgecom

          Well when has framing v reality actually stopped a government in the recent years I can count on the fingers of one hand?

          Brighter future
          Ambitious for NZ
          Wave goodbye to high taxes not your loved ones
          170,000 jobs
          etc etc

          I guess you might argue that the answers are in comparison with the lot in power at the moment, who are clueless about what to actually do about the problems, who think they are seeing ‘Wellington die and can’t do a thing about it’ etc etc.

          Not all the answers, fully admitted, simply far more than clueless and clueless. But importantly starting to develop some of the right answers for our future. Some way to go, yes, but at least the journey has been started. Clueless and clueless? Still transferring the nations welath into their mates pockets and little idea beyond that.

  8. Ad 8

    Far too early to get hopes up on CRL.
    Not even done the detailed business case, through Treasury Better Business Case framework.
    Best to hope for – and unlikely in my view – is Government saying “it’s worth thinking about”.

    anyone seen Labour’s alternative budget?
    Yesterday I just saw Parker in the Herald just agreeing with everything.

  9. tc 9

    If they back CRL then they risk looking desperate after slagging If off every opportunity and continuing with their roads to nowhere. If they use asset sales funds then that is another broken promise so as long as the opposition can stay on message it should be easy.

    Cue for twyford to prove he’s worth something after all maybe as DS seems feckless

  10. Salad 10

    Hang on a second. Maybe the mistake is thinking that the CRL is some kind of grand progressive, Left-wing project? After all, even the business lobbies support it these days…I think it is a good idea, but I don’t see what is inherently Left wing about it.

    • karol 10.1

      The focus on public transport is left wing. However, focusing only on rail is a limited vision. A substantial left wing approach would include linkages between buses and rail stations, and various incentives to get people walking, cycling and using public transport more, and using motor vehicles less on roads.

    • Stephen D 10.2

      Interesting point. The CRL is going to benefit those who use, or would use PT more. These people are not usually National voters. So it is a ‘left’ position in that is helps the bottom two thirds rather than the top third. OTOH businesses in Auckland realise the economic benefits of a decent PT system, so far the govt doesn’t.

      • Colonial Viper 10.2.1

        The CRL is going to benefit those who use, or would use PT more. These people are not usually National voters.

        I would tend to disagree around Auckland: everyone (and I do mean everyone) would like to see cars leave the motorways: even the people who drive new BMWs every day.

        • karol

          Yep. Even if they don’t want to use public transport themselves, they’d rather less people were using the roads.

          But, many people are eyeing the existing public transport, and want more of an incentive to get out of their cars – lower costs, more reliable and frequent PT, and more PT to diverse areas away from the rail lines.

  11. Rich the other 11

    Winning tactics,
    No money for the rail system , this time.
    Why would they partly fund it at this time when they have another budget after this one before the next election, it could be a vote winner in Auckland next time.

    The Govt’s on a roll with an abundance of good news story’s.
    Maurice Williamson will win if he stands.
    Len Browns housing plan is in tatters, it seems he forgot to ask AK residence if they would like high rise housing in their neighbour hood , another win for Nick Smith and the Nat’s .

    The left is going nowhere and are starting to panic , even submitters to this site are beginning to doubt the lefts ability’s.
    The economy is rapidly improving which creates real problems for the green/labour opposition.

    Long range prediction , next election a landslide win for National.

    • karol 11.1

      You should ask to write for the Civilian.

    • BM 11.2

      Yep, I’d be surprised if they don’t get a majority.

    • tracey 11.3

      “it seems he forgot to ask AK residence if they would like high rise housing in their neighbour hood” More evidenc eof the slefless community feeling of NZers. Just as they want more people in prisons but no prison built near them, they want their children to afford a home but not a 6 level complex near them.

    • karol 11.4

      TRto: Len Browns housing plan is in tatters, it seems he forgot to ask AK residence if they would like high rise housing in their neighbour hood ,

      Ummmm…. that is why it ‘s a draft Unitary Plan, and why there’s a call for submissions from the public, plus a load of public meetings about it.

      • tracey 11.4.1

        Nat supporters get confused over things like consultation and submission and pubblic meetings. They know what’s best for everyone else they find it frustrating to have to prove it.

  12. tracey 12

    The elephant int he housing affordability issue in Auckland, for politicians at least are leaky homes. I have been in this area of law for over 4 years now. There are over 80,000 home sin auckland ranging in values between $250k and over 1.4 million that cannot be sold because they are leaky (unless you want land value). Only about 8,000 of these owners had anyone they could sue (when they realised they had a leaky home) and the rpair costs are prohibitive and crippling for many. Take that number of homes out of the sale and purchase circulation and you have problems. BUT let’s just talk about the earthquake victims, supported by Govt, and insurance and not mention these people and their family and friends who are devastated emotionally and financially by all.

  13. tracey 13

    “The economy is rapidly improving” Thanks for the chuckle, it’s been a difficult day so far, speaking with those who the economy is failing and the justice system too… it’s always great to know amongst genuine suffering there are those who choose to belieev any old patter thrown their way.

  14. Mondograss 14

    I had a public meeting with Len about the Unitary Plan on the Shore a few nights ago. He didn’t mention the CRL once, despite it being central to the need to get decent public transport to the Shore. He did however mention the Holiday Highway several times, and not in negative terms either.

  15. tracey 15

    Mondograss… thanks for that. Buggered if I know what to make of it though…

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