There is one thing that shines through in the coverage of the biography of John Key today. It is by a veteran arselicker of the right – John Roughan, veteran editorial writer and columnist for the NZ Herald. He is someone that I have no respect for because his writing has a short-term approach to Auckland that is more characterised by stupidity and a rabid adherence to National’s partisan campaign needs. Both as an anonymous editorial writer and in his columns.
My main impression on John Roughan was gained after the NZ Herald ran a “white elephant” smear campaign in 2007/8 against the Northern Busway as it was being built and opened. In my view the only reason that a series of idiotic columns like this one were written was to further the short term campaign objectives of the National party, just as we are seeing at present. In it, he said that
Reportedly the parking lots are already filled most weekday mornings but it has made little difference to the motorway congestion. The public transport entrepreneurs intend that we forsake the car entirely and take a bus to the busway. I hope they are right but I really don’t think so.
Still, it is a road and there is an economic use for it. It is self-contained, access is easily controlled. Eventually it could be a tollway for general traffic, the only reliable solution to congestion.
Of course in practice, the northern busway has been roaring success in its main objective of getting people out of their cars and using public transport to get to work. As you can see from the green in the graph, public transport in rush hour across the bridge took off once the Northern busway was completed.
The reality is that the only problem with busway was lack of money put into providing park and ride buildings on the North Shore. In my view this was in no small part due to the short-sighted editorial views of the NZ Herald with its vehement objections to the whole project.
Effectively the Northern busway project has saved taxpayers and ratepayers an incredible amount of money over the long-term because we won’t need to put in a new harbour crossing for quite some time. This is quite clear from the traffic volume stats.
As the Transportblog put it when reviewing the Harbour Bridge on its birthday this year.
Seemingly ever since the bridge was first built people have been talking about the need for an additional crossing. Amazingly despite serious discussion about another crossing popping up every few years there has yet to be a firm need for it and thankfully it seems to be one of those projects that are always needed in an ever shifting few decades. Buses have helped more and more people across the harbour while the suggestion of the bridge or its clip-ons falling into the harbour has been repeatedly dismissed by the NZTA. That is a good thing as a new crossing is expected to be hugely expensive at about $5 billion which is over twice the cost of the CRL.
Needless to say John Roughan was against the idea of the City Rail Link as well. Apparently for no other reason than it was rail rather than supporting the failed vision of a city of cars that he appears to love. As the Transport blog pointed out, his view was really badly informed.
Now eventually like most mindless conservatives, after a project is built and works he comes to think it was a good idea retroactively. For instance in this column last year where he was talking about a second rail harbour crossing …
The crossing would have to be under water and probably it would be connected to the northern busway that one day conceivably could be converted to a railway, but that, too, is a solution looking for a problem.
The busway, like the bridge, is fine.
The problem lies in roads closer to home. By car it can take as long to get on to the motorway as it takes for the rest of the journey. By bus it takes too long to get to a busway station. Once on the busway, you can be in the city in eight minutes.
Of course the real issue there is the abysmal lack of bus stations with large parking buildings. From what I have heard, one of the main reasons that people from the Shore still take cars to work in town is because they can’t find a park within walking distance of the bus stations.
What is the bet that when these start getting built that he will find some reason to oppose them as well despite every person who uses the busway knowing full well that is the underlying problem.
The reality is that whatever John Roughan initially opposes with his typical unthinking short-term approach, do the opposite and you’re likely to get a good result. As one comment on the busway said
If John Roughan was in a Marvel comic, he would be called “Never Right Man”.
I think that sums him up. I suspect that whenever I get around to reading an epub with the arselicking biography he has put out about John Key, I’m going to find those same Roughan characteristics that I have come to despise. The same short-term stupidity, kneejerk bigotry based on failed ideology, lack of fact checking, and a chronic inability to think issues through that we see in his columns and anonymous editorials.
But it can’t be just him. It is a culture that seems to permeate throughout the NZ Herald. Just look at Jared Savage’s repeated gullible coverage of Donghua Liu‘s ever varying statements or John Armstrong’s rather strange call for David Cunliffe’s resignation over a form letter requesting information are other recent examples.