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Water, water everywhere, why not stop to think?

Written By: - Date published: 7:11 am, May 22nd, 2008 - 18 comments
Categories: economy, national - Tags: , ,

From the MP who tried to ban water comes ‘don’t use crash statistics to work out which roads are dangerous’. Writing in the Oamaru Mail about a dangerous stretch of road, National MP Jacqui Dean says:

“Transit New Zealand often places too great an emphasis on the crash statistics it receives from Land Transport New Zealand when setting out its roading improvement priorities”

Instead, Dean argues, Transit should be fixing a specific piece of road she thinks is dangerous. No evidence, just she reckons it needs to be top priority despite what the stats say.

Evidence-based decision making! The outrage! I know that National struggles to get women candidates but is Dean, whose only achievements have been to come out against water and statistics, the best they could do?

Perhaps, Dean thinks Transit should decide which stretches of road need safety improvements by adopting the method National uses to set policy: flip a coin (heads – adopt Labour’s policy, tails – oppose it), wait a week, then flip again.

18 comments on “Water, water everywhere, why not stop to think? ”

  1. T-Rex 1

    Her Oamaru Mail article can be found here, on her website.

    Agreed – it’s a position only a moron would take.

    What’s this about water?

  2. T-Rex 2

    Hot off the press!!!


    National promises to deliver budget full of vague generalisations and buzzwords.

    Looks like whoever picked the “last stand” label won the pot.

    Honestly, why is everyone in National so f*cking useless! I used to have some time for Bill English, these days he’s like an angry mongrel. Note how he references the ‘hidden evil’ of inflation (I forget his exact words), yet still advocates “the lifting of the tax burden”. Despite the fact that the IMF just came out in support of Cullen on the issue.

    Honestly, it’s pathetic. Like watching the most desperate and petty of playground bullies.

  3. Vanilla Eis 3

    T-Rex, see http://www.stuff.co.nz/4200797a6160.html

    This is pretty retarded, although I believe her Di-Hydrogen Monoxide scare was worse (that is to say, more retarded).

    Captcha: ‘it reinforced’. It certainly did.

  4. AncientGeek 4

    Arrgh I thought that the road problem was a bit retarded, but something that a local MP might push on. After all they represent their local constituents, and sometimes that means getting local pork. That is why we run country wide allocation of resources because otherwise the available resources get poorly distributed.

    But getting sucked in on the dihydrogen monoxide by herself or her staff is simply amazing. I’ve realised for years that the level of scientific illiteracy is widespread, and getting worse – just look at climate change deniers. But this test hoax really highlights it

    A worthy representative – the question is of what?.

  5. Yep you have to be pretty slow to be fooled by the old ‘dihydrogen monoxide’ jape . Politicians of all colours should leave engineering to the engineers.

  6. Ancient Geek: “A worthy representative – the question is of what?”


  7. Joker 7

    Here we go again.

    National MP is called out for being a bit of a numpty. Assumptions are made about the competence of Nationals whole caucus and their decision making process on policy.

    At least ten oxygen theiving Labour MP’s are listed as a counter point.

    Ends with witty ripostes about house tiling, art forgery, speeding, election stealing etc etc.

  8. insider 8

    Can’t be bothered reading the article but I’ll give you an example though of how there is a smidgen of truth in this.

    It’s my understanding that Transit do no analysis of the causes of accidents, they just look at raw numbers and deaths figure highly. They also do it over stretches rather than points on a road, so you could have two completely unrelated events in terms of cause contributing to the same roading change which might then actually take place in the space between those two events.

    So when Transit decided it wanted to reconfigure a local road, it used the death of a cyclist on that road as a reason – there were actually very few fatalities on the road. The only problem was, the cyclist was killed because transit were testing paints and put the wrong type on the road, and the guy slipped on them and went under a car. SO Transit’s own incompetance was used as a justification for building a new road whcih does not remove the risk.

    I’m not suggesting there is anything sinister here, it;s just that transit smear and average data. It’s not precise and perhaps that is the best way. But in a sense some data can be irrelevant or misleading if it is accepted as is.

  9. T-rex 9

    Cheers insider – interesting perspective. I don’t know if it really increases the validity of Deans argument though, although I accept your point that Transits process could lead to manipulation of priorities. So – ironically enough – Transit actually DOESN’T make its decisions purely on LTSA stats.

    The DHMO thing doesn’t bother me that much. She was retarded not to google it before writing a letter to Anderton, but I don’t expect MP’s to all be chemists. Outcome is just that she looks a bit silly, but at least her motivations were good. In this case her motivations seem potentially pretty self-interested.

    I’m still alot more annoyed about English’s column. He’s the guy who sits in the corner during meetings and makes snide remarks about anything that’s suggested, and when called on only offers “vision”, no substance.

  10. Felix 10

    but I don’t expect MP’s to all be chemists.

    True enough.

    I do expect them to be critical thinkers though, and you shouldn’t have to be a chemist to recognize the one compound that just about everyone does know the formula for.

    Insider makes a good point. One hypothetical scenario which seems possible is that of an area with higher than normal drinking and driving rates being mistakenly allocated roading dollars due to the number of fatal accidents.

  11. Draco TB 11

    So when Transit decided it wanted to reconfigure a local road, it used the death of a cyclist on that road as a reason…

    Got linky?

  12. MikeE 12

    This is the same woman who once called me “Left wing” on National radio… and she compared the old status quo on BZP to legalising rape and murder:

    “Public policy must always weigh up personal freedoms vs prescription regulation or prohibition. There are a number of activities and substances that are prohibited in our society, would you for example support the decriminalisation of rape or murder, or “p”?”

    Make of that what you will.

    Then again, those on the left weren’t particularily big fans of evidence based decision making either when it came to the BZP ban, relying on evidence that didn’t meet peer review, rather than the actual facts of harm.

    But we can conveniently ignore this if you’d like.

  13. Matthew Pilott 13

    mikeE – I have yet to meet a single person (in person or on line) from the left who supports the BZP ban. Have you? Maybe I need to travel to Anderton territory for that but even then it’s doubtful.

    You are, of course, promoting a ‘you did it so why can’t I approach’ here, which isn’t much use.

  14. insider 14


    reference to the inquest here http://www.wvcc.org.nz/sl02002/sl53.pdf

    SamRaphael died in 1999.

  15. MikeE 15

    Matthew Pilot – how about the entire Labour Caucus, who just so happened to vote for it….

    Or are they Labour party not from the left anymore? or just not real people?

  16. Matthew Pilott 16

    MikeE, I didn’t realise you were talking about politicians; generally when someone uses a term such as ‘the left’ it’s construed as a broad-based statement encompassing everyone in said category. Have you met anyone from the left who said they supported the ban?

    When you said “we can conveniently ignore this” you presumably mean National Party MPs then (‘the left’ being “they”, and ‘the right’ being “we” forom your perspective…), and you think they should now ignore stats because Anderton’s bill was passed?

  17. So when Transit decided it wanted to reconfigure a local road, it used the death of a cyclist on that road as a reason – there were actually very few fatalities on the road. The only problem was, the cyclist was killed because transit were testing paints and put the wrong type on the road, and the guy slipped on them and went under a car. SO Transit’s own incompetance was used as a justification for building a new road whcih does not remove the risk.

    Not exactly, the configuration of the road was always dangerous, two lanes plus a meter and a bit of shoulder that was safe to ride in, then as rises up too the traffic lights the shoulder dissapears and cyclists are forced to share a lane with traffic.

    And they were not testing paint, they were saving money by not laying the paint to proper specification.

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