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We don’t have time for this shit

Written By: - Date published: 1:00 pm, June 24th, 2020 - 52 comments
Categories: greens, labour, nz first, public transport, sustainability, transport - Tags:

Labour is conceding defeat on Auckland Light Rail before the election, with Cabinet failing to reach an agreement on either proposal.

RNZ previously reported that the project was dead in the water, but until now the government’s position has been that negotiations were ongoing.

In a statement, Minister of Transport Phil Twyford said Cabinet agreed to end the twin track process of the project, despite extensive cross-party consultation.

It will now be referred to the ministry for further work, with a decision left to be made until after the September general election, Twyford said.

Listening to RNZ news on this, here are the impressions I am left with.

NZ First don’t give a shit about climate change. Not in any meaningful sense. They might believe it’s real and that governments should take action, but they apparently are clueless about both the urgency and nature of the emergency.

Likewise National. Second up in the piece was Chris Bishop and his primary point was that this was a government fail. Blah blah Labour, you should let us be in government instead blah blah Labour have failed. Absolutely negatively National. These fuckers are all about gaining power, even worse than NZF. Caring for the world or New Zealand (the actual point of being the government) is secondary at best.

From RNZ again,

Twyford confirmed earlier this month his office had received an email on behalf of NZ First leader Winston Peters regarding light rail on 29 February, but said it was not in the public interest to reveal its contents.

RNZ has been told the email made clear NZ First’s objections to the project, namely its cost and scale, as well as the potential involvement of the CDPQ.

Auckland Light Rail was a flagship Labour promise in the 2017 election. It is also part of the confidence and supply agreement between Labour and the Greens.

In a statement, Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said Aucklanders would be disappointed in the delay.

“It is frustrating that after three years, disagreement within the coalition has held this process up,” Goff said.

“It’s now less than 90 days until the general election and we expect the incoming government to act quickly and decisively to outline its proposal to get light rail built.”

The government parties being Labour and NZF. The Greens, sitting outside of Cabinet, really want the project. Inside Cabinet, Labour supports it, and NZF is blocking it.

In addition to that the other critical point here is that our current MMP system isn’t transparent and this lack of transparency is both a detriment to our democracy and a way that Peters manipulates the electorate to stay in power. We should know what happened here and why. It beggars belief that development (or not) of key climate mitigation and future proofing infrastructure isn’t open to public scrutiny.

And what does this even mean? “…but said it was not in the public interest to reveal its contents.” We’re all guessing.

My hope is that the Greens and Labour go hard on this for this election. Make it completely clear that NZF are the ones blocking NZ’s ability to respond adequately to climate change as well as resolve Auckland’s transport issues.

An end note. Goff was talking about the pressures on the system that mean that Auckland can’t cope with just increasing buses. That’s a population issue and it’s the elephant in the climate change living room. Sitting alongside other population pressures eg we are building housing on prime food growing land right at the time when climate change is starting to affect global food supply, this is something the left won’t talk about. Indications are that covid is going to push food shortages as well.

From a green politics perspective, the ability to grow food locally is paramount and central to most other things because all humans need food above most other things and in a sustainable system you make that super resilient. At some point we are going to have to get to grips with what increasing population means in terms of the physical realities of the natural world. Housing, water, and transport are already significant issues in Auckland, and few are looking at this confluence through a genuine sustainability lens. If food security gets added to that, it’s not hard to see how we might tip over into a crisis.

If we adopted sustainability as the main management tool, we’d be seeing the connections between all those things, food, water, housing, transport, covid, work, home, community, climate, ecology. The solutions then look quite different, as do the priorities.

52 comments on “We don’t have time for this shit ”

  1. SPC 1

    Given NZF supports heavy rail extension to the airport, they could have done that – and connected up to the completed Rail Loop. They looked at a revised light rail plan subsequently. Movement is better than inaction.

    Instead a promise they could not deliver on in that term.

    If they promise it again and are then still reliant on coalition with NZF ..

    • Sabine 1.1

      But then they can't put the blame on NZFirst, which it seems is most of what they do when they promise and can't deliver. Which at this stage gets tired, considering that chances are they will need NZFirst again.

      I agree, do what they can agree on rather then complain that they can't get anything done cause ….'others'.

  2. Ad 2

    Greens are in Cabinet actually:

    • James Shaw, MP, Green Party Co-leader: Minister for Climate Change, Minister of Statistics, Associate Minister of Finance
    • Eugenie Sage, MP: Minister of Conservation, Minister of Land Information New Zealand, Associate Minister for the Environment,
    • Julie Anne Genter, MP: Minister for Women, Associate Minister of Health, Associate Minister of Transport
    • Jan Logie, MP: Parliamentary Undersecretary to the Minister of Justice (Domestic and Sexual Violence)

    No one in the government gets out of this one.

    • SPC 2.1

      No they are not, the 3 Ministers are outside Cabinet, and one is just an Under Secretary (not on the Executive Council).

      • Ad 2.1.1

        The Greens are in the worst of all worlds. Not in government but in government, part of a decision but not part of a decision. Part of the failures and not part of the failures. Maybe that's all they want. But all except their deepest 5% will see their performance for what it is.

        • SPC 2.1.1.1

          It's not the Greens fault that Labour did not get more votes than National. Once Labour can do that a Labour-Green coalition is possible.

          But even then I suspect Labour would choose to govern alone with Greens and NZF providing confidence and supply.

        • weka 2.1.1.2

          You sound just like National there Ad.

          It's pretty easy to see what the Greens have achieved if one wants to look.

          Having Ministers and not being in Cabinet was a boon for the Green Party in this first term in parliament. See if you can figure out why.

  3. RosieLee 3

    And NZF don't give a shit about environmental values – as in vetoing the extension of fishing restrictions around the Kermadecs. They are so up the u no wats of the fishing industry.

    • Adam 3.1

      NZF are vetoing John Key's showboating plan for a fishing ban around the Kermadecs because it breaches a treaty settlement, and because it it ineffective public policy.

  4. Dennis Frank 4

    Well, looking at the bright side of the situation, they've just hit the pause button. Three months till the election. Not a long pause. Up to voters now: they must render a verdict on NZF. If they want to make progress, they have to give Labour courage and ensure the Greens get over the threshold.

    Jacinda still has the neoliberal ideology programmed into her brain, so the shift from pretending to be transformational to actually doing it won't happen until she sees her way to do it. The verdict of the voters will provide the basis for her rethink. She would no doubt respond that she's been partly transformational already – and I concede that point in respect of the three party structure & Greens in cabinet…

    • SPC 4.1

      Are they in Cabinet?

      • Ad 4.1.1

        Would anyone be able to tell if they were?

        For example, the Associate Minister of Health is Julie Ann Genter. Haven't heard a peep out of her when all the contact tracing issue is going down. Clark took the hit and Woods shouldered the load. Nothing out of Genter.

        Julie Ann Genter is also the Associate Minister of Transport. One of her delegations is specifically to join the big strategic dots in "setting the strategic direction for the transport sector, ensuring alignment between strategy, policy and regulations within the land transport sector, and policy development to integrate transport (including public transport) and urban development."

        Not a peep out of her while it was all going on.

        • SPC 4.1.1.1

          It's not common for Associate Ministers, not in Cabinet, to take/have responsibility on such administrative or policy matters.

          • Ad 4.1.1.1.1

            You speak awesome weasel.

            The Greens need to shit or get off the pot.

            At least Labour and NZF stand up and take responsibility for their decisions.

            • SPC 4.1.1.1.1.1

              They are not part of the coalition government. If Labour and NZF cannot implement their own agreed policy, there is nothing Greens can do about it.

              • weka

                I think Ad likes to blame the Greens because he sees them as weak. Lack of analysis of power within parliament makes for poor arguments.

        • Rosemary McDonald 4.1.1.2

          For example, the Associate Minister of Health is Julie Ann Genter. Haven't heard a peep out of her when all the contact tracing issue is going down. Clark took the hit and Woods shouldered the load. Nothing out of Genter.

          Genter had responsibility or disability as the Ass. Min.Health.

          That role went to Salesa. Genter got responsibility for Women's Health.

          I wouldn't have expected her to have anything to say about Te Virus…

          (I'm not defending her…she did shit job of disability, done sweet FA for women's health (https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/education/300035545/specialists-concerned-at-university-of-otagos-proposed-medical-school-subject-changes…didn't hear a peep from her about that)…and I'm not sure what she has actually done for three years.)

      • Dennis Frank 4.1.2

        Nope. I was reflecting what Ad wrote; now seeing your correction to him, my memory of them being specified as you describe them has returned! Notwithstanding my senior moment, my concession to Jacinda on her inclusion point persists.

    • Draco T Bastard 4.2

      /agreed

  5. infused 5

    Chris has been covering the rail since day one. Expect him to be on Labours ass about this one since it was one of Labours election promises

  6. ScottGN 6

    I can’t say I’m too pissed off about this as it happens. I was a keen supporter of the original AT plans for light rail across the isthmus. But Labour have no one to blame but themselves. Twyford got seduced by the money guys from Montreal and the gold-plated schemes they came up with. All the tunnelling under Queens St or the elevated sections of line along Dominion Rd that were mooted were totally unnecessary. The idea that we would spend the thick end of 6 billion dollars just so a few business people could get from their hotels in the city centre to the airport a bit faster was madness. Thank god NZFirst have scuttled it for now. Maybe in few years more sensible heads will prevail and we can focus again on providing decent, rapid and frequent public transport for Aucklanders. First up after the election should be a proper focus on building the northwestern busway.

  7. Population pressure and runaway house prices aren't going to stop anytime soon. There are up to a million Kiwis based overseas, forced out by our low wage/high cost economy. Auckland is gonna be even more f*cked. Thanks Wellington

    • greywarshark 7.1

      edit
      But but Auckland always wanted to be big acording to those at the top there. They wanted to be a world first city or something, amalgamated like Brisbane did in Oz. Loved the name of the Town Clerk ‘Slaughter’ (or is that making fun of surnames ‘namesism’). This from the Wikipedia history about Brisbane and its growth since 1960.

      1961 saw the election of Clem Jones as Lord Mayor. Ald Jones, together with the town clerk J.C. Slaughter sought to fix the long-term problems besetting the city.

      Together they found cost-cutting ways to fix some problems. For example, new sewers were laid 4 feet deep and in footpaths, rather than 6 feet deep and under roads. In the short term, "pocket" or local sewerage treatment plants were established around the city in various suburbs to avoid the expense of developing a major treatment plants and major connecting sewers. ..

      And Auckland and Rodney Hide et al wanted to bumble along like them but transport has been Auckland's problem too. And they have built on floodplains, not having enough foresight to organise housing sufficient for their needs in the right places. Problem is familiar.

      The City Council hired American transport consultants Wilbur Smith to devise a new transport plan for the city.[19] They produced a report known as the Wilbur Smith "Brisbane Transportation Study" which was published in 1965. It recommended the closure of most suburban railway lines, closure of the tram and trolley-bus networks, and the construction of a massive network of freeways through the city. Under this plan the suburb of Woolloongabba would have been almost completely obliterated by a vast interchange of three major freeways.

      Although the trams and trolley-buses were rapidly eliminated between 1968 and 1969, only one freeway was constructed, the trains were retained and subsequently electrified. The first train line to be so upgraded was the Ferny Grove to Oxley line in 1979. The train line to Cleveland, which had been cut back to Lota in 1960, was also reopened.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Brisbane#Amalgamation_of_local_government_areas

  8. That_guy 8

    I'm really rather tired of people complaining about a party that got 6% of the vote not getting 100% of everything. I'm really rather tired of people complaining that the Greens don't get stuff done, when an extensive list of the many things they have done is just a Google away, and in fact has been featured on this blog.

    Most of all I'm tired of people concluding that the solution to the Greens not having enough power is to not vote for them.

    In fact I'm so goddam tired of it that I'm tired of being tired, and I'm stepping up, and hopefully in a couple of weeks I can make it official.

  9. Ken 9

    It would be nice to see the back of NZF after the election – or maybe see them invited back into the coalition on Labour's terms.

  10. Pat 10

    No surprises here…Winston First have only one objective and climate change isnt it

  11. Draco T Bastard 11

    RNZ has been told the email made clear NZ First’s objections to the project, namely its cost and scale

    So, basically, NZFirst are saying that they want more cheap, ineffective expense that will end up costing more.

    An end note. Goff was talking about the pressures on the system that mean that Auckland can’t cope with just increasing buses. That’s a population issue and it’s the elephant in the climate change living room.

    The water shortages that Auckland now routinely goes through is another population centred issue that nobody seems to want to address. Obviously costs too much to do anything about it else it would have been addressed so far but the higher density of population is good for the 'economy'.

    Indications are that covid is going to push food shortages as well.

    That wouldn't surprise me. Importation of food will pretty much guarantee importation of the virus.

    If we adopted sustainability as the main management tool, we’d be seeing the connections between all those things, food, water, housing, transport, covid, work, home, community, climate, ecology. The solutions then look quite different, as do the priorities.

    When you look at the economy through the lens of physical reality it takes on a completely different hue from what our economists and politicians think it has. The simple fact of it is that as soon as the price of something is considered subjective rather than objective is the point at which the pricing system fails.

    • ScottGN 11.1

      I don’t think that’s really fair on NZ First Draco. We had a perfectly serviceable Light Rail plan that was conceived by the Council and Auckland Transport. Unfortunately this has rapidly turned to custard after Twyford and the CDPQ Infra gang from Montreal got involved. After what has transpired with Transmission Gully and the PPP set up with that we’ve probably dodged a bullet.

    • gsays 11.2

      "Obviously costs too much to do anything about it else it would have been addressed so far but the higher density of population is good for the 'economy'."

      It doesn't cost too much to insist every new dwelling must have a water tank, or would that be bad for Watercare's economy?

      • Draco T Bastard 11.2.1

        Same reason why we don't have solar panels and water heating as part of house construction – that would be taking people's choice away from them.

        Its truly amazing how many people choose the more expensive option that makes a few people richer and them poorer.

  12. Byd0nz 12

    Muldoon's protege (Winston Peters) is well passed his used by date. Lets hope its retire time for him come September

  13. ScottGN 13

    Greens are saying on Facebook that they’re pleased the two-track tendering process between NZTA and CDPQ Infra has been terminated and that planning will revert to the civil service after the election.

    • Sacha 13.1

      Neither the Greens nor Winston were fond of the over-engineered PPP that was being promoted in Cabinet by Twyford. https://www.newsroom.co.nz/1246907/auckland-light-rail-put-on-ice

      Green Party transport spokeswoman Julie Anne Genter welcomed the cancellation of the entire process to date.

      “With the twin track process over, detailed planning work on light rail can continue and key design and financing decisions can be taken quickly after the election."

      Auckland Transport's original proposal for light rail was reported to have been "shovel ready", but it was also a very different street-car-style system to the one proposed by NZ Super CDPQ.

      Twyford said NZ Infra's case was "unique and compelling", but critics including Greater Auckland editor Matt Lowrie criticised the huge cost of the scheme both in terms of time and the PPP arrangements themselves.

      On Wednesday morning, Lowrie told Newsroom he understood NZTA had changed Auckland Transport’s original proposal for light rail to one more in line with CDPQ’s proposal: a fully grade-separated light metro system solely focused on a fast trip to the airport.

      The whole original point of light rail was to connect up the areas around the length of Dominion Rd not serviced by rail – after the CCFAS study had verified that no more buses could fit into the city centre. Mangere and the airport business precinct were similarly not served by existing rail corridors.

      Focusing instead on getting to the airport fast was a ridiculous distraction favoured by politicians and executives who spend way more time there than the rest of us ever will.

      • ScottGN 13.1.1

        Couldn’t agree more Sasha. As per my comments further up the thread. Winston usually drives me crazy but in this case he’s done us all a favour.

      • ScottGN 13.1.2

        And if Twyford (and Labour generally) had had the good sense to have progressed the original AT design we’d well on the way now to getting the bloody thing instead of the usual 2 decade plus timeframe that Auckland infrastructure always seems to take.

    • weka 13.2

      thanks for that, appreciate the comments. Have to admit I wasn't up to researching this one. So sick of the whole set up. I'm not against NZF being in govt so much as I think they should go because of the transparency and power issues. I think the points around climate and sustainability stand.

    • SPC 13.3

      One could hard rail extension to the airport (timing would fit with the Rail Loop work) and do Dominion Road as light rail as well.

  14. Ben 14

    What does sustainability mean?

  15. Climaction 15

    as long as the greens refuse to deal with national, this will be the outcome everytime unless there are votes in doing it for NZ1.

    the greens could be the socialist and environmentalist handbrake to national as nz1 is to labour greens.

    But no, purity in association and thought is far more important than effectively saving the environment.

    • Dennis Frank 15.1

      Nats created their bluegreens to save the environment. Made them subservient to business as usual, so the consequence has been limited – although I read their website a few years ago and their list of achievements did actually impress me.

      James Shaw said he was willing to consider anything the Nats sent him after the last election. They dropped that ball. Todd gets credit for working with James, and the other Nats for their support of the climate deal, but too little too late.

      Although I often criticise our Green leadership for what it doesn't do (I'm a GP member), in regard to future collaboration the ball is still in the Nat court. Their problem is too many dinosaurs – they need some big-brain mammals to get into parliament and lift the quality of their mix…

      • Climaction 15.1.1

        Your not wrong, but the majority of the greens would rather die sucking on v8 exhaust pipe than deal with national

        such a shame.

        • solkta 15.1.1.1

          You either don't pay attention to National policy and actions or you are just trolling. The Greens would not even be able to pull National across to the starting point they have with Labour in regard environmental policy.

  16. newsense 16

    Hmm. Sure someone has made this point, but the Greens don't want Twyford's PPP mess right? So not all NZ First's fault at all.

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