The true cost of Dr Cullen’s train set

March 1st, 2009 at 6:40 pm by David Farrar

One News tonight has revealed the true cost of Dr Cullen’s train set. The purchase price was a massive $690million.

On top of that we have $473 million of subsidies needed over the next five years, $764 million of upgrades and $275 million for metro services.

So all up that is $2.202 billion!!

Thanks Michael. No wonder the Aussies refer to the sale as “Sale of the Century”. It will be that long until the next time they find some Kiwis stupid enough!

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81 Responses to “The true cost of Dr Cullen’s train set”

  1. slijmbal (1,236 comments) says:

    So to add to Cullen’s Folly (not so super fund) we now have kiwifail – only $500 for every man, woman and child in the country. He was true to the end – spending all the money to stop National and ensuring wealth transfer to Oz.

    I know a lot of people dislike Mr Clark but Cullen was Goebbels to her Hitler – he has done so many terrible things to our economy it’s hard to know where to start – we will be a decade recovering from this evil little s**t.

    Look on the bright side we’ll be paying for a stomping great pension for him for the next hundred years . aaarrrrrrrrggggggghhhhhhhhhhhh! !!!!

    [DPF: And that is 20 demerits for Hitler references]

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  2. Ross Miller (1,704 comments) says:

    All New Zealanders good and true should be appalled at these revelations. We knew it was bad but never this bad.

    Labour’s reckless decision to buy rail from Toll had nothing to do with commercial realities and everything to do with trying to skewer National in an election campaign four months away. And Quising Bolger signed up to it and I will never forgive him for that (and this from someone who put his career on the line for him).

    If it were possible the purchase should be referred to the Serious Fraud Office. Ok, it can’t but the sentiment remains.

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  3. slijmbal (1,236 comments) says:

    Showing my ignorance why do Hitler references get demerits – honest question? And how mayny demerits should I be worried about?

    [DPF: Because it is offensive to compare people to Hitler]

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  4. Sushi Goblin (419 comments) says:

    I hope to hell National don’t extend any assistance to finding Cullen a new job. Let the bastard find his own way home to the perdition he deserves.

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  5. billyborker (1,102 comments) says:

    Funny as DPF – you lambast One News for getting it wrong about hire and fire and yet you happilly accept that they are 100% correct with this. Biases showing?

    [DPF: In one story they described a law totally inaccurately. In another they quoted official papers (I presume accurately) as to the cost of rail. Just because they stuff one story up, doesn't mean they are wrong on everything]

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  6. dad4justice (8,222 comments) says:

    I hope history is cruel to Dr Caustic Kullen. What a disgrace!

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  7. billyborker (1,102 comments) says:

    slijmbal –

    No references to Hitler, the internet calls it Godwin’s Law and roots around it.

    No references to d4j having children, that’s 20 for even thinking it.

    Get to 100 and you get slapped into coventry for a week, although it sometimes seems like 2 as DPF doesn’t always keey an accurate day by day track of demerits.

    Anyway, that’s about 60 for me for spilling the beanz (remember beanz, the internet currency?)

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  8. dad4justice (8,222 comments) says:

    “No references to d4j having children, that’s 20 for even thinking it.”

    Real hatred for me eh fugley. You are one fucked up unit!

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  9. Ross Miller (1,704 comments) says:

    billyborker …. I read your utterances and conjure up a mental picture of you … and it ain’t pretty.

    But then again the Party of your choice ain’t either.

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  10. slijmbal (1,236 comments) says:

    Billy – showing my ignorance and me on the internet from 1995 – though I only started posting on blogs last year – I obviously don’t do many nazi references. Am I allowed to be obtuse and talk about things like the trains running on time :) ?

    it’s hard for One news to get numbers wrong from an OIA request to be fair.

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  11. Patrick Starr (3,674 comments) says:

    Surprised he only got a job in the treaty industry. He could have easily have had some lifetime highpaid job in some remote office for Toll.

    the prick should get life without parole.

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  12. bwakile (757 comments) says:

    Cullen’s new motto

    Been there
    Got done

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  13. billyborker (1,102 comments) says:

    slijmbal – yes, references to trains running in time is OK because that was Mussolini, and Godwin’s Law only applies to Hitler/NAZI references. Of course, if you said the trains to Bergen-Belsen always ran on time, that’s another 20 demerits.

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  14. kaye (14 comments) says:

    Cullen’s incompetence is breathtaking.

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  15. Doug (410 comments) says:

    Just rip up the tracks and make it a truck only highway with a cycle track beside, dispose of the trains for scrap.

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  16. Brian Smaller (4,023 comments) says:

    Thanks Michael. No wonder the Aussies refer to the sale as “Sale of the Century”. It will be that long until the next time they find some Kiwis stupid enough!

    Or at least until Labour get in again. Only they are that stupid.

    [DPF: And that is 20 demerits for Hitler references]

    How about Cullen was Beria to Clark’s Stalin?

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  17. slijmbal (1,236 comments) says:

    Billy – I believe the original reference to trains on time was actually those who may not be named – Mussolini copied it and took it over as part of his emulation of those who may not be named…. but you’re right – wrong reference for the majority as it’s now seen as Mussoloni.

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  18. big bruv (13,888 comments) says:

    I bet things will not be all cost and snug in the Soper household this evening.

    Red Barry and his child bride seem to be coming from the opposite sides of the political fence on this one, you would NEVER see Heather’s hubby doing a story attacking Klark or Kullen.

    I wonder who is sleeping on the couch tonight???

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  19. slijmbal (1,236 comments) says:

    to me “Cullen was Beria to Clark’s Stalin” is just as bad – Stalin was fairly high on the evil death stakes with purges, concentration (sorry labour) camps, purges, causing famine etc – he would probably be responsible for millions of deaths.

    I’ll just have to stick with he was Perky to Helen’s Pinky :)

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  20. slijmbal (1,236 comments) says:

    Of course, Toll are still getting a preferential rate see
    http://www.nbr.co.nz/article/kiwirail-admits-toll-still-getting-preferential-rates-61180

    and as referred to in this article the the true value was 1 tenth of 1% of bugger all see http://www.nbr.co.nz/article/treasury-papers-show-government-was-sucker-punched-over-rail-deal-35245

    We could tie Cullen (definitely not someone whose name begins with the letter G) to the track but we now realise that the train would not be able to get there to run him over as the lines are that bad.

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  21. billyborker (1,102 comments) says:

    But only if the train ran on time…

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  22. slijmbal (1,236 comments) says:

    [DPF: Because it is offensive to compare people to Hitler]

    it’s probably also offensive to say “the prick should get life without parole” or “You are one fucked up unit!”. both statements in this thread.

    Confused but educated. btw I cannot find any reference to the 100 limit anywhere in your info. I did find it here http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2007/10/demerit_points.html but nowhere else

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  23. wikiriwhis business (3,998 comments) says:

    “Cullen was Beria to Clark’s Stalin” is ”

    Who was ‘Beria?’

    Was he a certain SS official named Paul Beria I have read of but can find no wikipedia about?

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  24. slijmbal (1,236 comments) says:

    Laventry Beria – interestingly also a short man

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  25. wikiriwhis business (3,998 comments) says:

    Ya Slijmbal, Just wikied him.

    Who knows how close to him Cullen could’ve become if Labour had been able to completely diminish democracy.

    THe only reason many pollies are running free is because the socialist’s took away the treason laws.

    Pollies on both sides of the house take advantage of that.

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  26. Glutaemus Maximus (2,207 comments) says:

    Cynical is the watchword for the Cullen Programme.

    The intereresting fact is that the Pinkos, aka MS said that the rail system had to be bought whatever the cost.

    Staggering lack of commercial nous.

    According to Micky Savage it didn’t matter if the tax payers paid 50-100 times valuation, as it had to be acquired.

    Bizzare.

    The bad news is that the Ferries are old and challenged.

    In some of the most challenging waters in the World.

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  27. wikiriwhis business (3,998 comments) says:

    “The bad news is that the Ferries are old and challenged.

    In some of the most challenging waters in the World.”

    And European ones have been proving that exactly in recent years.

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  28. lofty (1,310 comments) says:

    Jeez… don’t tell me that about the ferries, mum & I are shooting over to the SI for 3 weeks cruising next Sunday, I am having enough trouble convincing her that the ferries are all good, even if it is rough.

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  29. lofty (1,310 comments) says:

    May I ask if the Govt wants to flog off bits of the train set, can I buy just 1 bit I reckon will be a money maker?
    1st dibs

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  30. Don the Kiwi (1,754 comments) says:

    Further up, the references to Stalin and a German chap named Adolph.

    Stalin was worse than the German chap named Adolph – he actually killed around 35 million of his OWN people, let alone those he killed during the war.
    The German chap named Adolph was responsible for around 6 million deaths in concentration camps – mainly Jews, but also others, plus the people whe were killed in war through his actions.
    So to compare people to Stalin IMO is worse than comparing people to the German chap named Adolph :-)

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  31. Patrick Starr (3,674 comments) says:

    slijmbal. the question is – offensive…… to whom?

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  32. slijmbal (1,236 comments) says:

    Don – once you get in to the millions it get’s a bit moot – but you underscore my point – comparing someone to someone whose names rhymes with talon is as bad as comparing them to someone whose name rhymes with whittler (had to think about that one).

    Patrick – agreed – it’s subjective – so I’m right :) lol

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  33. emmess (1,428 comments) says:

    To me, it appears that Sjimbal was not comparing Clark with Hitler
    For example saying Moon is to Night like Sun is to Day is not equating Day and Night

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  34. Paul Marsden (998 comments) says:

    Speaking of Adolph and Stalin, it reminds me of how old the rolling stock is. An astute purchase Mr. Cullen.

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  35. Patrick Starr (3,674 comments) says:

    slijmbal. i was referring to your: “it’s probably also offensive to say “the prick should get life without parole”

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  36. Ratbiter (1,265 comments) says:

    Paul Marsden: For a few weeks I had to live in Johnsonville and I worked in a Wellington CBD office (Private sector) with no parking available. The trains were literally the only way I was going to be able to get to work each day.

    You know what was wrong with the 60 year old English Electric multiple units? NOTHING! Got me to work. Got me home again. Sure beat walking.

    You don’t throw something away just because it’s old – just look at Roger Douglas.

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  37. Glutaemus Maximus (2,207 comments) says:

    We are not comparing apples with apples here.

    Which other entity was bidding for KIWIFAIL?

    Nobody, and yet Cullen thought it was aper pro to pay top dollar X 6 for the whole deal.

    What a rain maker!

    He must be so proud.

    Hope that one day, he wakes up and can see the enormity and stupidity of that particular deal.

    Doubt that he ever will. He is so perfect!!

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  38. Paul Marsden (998 comments) says:

    Ratbiter. I agree with you, but only an inept and idiot socialist would pay several times the book value. Even more of an idiot when he is the only interested purchaser.

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  39. reid (16,453 comments) says:

    Cullen is not a fool. He knew what he was buying and what he would be paying for it. As Buffet says in his annual report (worth reading), price is what you pay, value is what you get.

    If you agree with the proposition that a Finance Minister with nine years experience, with access to some of the best financial analysts, strategists and number crunchers in the business, is unlikely to be a fool, then you’re left with only one conclusion.

    He did it for ideological reasons…

    This guy was prepared to send the taxpayer down the river for ideological reasons, knowing that this financial burden would fall upon us.

    Furthermore, this guy must have known when he bought it, the full magnitude of what is hitting us now. He has access to all overseas data and he knew exactly what was happening in the US, the UK, Europe, China and all the major markets. If you could not forecast what is happening now back then with all that data then you’re a fucking moron.

    Point in case. Philu says he’s known about it since 2006. Now d’ya think Cullen’s dumber than Philu?

    So he deliberately dropped us in the shit, for what?

    Ideology. Nothing less, nothing more.

    Once again both DPF and Whaleoil were onto it from day the purchase was announced.

    Thank fuck for bloggers.

    But just once, just fucking once, I’d like to see the media grab this prick, shove him against the wall (figuratively speaking of course) and ask him what the fuck he was thinking about when he made this choice.

    I’d also like to see him lose his pension because of this. He deserves to.

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  40. reid (16,453 comments) says:

    Cullen is not a fool. He knew what he was buying and what he would be paying for it. As Buffet says in his annual report (worth reading), price is what you pay, value is what you get….

    If you agree with the proposition that a Finance Minister with nine years experience, with access to some of the best financial analysts, strategists and number crunchers in the business, is unlikely to be a fool, then you’re left with only one conclusion.

    He did it for ideological reasons.

    This guy was prepared to send the taxpayer down the river for ideological reasons, knowing that this financial burden would fall upon us.

    Furthermore, this guy must have known when he bought it, the full magnitude of what is hitting us now. He has access to all overseas data and he knew exactly what was happening in the US, the UK, Europe, China and all the major markets. If you could not forecast what is happening now back then with all that data then you’re a fucking moron.

    Point in case. Philu says he’s known about it since 2006. Now d’ya think Cullen’s dumber than Philu?

    So he deliberately dropped us in the shit, for what?

    Ideology. Nothing less, nothing more.

    Once again both DPF and Whaleoil were onto it from day the purchase was announced.

    Thank fuck for bloggers.

    But just once, just fucking once, I’d like to see the media grab this prick, shove him against the wall (figuratively speaking of course) and ask him what the fuck he was thinking about when he made this choice.

    I’d also like to see him lose his pension because of this. He deserves to.

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  41. Patrick Starr (3,674 comments) says:

    whats unreal about this is all the dickheads who lauded this as a great idea – (the same ones who are now lobbying to cancel the tax cuts) – are the same ones calling US financiers negligent
    pffffft

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  42. reid (16,453 comments) says:

    .

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  43. reid (16,453 comments) says:

    Cullen is not a fool. He knew what he was buying and what he would be paying for it. As Buffet says in his annual report (worth reading), price is what you pay, value is what you get.

    If you agree with the proposition that a Finance Minister with nine years experience, with access to some of the best financial analysts, strategists and number crunchers in the business, is unlikely to be a fool, then you’re left with only one conclusion.

    He did it for ideological reasons.

    This guy was prepared to send the taxpayer down the river for ideological reasons, knowing that this financial burden would fall upon us.

    Furthermore, this guy must have known when he bought it, the full magnitude of what is hitting us now. He has access to all overseas data and he knew exactly what was happening in the US, the UK, Europe, China and all the major markets. If you could not forecast what is happening now back then with all that data then you’re a fucking moron.

    Point in case. Philu says he’s known about it since 2006. Now d’ya think Cullen’s dumber than Philu?

    So he deliberately dropped us in the shit, for what?

    Ideology. Nothing less, nothing more….

    Once again both DPF and Whaleoil were onto it from day the purchase was announced.

    Thank fuck for bloggers.

    But just once, just fucking once, I’d like to see the media grab this prick, shove him against the wall (figuratively speaking of course) and ask him what the fuck he was thinking about when he made this choice.

    I’d also like to see him lose his pension because of this. He deserves to.

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  44. reid (16,453 comments) says:

    Cullen is not a fool. He knew what he was buying and what he would be paying for it. As Buffet says in his annual report (worth reading), price is what you pay, value is what you get.

    If you agree with the proposition that a Finance Minister with nine years experience, with access to some of the best financial analysts, strategists and number crunchers in the business, is unlikely to be a fool, then you’re left with only one conclusion.

    He did it for ideological reasons.

    This guy was prepared to send the taxpayer down the river for ideological reasons, knowing that this financial burden would fall upon us.

    Furthermore, this guy must have known when he bought it, the full magnitude of what is hitting us now. He has access to all overseas data and he knew exactly what was happening in the US, the UK, Europe, China and all the major markets. If you could not forecast what is happening now back then with all that data then you’re a fucking moron.

    Point in case. Philu says he’s known about it since 2006. Now d’ya think Cullen’s dumber than Philu?

    So he deliberately dropped us in the shit, for what?

    Ideology. Nothing less, nothing more.

    Once again both DPF and Whaleoil were onto it from day the purchase was announced.

    Thank fuck for bloggers.

    But just once, just fucking once, I’d like to see the media grab this prick, shove him against the wall (figuratively speaking of course) and ask him what the fuck he was thinking about when he made this choice.

    I’d also like to see him lose his pension because of this. He deserves to.

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  45. reid (16,453 comments) says:

    Cullen is not a fool. He knew what he was buying and what he would be paying for it. As Buffet says, price is what you pay, value is what you get.

    If you agree with the proposition that a Finance Minister with nine years experience, with access to some of the best financial analysts, strategists and number crunchers in the business, is unlikely to be a fool, then you’re left with only one conclusion.

    He did it for ideological reasons.

    This guy was prepared to send the taxpayer down the river for ideological reasons, knowing that this financial burden would fall upon us.

    Furthermore, this guy must have known when he bought it, the full magnitude of what is hitting us now. He has access to all overseas data and he knew exactly what was happening in the US, the UK, Europe, China and all the major markets. If you could not forecast what is happening now back then with all that data then you’re a fucking moron.

    Point in case. Philu says he’s known about it since 2006. Now d’ya think Cullen’s dumber than Philu?

    So he deliberately dropped us in the shit, for what?

    Ideology. Nothing less, nothing more.

    Once again both DPF and Whaleoil were onto it from day the purchase was announced.

    Thank fuck for bloggers.

    But just once, just fucking once, I’d like to see the media grab this prick, shove him against the wall (figuratively speaking of course) and ask him what the fuck he was thinking about when he made this choice.

    I’d also like to see him lose his pension because of this. He deserves to.

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  46. Ratbiter (1,265 comments) says:

    What ideology are we talking about here?

    (1) There are good technological/infrastructure reasons for having a railway system as I indicated at 9:53pm.

    (2) It is obvious from the gross run-down of Tranz rail during the 1990s (deferred maintenance of machinery and track work, c.f. at least one major – preventable – accident with a freight train derailling through the Manawatu Gorge and stuffing up the network for days, that the private owners were not willing or not able to continue to operate all of the pre-existing services while returning the profits they required.

    (3) Now, either the private owners are just evil bastards who wanted to run down the long-established NZ railway system for the hell of it (which I don’t believe) or else this happened because it’s simply not possible to operate the system with the returns they expected. But we appear to need the system as per (1), so state ownership seems to me like one feasible way of avoiding the clash of (1) and (2) that is inevitable if (1) and (2) are both true and we have private ownership.

    Dare I say it, but I expect most political leaders to have some sort of ideological motivation. Why else would they become active in one party and not another? I would humbly suggest that (3) might be a more reasonable explanation of Cullen’s ideology than “He is an evil bastard bent on destruction of our country”…

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  47. Glutaemus Maximus (2,207 comments) says:

    Hear hear.

    That motion is seconded.

    The weird thing is that the pond life from the Standard still support the deal as being worthy and correct.

    Fucking easy when it isn’t your money, and you have a total disdain for the productive citizens.

    When all you care about is ideology, and screwing the system.

    Cullen, you are a total wanker.

    Klark is a dinosaur, and what you did to Brash was unforgiveable.

    Shame on you when your own private life was even more complicated, and frankly seedy!

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  48. Ratbiter (1,265 comments) says:

    PS: But I fully acknowledge that “Evil Bastard” hypotheses are very popular on Kiwiblog comments threads!

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  49. reid (16,453 comments) says:

    It is obvious from the gross run-down of Tranz rail during the 1990s (deferred maintenance of machinery and track work, c.f. at least one major – preventable – accident with a freight train derailling through the Manawatu Gorge and stuffing up the network for days, that the private owners were not willing or not able to continue to operate all of the pre-existing services while returning the profits they required.

    (3) Now, either the private owners are just evil bastards

    Fucking D’oh, ratbiter. The private owners you refer to are Fay and Richwhite who are the biggest traitorous scumbags who have unfortunately walked our shores for the very long time. They were and are total ….

    I’m glad they fucked off to Switzerland and if I had my way they’d get their citizenship revoked, Fay’s Knighthood revoked, and I’d institute criminal proceedings against them for the Winebox crimes.

    Bad apples.

    Doesn’t mean every apple is bad.

    Point is, ratbiter you fucking dick, we’d sold it.

    It WAS someone else’s problem, until Hulun and Cullen once again for no apparent fiscally sound reason, made it OURS, once again. Repeat, for NO APPARENT REASON.

    Still support them, d’ya?

    Never did really understand ecunumics did ya, you fucked in the head lefty twat fuck.

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  50. Ratbiter (1,265 comments) says:

    “…ratbiter you fucking dick…”
    “…you fucked in the head lefty twat fuck.”

    Why are you getting shitty with me Reid?

    I have attempted to put forward another possible reason why Cullen might have felt motivated to buy the railways back, beyond “Cullen must just be an evil bastard” which is about where everyone else has ended up.

    You will notice that I have not attempted to justify the price Cullen paid. You might like to think about why this is. Or you might just like to swear and curse some more, it seems to be what you do when you want respect.

    My 4 year old gets all grumpy and abusive when it’s past her bedtime, too. I didn’t expect to be confronted with the same mentality here.

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  51. Patrick Starr (3,674 comments) says:

    “I didn’t expect to be confronted with the same mentality here.”…………. I cant see anyone holding you here?

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  52. peterwn (3,271 comments) says:

    Well at least the major cost component of John Key’s proposed cycle track has now been paid for. North Cape to Okaihau (or Otiria) is the only remaining piece to procure.

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  53. Ratbiter (1,265 comments) says:

    Thank you Patrick for your insightful contribution!

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  54. slijmbal (1,236 comments) says:

    Patrick – I’m trying to guage the definition of offensive – I called Cullen an evil little s**t, Ratbiter just called him an evil bastard – reid called him a prick – all pretty aggressive (and deserved) descriptions – offensive seems a slippery definition but one mention of a whittler? Something doesn’t feel right here.

    Ratbiter – Toll ran the assets down in value – open secret – in an attempt to do the usual strip income job of a monopoly asset. Rail is not unlike a car in that proper preventative maintenance is much cheaper than waiting untill something breaks – Toll tended towards the latter. Mind you they did get to buy a lemon – via Fay and his mates if I recall correctly who had done an even better job of running down the asset prior to listing it – typical Fay Richwhite approach – I’m a capitalist but those guys leave a bad taste in the mouth.

    Toll are happy as they now have the profitable trucking part of the original business and have sold off the delerict bits to someone who may not be compared with a whittler at > 3 times the price they paid for it. It really does look like Cullen bought it almost out of spite – it was such a bad purchase – let them go under and then buy at firesale prices.

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  55. Patrick Starr (3,674 comments) says:

    biter – ya welcum

    slijmbal – i dont think its Cullen that DPF is worrying of offending

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  56. slijmbal (1,236 comments) says:

    Patrick – I was insulting Cullen – there is a logic gap here unless the historical german atrocities are more important than others – would I have been pinged for a Mugabe reference?

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  57. reid (16,453 comments) says:

    “Why are you getting shitty with me Reid? ”

    My apologies, ratbiter, my previous was a less than useful post. My apologies.

    Do we need a rail infrastructure?

    Yes.

    Does it need to be paid for by the state?

    Maybe.

    But as soon as you get state ownership, all sorts of interest groups and local communities surface and say ‘why not me?’ [to be serviced] or ‘why me’ [to be closed].

    Private ownership removes that pressure, in that, it’s a commercial decision.

    And why shouldn’t it be just that?

    Given that, we’d always have access to the commercially viable lines, it’s just that high-cost low-usage services would cause political issues. But why should those continue?

    Just to let people travel on lines that make no profit? Why does public service need to come into the equation?

    Because we built it?

    We built a national network because it was useful and well patronised at that time. Roads were poor. Those times have passed.

    So what is the argument for continuing with a certain service that doesn’t make a profit?

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  58. NX (504 comments) says:

    Poor Dr Cullen to have his last moments in parliament spoiled by all those chickens which have come home to roost.

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  59. hayek (81 comments) says:

    >>reid>>we’d always have access to the commercially viable lines

    The legacy of the mismanaged privatisation was that one company had an effective monopoly over rail transport because they had exclusive rights to the tracks. The original privatisation should have broken it up into units analogous to the electricity industry (without emulating those sorts of flaws). The reason that Cullen deemed it acceptable to pay such a high price to toll seems to be also factoring in a (perhaps unacceptably large) premium to break Toll’s exclusive rights to use the tracks. Ultimately it is fallacious to suggest that Cullen Paid 2.2 B for 400 and something M worth of assets: they paid 690 M for 400 and something M worth of assets plus the intangible value of (potentially breaking) monopoly of rail operation in NZ. He paid perhaps a 40% premium (not unheard of in private sector either) because he saw an opportunity to make a huge structural change in the way NZ transport works. The extra costs that are referred to by David Farrar increase the value of the asset if spent correctly, and so do not weigh on the judiciousness of the original purchase.

    Like it or not, NZ primary producers are facing increasing pressure to conform to real or imaginary environmental standards. It could be argued that the cost of infrastructure to bring about the neccessary efficiencies to satisfy hypocritical EU and US shoppers would be best achieved by central government. But the actual operation of services on this infrastructure could certainly be delivered privately as well as publicly.

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  60. Komata (1,191 comments) says:

    FWIW, as one who was involved at the time, the folowing might be of interest:

    ‘So what is the argument for continuing with a certain service that doesn’t make a profit’

    Those with long memories will recall that, prior to his appointment as (Labour) Minister of Railways, a certain Mr R Prebble was wondering around the countryside loudly trumpetting that railways were forever and that that when HE was minister, there would be new equipment and everything was going to be so wonderful. It was a good votre catcher and very persuasive.

    We all know that Mr Prebble subsequently discovered new-right Kensyan philosophies along with his mate Rodger Douglas and that the trains were sold off at less than fire-sale rates to his suddenly-discovered mates at Faye, Richwhite and co – supposedly because the system hasd never actually made money for its owners (the people of New Zealand) and as a result, because it was obviously very inefficient had to be got rid of.

    In fact the opposite was true! (Surprised?).

    As government Departments, the NZ Railways Department and its immediate successor NZ Railways Ltd were not expected to make aprofit – that had never been the intention from day one – Government departments were never intended to do so – they were there to provide a service and were actually expected to loose money – it weas the nature of the system.

    If at the end ot the financial year, there was some unspent money left over then that was good – and would be reflected in a reduced amount being allocated for the next FY. (But you know all that already don’t you?).

    In the 3-4 years immediately PRIOR to mr Prebble’s appointment as minister, the NZR had actually MADE money – not very much admitedly, but money none-the less, and largely as a result of prudent stewardship by NZR management – the Accounts Department was always very very observant.

    However, this did not bring a smile to the eyes of the New Mininster, who having switched sides (aka as ‘Jumping Ship’ or ‘Turncoating’ ) and having discovered that trucks and the road transport industry gave so much better meals and lovely rides in their big multi-wheeled jugganaughts than nasty old trains, decreed that he ‘did not wish to know that’ (that railways were actually very efficient AND were capable of making money in direct competition with the truckies) and started the process of disposal.

    There is also the possibility that ‘contributions’ were made in certain directions to ‘help’ him to think . . .

    Political expediency (and a few cab rides in nice shiney trucks thoughtfully provided by the Road transport Industry) took priority of economic reality and efficiency – and resulted in the destruction of what was, at the time probably one of the most eficient railway systems in the world, with the fact that 22,000 extremely skilled staff were suddenly without jobs, and that there was no thought given to retraining them, being shrugged off as ‘collateral damage’ and ‘not my problem’.

    All of which is by way of saying that yes, railways in New Zealand CAN make aprofit – as long as it is politically expedient to allow them to do so!!

    ‘We built a national network because it was useful and well patronised at that time. Roads were poor. Those times have passed’.

    I have to disagree with the last part of this statement, and would return to the last sentence of my previous topic. Political expediency, and the (then) governments wholesale infatuation with the road transport industry opened teh gates to a huge invasion of very large, very heavy trucks into theis country. Vehicles that were totally unnecessary and which have of course caused all sorts of damage to theis country in respect of roads and people (and yes, the RTA wantsd to bring in MORE and BIGGER trucks to increase the problem).

    Rail is actually still very efficient and you can tow a lot more wagons for the same horsepower than is possible for a truck. it also pollutes less, dosen’t cause damage to its infrastructure and is not a major cause of accidents – things which of course the RTA, with its foot now firmly in the Government’s door does not wish you to know about (after all they have to look after their members – the ‘truckies’) – they stand to loose too much.

    The ideal situation would be for the trucks to ‘feed into’ the trains, and at the other end take goods away from them for distribution, but sadly this isn’t going to happen any time soon and the status quo will remain – trucks in direct competioin with rail, duplicating its capabilities and destroying the roads.Until some government is brave enough to decide otherwise and think environmentally rather than politically, things will not be changing.

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  61. Patrick Starr (3,674 comments) says:

    Komata Its so good to know that $2.2bil was so wisely invested in preventing global warming. If it was such a viable proposition why did Toll need so desperately to get out – and why did Cullen not even have so much a business plan?

    Consider this – do you think Labour would have purchased the thing if they had been polling at over 50%?

    Slijmbal- I’m only guessing but heres a clue – Tariana Turia’s “holocaust” comparison speech

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  62. Razork (375 comments) says:

    I was lucky enough to have a wander around the United rail workshops (the old railway yards) in Petone not long after the Kiwi rail deal went through.
    The staff of that business are the big winners here.

    Some of the asset register defies comprehension.
    I saw 60 year old train engines that had been dug up out of a swamp where they had been sitting for over 15 years that were included in the deal. They are being rebuilt and will service the Ngauranga gorge line.
    I saw old wooden carriages that are being totally reconstructed from tip to toe; estimate 70 years old!

    I was stunned to say the least and while the fact that the train set is old has been reported; just how old hasn’t been.

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  63. Bok (740 comments) says:

    With due repect to our host, he is only human, and those demerits to slijmbal proves that. DPF you are bigger than this sort of politically correct crap. As others pointed out here, Stalin, Mugabe and others were far worse than Hitler, And how is calling some-one like another, worse than calling them chinless scarf wearers? I say fuck, my 85 year old mum would not dream of saying damn.

    And as has been pointed out, you did not even read his post properly before you so “gallantly proved your even handedness” Come on mate, I am happy to accept the demerits on his behalf (mind you if that is the PC level this blog is heading towards, chuck another 80 on top)

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  64. Brian Smaller (4,023 comments) says:

    Toll didn’t spend any money on infrastrcuture because they knew they had a guy with an open cheque book who wanted to buy their railway at any price, and by a specific time – before the 2008 election. Would you spend money when you knew that? No-one would. Toll were smart whereas Cullen was an idealogue who has lumbered taxpayers with even more debt at a time when we cannot afford it.

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  65. David Farrar (1,894 comments) says:

    My blog, my rules. And yes comparing people to Hitler is worse than calling people chinless scarf wearers.

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  66. Murray (8,847 comments) says:

    Its not only offensive to compare people to Hitler (which he didn’t do) its bloody offensive to behave is way that makes you comparable to Hitler (or his side kick Gorbels).

    Have big cup of precious princess for breakfast did David. Heading a bit in anational socialist direction yourself.

    I’ll just give as much of a crap about your demerits system as I always do and say you were wrong to give any to slijmbal. You all can dance around with all due respecting and our host this and that. His site his rules but I speak my mind.

    I’ve always been of the mind that thats how free speech works. Evidently thats just me.

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  67. OECD rank 22 kiwi (2,752 comments) says:

    reid says at 10:08 pm:

    Cullen is not a fool.

    Yes he is. More accurately he is a SILLY OLD MAN.

    Time to put him out to pasture.

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  68. NX (504 comments) says:

    Glutaemus Maximus wrote:

    Klark is a dinosaur, and what you did to Brash was unforgiveable.

    Agreed. It was over two years ago now and it still annoys me.

    Hager, Clark, taxpayer funded plays, compromised police investigates ……………… thank god for the new government!

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  69. James (1,338 comments) says:

    Hmmmmm yes DPF has become something of a pansy pants it would appear…..dribbling over Jeanette buggering off,the Hitler hysteria…..Whale Oil and Cactus have commented on this disturbing retreat to wetness and lefty lightness as well……

    man up DPF! ;-)

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  70. James (1,338 comments) says:

    On Failrail…..Liberty Scott shoots down some of the previous pro rail fans points here…

    ” No future for rail freight?

    I’ll give credit to the Green Party Frogblog for the post “The End of Kiwirail?” which shows that someone from the party at least went to hear David Heatley from the NZ Institute for the Study of Competition and Regulation talk about”The Future of Rail in New Zealand”. That presentation is now on Powerpoint here.

    It is well worth a read.

    The presentation addresses some simple myths about rail:
    1. Rail network shrinked due to privatisation. Wrong. Almost all line closures were under state ownership when rail had a statutory monopoly on long haul freight!
    2. Rail stopped being viable after free market reforms. Wrong, it stopped being consistently financially viable by 1945. It short pockets of profitability since then.
    3. Track Maintenance was run down after privatisation. Wrong, it was already being run down in public ownership, track was run down more, but sleeper replacement under private ownership increased.
    4. Rail is worth a lot as an asset. Wrong. The NZ$12 billion book value of rail on the Treasury accounts is a nonsense, equating it to all other SOEs combined (e.g. 3 power companies, Transpower, NZ Post) which all make profits. Most of the value is based on a replacement cost if it was built today, which of course would never be done. I’d argue it is probably worth 4% of that at best.
    5. Rail only needed rescuing after privatisation. Wrong. It has been rescued several times before, then the commercialisation was reversed because of political pressure. It has long had serious economic viability issues.
    6. Rail is good to reduce accidents, congestion and environmental problems Wrong. “the optimal level of externalities is not zero – at some point it becomes more expensive to lower them than the welfare created by their further abatement” Rail related deaths only slightly lower than truck related. No evidence that it reduces congestion. Sea freight is twice as fuel efficient than rail, but little interest in that.

    Like I said before, the presentation basically says that rail is not as fuel efficient as is quoted, and that only 30% of the current network handles 70% of the freight. It suggests concentrating on the main trunk, and lines to the Bay of Plenty and the West Coast.”

    Rail in NZ is a loss making pig…always has been…..and to suggest that rail should just “be”… without requiring a profitable return is retarded nonsense….lets have a space program and a nuclear powered carrier fleet too by that rationall..

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  71. getstaffed (9,186 comments) says:

    The $2.2b figure makes me sick. This would pay for 74,000 heart bypass operations.

    Cullen is obscene. It’s unfair to compare him with a certain former fascist dictator. Unfair on the dictator that is.

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  72. Komata (1,191 comments) says:

    Patrick Starr

    An interesting question. IMHO, probably not – they did after all have NINE years to do something about it and didn’t. it was politically expedient to re-nationalise the organisation and I would doubt that ideaology came into it. somehow ‘workers rail for the workers’ has a certain hollow ring to it.

    James

    Thank you for the article and opinion – it has a certain familiarity about it (and NO, I’m not a Greenie!!) with most of what is stated in it having been well stated (overstated) before.

    I would dispute several of the points that teh article makes however:

    1. Branch line closures. Agreed, there were some which were uneconomic almost from Day One (the Mt. Egmont Branch comes to mind), but there were also a lot odf closures that were as a result of rising pressure from certain ‘special interest’ groups who ‘leaned on their MPs, as well as being victims of the prevailing policical mantra’s. Interestingly, many closures took place very soon after Dr. Beeching hasd set the standard in the UK, by weilding his infamous ‘Beeching’s Axe’ and closing branch lines in large quantities.

    2. As noted previously, Government Departments WEREN’T supposed to make money – they were there to serve. it was only with the advent of Douglas and Co that the need for government Depts to MAKE money (aka a Profit) became all important to the point of obsession (a concept that I actually find to be an oxymoron). Given my opening sentence, of course profit was intermittent. the wonder was that it was made at all. hindsight is a wonderful thing, and i wonder where these people were at the time abnd if THEY ever stood up and barked about teh need for Govt. Deparments to make a profit etc. Somehow I cannot see that they did.

    3. Track maintenence run down. Agreed, BUT with the very specific qualification that from about 1980 track maintenance was being run down BECAUSE THE POLITICAL MASTERS OF THE TIME DECREED THAT IT WAS TO BE SO!!
    I say this very specifically, because practical and personal expereince indicates that it is impossible to get trains running at speeds of up to 70 MPH (120-125 Km/h) on poor track – especially on 1067mm gauge. Been there, done that!! The physics simply don’t allow it to happen!. The importation of track maintenence materials was ‘restricted’ in various ways and for all sorts of reasons as a result of various ‘directives’ received from ‘on high’ so of course the maintenence programme suffered.

    4.Rail as an asset. It depends on ones viewpoint – and whether or not you view road transport as an asset or a liability in respect of the damage it causes. Different strokes for different folks.

    5. Although I know my NZ railway history and i’ve checked back before wiring this I can’t say I’m aware of ‘previous attempts to commercialise rail in NZ’ . Can you (they) provide specific examples please?

    6. No evidence thast it reduces congestion? Are comparing apples with apples here? Having seen the congestion on quay Street in Auckland, when Container Trucks try to get into the terminal and having equally seen 40-50 wagon trains trundle into and out of the same terminal I have a problem with the comparison. can you eleborate please? Exactly what do you mean? And also for the road/rail death comparison – figures, scources please?

    Not fuel-efficient? interesting – and flying in the face of international evidence to the contrary, but not too surprising – its all been said before by those who, foe whatwever reasons don’t particularly like rail. The Green party’s stand doesn’t surprise me very much and says a lot about their politics and a lot about their environmental views as well – after all, why let facts get in the way of a perfectly good beat up?

    But thanks for the article.

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  73. James (1,338 comments) says:

    Komata….read this piece by Owen Mc Shane from 2006….

    “It is Time to open the “Main Truck Line”

    ….”New Zealanders are getting anxious about the ongoing closure of freight lines in the regions.

    We shouldn’t be.

    Instead we should be welcoming this opportunity to upgrade our transport system to make road travel easier and safer for us all.

    We should get the trains off these rail beds, tear up the tracks and lay down a road bed dedicated to trucks – and express buses if need be.

    This is such a logical and cost-effective move you would think it would have been done long ago. But the idea is always challenged by those who believe our transport solutions lie with nineteenth century technology rather than the advanced technology waiting in the wings.

    Certainly, the rail operators in the UK were outraged by the report by Paul Withrington, “Reigniting the Railway Conversion Debate” published by the UK Institute of Economic Affairs, in June 2004. The abstract reads:

    Quote:
    The economic functions of railways could be carried out by express coaches and lorries at one-quarter the cost of the train, using 20 – 25% less fuel, requiring one-quarter to one-third of the land, and imposing a casualty cost on passengers half that suffered by rail passengers. The railway conversion debate was initiated in the 1950s by the late Brigadier Lloyd and carried forward by the Railway Conversion League, subsequently renamed the Railway Conversion Campaign, until the death of its chairman, Angus Dalgleish, in 1994. The purpose of this
    paper is to reignite that debate. The government should remove all impediments to the conversion of railways to roads.

    The UK railroaders should know better than to reject such findings out of hand – because good managers should be asking these kinds of questions, and examining these kinds of strategies, all the time. Sue Kedgley deplores closing these rail lines because, she asks, “Hasn’t the government heard of climate change?” Well, the UK study finds that
    the trucks use 25% per cent fuel than the trains, and this efficiency improves by the day. Trains are only kept on the rails by their weight – everything is heavy and weight needs fuel. So “steel on rail” is doomed to become less efficient than “rubber on road” with every passing day.

    Some tunnels may need widening and some bridges may need modifying. Some tunnels can be controlled by traffic lights. Hardly any of the actual rail corridors will need widening and the adjoining land is normally farmland and hence quite cheap. Any costs can be financed out of tolls, and the savings on reduced upgrading of our regional highways will be massive. The Government as owner of the corridors could actually make some money instead of everyone operating at a loss.

    My analysis of the emerging transport technology suggests
    “rubber-on-road” will almost certainly totally displace “steel-on-rail” from all rail beds, just as gas turbines displaced pistons in aircraft.

    While the efficiency gains would be immediate the next generation of trucks will “drive by wire” on these converted “rail corridors”.

    The driver’s hands and legs will instruct the computer which will instruct the drive train and the hydraulic power systems. A guide-wire down the centre of the newly constructed road-bed, laid over our present railway lines, will allow the computerised steering system to keep the truck “on-line”. Truck drivers will drive their trucks to the shunting yard where they will leave them and drive away on an incoming truck to deliver its local load. These trucks will be mechanically and electronically connected into “truck-trains” driven by only one “driver” in the front cab, monitoring the performance of every truck in
    the train. At the next “station”, trucks will peel off to be driven away, again by local drivers, to their local destination. The savings in labour costs will be immense.

    The coupled trucks will reduce drag. Accident rates will decline.

    Drivers will never drive far from home. Lots of short trips will replace lots of long ones.

    Hardly any trucks would drive on the regular roads which would then require much less maintenance and be much safer for everyone. Tourists in particular will be much happier.

    The AA Advocate (Winter 2006) foresees massive on-road conflicts between huge numbers of logging trucks, milk trucks and foreign tourists. By 2030 the AA suggests every other drive on the road could be a foreign visitor.

    Sadly, it appears the current operators of the steel-on-rail trains won’t make the switch because, like the vacuum tube manufacturers of the fifties who failed to switch to transistors, they are committed to running their hardware rather than providing a service.

    So when the first “truck train” calls into your local station it will be operated by a company with a name like Freightways or DSL. And a bundle of companies with names like X-track and Y-rail will disappear from corporate memory.”

    Good debate here…

    http://blog.greens.org.nz/2009/02/19/the-end-of-kiwirail/

    There are oppossing voices to this of course but worth reading…

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  74. slijmbal (1,236 comments) says:

    Didn’t realise I would cause such response with my reference to the side kick of the leader of the National German Socialist Workers Party – having to work hard to vary the references so as not to hit the trigger and I think trigger is the operative word here – it really does not feel logical.

    I struggle to understand this when we have had death squads in South American countries, genocides as a bit of trend in Africa and a superbly racist country in our African exemplar South Africa .. the list is long – why one reference has preference over others I do not understand?

    FYI – born and bred in a city bombed to hell during WWII – used to play in ruins of houses – grandfather had to change his surname as originally from Austria – father in law risked death for stealing food in Holland as a child – family had to move to avoid the blitzkrieg – but I quite like Germans (despite their humourectomy at birth) – but I also realise that the English invented concentration camps during the Boer war – the Americans used to scalp the Indians not the other way around – the Spanish weren’t bad at genocide in their colonies (you did want to be colonised by the British rather than the Spanish – they were less malevolent) – the Australians used to hunt Tasmanian aborigines as there was no game ………..

    So I’ll have to compare people to Indian scalping Yanks – that’s better ………. well – it’s safer :)

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  75. Bok (740 comments) says:

    Sorry DPF but want to take you on in this one. Yes it is your blog and your rules, and if you had left it at that I would have accepted that, but stating categorically that calling some-one one thing is worse than another is bullshit. It is simply your opinion and you have nothing to measure it against. What the amount of people a dictator has killed? maybe the ethnicity? Or is it just that you blindly follow what others say. “Hitler was the epitome of evil/…” No he was just another madman. Pol Pot, Pappa Doc, Che and Castro, Saddam and Mugabe, Some of those killed more and in worse and more painful ways than Hitler ever did. So how are you measuring how bad something is? If you called a Nationalist Hitler he would probably feel honored , while if you called him a jew he would be very offended. If yu suggested a Christian might be gay they would be very upset, while others are proud of their labels. I have seen people nearly kill themselves after being called chubby while all my mates call me fat bastard and i’m fine with that name.

    So by all means say “I find it offensive and it is my blog” and I’ll agree, but dont make hardline statements that it “is” worse.

    [DPF: Actually I think you can argue Hitler's brand of evil was unique. But to save the debate "I find it offensive and it is my blog".]

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  76. Bok (740 comments) says:

    And back on topic. There is only one of two explanations. Criminal stupidity or criminal connivance . The amount of money friends of ours have spend on treatments overseas while w were living in NZ was staggering. And they could afford it. The cynical wastage of money that those who need support could have used cannot and must not be excused. If I did a similar thing in business and the company was liquidated, then I could and should face criminal charges. So should Cullen.

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  77. slijmbal (1,236 comments) says:

    [DPF: Actually I think you can argue Hitler's brand of evil was unique. But to save the debate "I find it offensive and it is my blog".]

    Shows a limited understanding of the extent of evil that’s out there – but I think you’re right – it’s been done to death – your ball and you’ll take it home if you don’t like the game.

    You might want to post a list of things (or type of things) you find offensive then – save us guessing.

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  78. Bok (740 comments) says:

    Now after giving DPF a few serves (quite a few of us) because we dont agree, one has to say it is fantastic to be able to do so. To have a host that while not backing down, still allows others to criticize and even attack him without shutting them down is something the Standard and other lefty blogs could (but probably would’nt ) learn from

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  79. slijmbal (1,236 comments) says:

    Actually David I sort of agree with Bok – you’ve been arbitrary and refused to respond to reasoned discussion on the matter but do score highly on the “not taking personal umbrage on the matter” – as Bok says god help you if you get on the wrong side of blog masters in many other blogs – logic is an optional extra – I just don’t think you’ve lived up to your professed position in terms of being a classical liberal.

    I’ve got to stop responding to this stuff but I’m addicted to pointing out contradictions. My obesssion.

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  80. slijmbal (1,236 comments) says:

    Meant to add – tell me when you’re up in Auckland and I’ll buy your a beer and bend your ear why you’re wrong. I’m sure you’ll be graceful about it when you realise I’m right :)

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