Editorials 15 February 2010

The NZ Herald talks city transport:

Unlike the present agency, the Auckland Regional Transport Authority, the new body will not be responsible for public transport alone, it will also take charge of roading from local councils. Thus it will oversee everything from the big picture to the small details of where to put footpaths and bus stops.

On the face of it, the idea of having one body co-ordinating the approach to all forms of transport in the city looks like a good thing. Unfortunately, there is a significant downside. As a council controlled organisation, Auckland Transport will not be obliged to hold public meetings or issue agendas and minutes except when making bylaws. Effectively, therefore, many of the decisions about things that directly affect ratepayers at a local level will be made in secrecy by remote officials. …

The best thing that can be said about the lack of transparency envisaged by the bill is that it is not yet set in stone. Mr Joyce acknowledged as much when he said the balance struck between administrative burden and transparency was a decision made by officials and further thought would be given to these aspects after submissions on the bill were heard.

This sounds very much like preparing the ground for some important changes. They will be most welcome if they favour more openness.

I expect the Select Committee will make changes.

The Dominion Post supports drug law reform:

The Government’s quick dismissal of the bulk of the Law Commission’s work on drug use in New Zealand is regrettable.

Its unpalatability for the Government – and, no doubt, for many others – comes in its recommendation for flexibility when dealing with small-scale dealing and personal possession for use, and for less emphasis on conviction and punishment. The flip side of that is a recommendation for a greater focus on treatment, prevention and education.

The current laws are hardly working. We have the highest use of cannabis in pretty much the western world.

The Press is enthused over electric vehicles:

The notion that petrol-driven vehicles are nearing the end of their domination of the road seems doubtful to many. They have become used to stories of geniuses with plans for water-propelled engines being done down by Big Oil, and with expectations from reputable scientists that alternative sources of unlimited energy were close to being harnessed. Scepticism about electric vehicles becoming a practical option is, therefore, understandable.

It is time for the end of those doubts. The world’s major car manufacturers are investing hugely in electric-motor research and development and have based their plans for survival on using the technology.

How about nuclear powered cars 🙂

The ODT welcomes back the scarfies:

In the wake of cruise-ship passengers crowding Dunedin streets comes the hubbub and display of an entirely different species of wild life: the university year is about to restart.

The influx of is already evident in shops, bars and restaurants, and the second-hand furniture traders from which yet another year’s batch of scarfie flats is furnished.

Once again the streets are alive with the sound of youthful excitement, bubbling with optimism, hungry for adventure.

The city is an altogether more vibrant place when, like the godwits, these scholars migrate south to continue their studies or begin a new chapter in their lives.

Having spent a summer in Dunedin, it is a lovely place when it is more tranquil, but there is nothing like the bustle of term time.

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