Editorials 15 February 2010

February 15th, 2010 at 9:21 am by David Farrar

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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5 Responses to “Editorials 15 February 2010”

  1. homepaddock (408 comments) says:

    “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.”

    Yes and in spite of what hits the news, most students are well behaved, study hard and manage to have fun without causing mayhem.

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  2. campit (467 comments) says:

    Effectively, therefore, many of the decisions about things that directly affect ratepayers at a local level will be made in secrecy by remote officials. …

    That’s the nub of it. This structure would effectively amount to taxation without representation. Given that Auckland Transport will be spending more than $1bn a year on transport, there needs to be some ratepayer representation.

    Also, under the current proposal, the initial Board is to be appointed by Steven Joyce and Rodney Hide, usurping the role of local democracy in appointing these roles.

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  3. Nick Kearney (1,259 comments) says:

    Campit, politicians should not be running transport businesses.

    Also, I think replacing one set of elected politicians appointing directors, with another set of elected politicians appointing directors is unnecessary.

    The problems with the new council appointing them are twofold: time and disinterest. It would take the new council months (and months) to find, scrutinise and then appoint. That would leave the new transport authority “in limbo”. Also, the directors need to be found now and hooked in for three years so that the new council gets to review their appointments before the 2013 local body elections.

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  4. campit (467 comments) says:

    Campit, politicians should not be running transport businesses.

    Transport infrastructure decisions are ultimately political. Objective benefit cost ratios are hard to come by. Britomart, electrification of rail, cruise ship terminals, Puhoi to Wellsford motorway, Waterview motorway – these types of projects have big budgets and all need signoff from politicians because its rate and taxpayers money we are talking about, and the social impacts on the voting public are huge.

    Its going to take months for the council to be up and running anyhow. Directors in Auckland Transport and the other CCOs are just some of the many positions that have to be filled. It is important that the composition of the Board reflects the wishes of the voting public of Auckland, not Wellington based MP’s.

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  5. jarbury (464 comments) says:

    What I don’t get is why the interim directors are being appointed for up to 3 years. Why can’t they be appointed until such a time as they are replaced by Auckland Council, which would be at Auckland Council’s discretion? So if Council wants to replace them on November 2nd 2010 they could, or if they wanted to wait a while longer, they could do that too.

    Really, what business is this of Steven Joyce’s?

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