Editorials 7 April 2010

The Herald weighs up large trucks on roads:

According to the Ministry of Transport, trucks carrying heavier loads on our roads “will help to improve , while reducing road congestion, operating costs and vehicle emissions”.

The statement is a highly contrary one to critics of the move, who foresee only an increased threat to safety. They are apt to point out that trucks are involved in 16 per cent of all road fatalities despite comprising only 4 per cent of the vehicle fleet.

The MOT rationale is I presume that it is safer to have a fewer number of heavier trucks on the road, than a larger number of lighter trucks.

Allowing trucks to carry loads of up to 53 tonnes – an increase from the present limit of 44 tonnes – from next month can only, they say, make matters worse.

Basic physics supports their view. Heavier trucks will take longer to stop, thereby creating heightened danger for any motorist caught in their path.

That individual truck may be more dangerous, but it does not mean the trucking fleet as a whole will be more dangerous.

But physics are not uppermost in the ministry’s mind when it talks of safety. It hangs its hat on the productivity equation – that a given amount of freight will be carried on fewer trucks.

Safer roads, it says, will be the product of an estimated 20 per cent decrease in the number of trips by trucks, as will be an increase of productivity of between 10 and 20 per cent.

I’d rather have fewer trucks on the road, even if they are heavier.

The Dom Post looks at Auckland Mayors today:

Aucklanders sometimes wonder why the rest of the country rolls its eyes when contemplating shenanigans in the City of Sails.

Sunday newspaper reports about the behaviour of North Shore Mayor illustrate why. He has been accused of public drunkenness, urinating in a public place and driving the mayoral car after he had been drinking one night. …

The mayor has built for himself a reputation of volatility and irascibility, particularly when his will is crossed. Still, he won’t be North Shore mayor after October.

I suspect many North Shore residents are counting down the days.

Mr Williams says he will run for the super-city but won’t say if he’ll contest the mayoralty – probably the second-most-important political position in the country. If he does, he is unlikely to win. New Zealand might love its iconoclasts, but this job is too important to entrust to someone of his ilk.

Little risk there I would say.

The Press calls for trading reform:

If there is one area of the law which is crying out for a thorough re-examination it is the Easter shop trading restrictions.

Once again over the past long weekend Labour Department inspectors were out and about, attempting to enforce a hotchpotch trading regime which is riddled with inconsistencies. …

Then there is the view that with liberal retailing hours at other times of the year it is not too much to reserve Good Friday and Easter Sunday as, generally, shopping-free days, along with Christmas Day and Anzac Day before 1pm.

Yet loosening the restrictions on Easter Sunday or even Good Friday would not compel New Zealanders to head to the cash register. Those who choose, instead, to spend time with family could still do so.

Provided there are safeguards to ensure that reluctant employees could not be coerced into working, then it is high time that the traditional justifications for trading restrictions be scrutinised to determine whether they remain relevant.

Absoultely. And once the change had been made, everyone will wonder why we didn’t do it years ago – just like weekend shopping.

The ODT focuses on the military:

While the air force’s lack of strike-force capability remains a joke, significant expense and effort has gone towards better equipping the navy and army – only for poor judgements and decision-making to undermine much of the progress. …

HMNZS Canterbury, the multi-role ship in this little fleet, had so many defects that manufacturer BAE Systems paid the Government $84.6 million to repair them.

A scathing independent review last year said the ship’s poor performance in high seas would now just have to be accepted. …

How disappointing that one of the army’s latest purchases did its best to outdo the worst of the navy’s larks.

The army spent $590,000 on bullets that were unfit for use in the army’s guns, and had to resell the ammunition for $350,000.

Not to be outdone in magnitude of waste, the army’s light operational vehicles were 63 months late, cost $37 million more than planned and had a string of difficulties.

Now the Government is looking at selling 35 of the 105 because it believes too many were bought.

It was obvious from the beginning we have too many LAVs.

My personal view is that without a strike capability, there is no reason to maintain the RNZAF as a separate service, and our remaining planes and choppers should be integrated into the Army and Navy.

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