Corporate welfare should not be secret

May 16th, 2016 at 6:24 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

More city councillors will be allowed to decide how Wellington’s $9.4 million economic fund is spent, but they won’t be able to tell ratepayers.

Councillors voted on Wednesday to increase the size of the panel that oversees its Wellington Economic Initiatives Development (WEID) Fund from four to nine members.

But they will be required sign a confidentiality agreement before they can join.

They are spending ratepayers money. There should be no secrecy around this. Sometimes there is a need for commercial confidentiality, if for example negotiating a supply agreement with competitors.

But this is giving away ratepayers money to businesses. If any business says “We’ll only take your money if you keep the amount secret”, then fine – don’t give any to them.

More corporate welfare wasted

April 12th, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Wellington City Council is chasing $50,000 it gave to organisers of Wellington Fashion Week, as the man in charge appears to elude efforts to track him down. 

Last year the event was cancelled just one week before it was meant to start, and this year it is not going ahead at all. 

The debacle comes just months after CallActive, a call centre to which the council gave $300,000 in 2013, folded leaving 60 Wellington-based staff without a job.

The Council’s track record is not looking too flash.

If they gave away less of our money, then our rates would not be increasing so much.

Looks like Eagle will be Deputy Mayor regardless of Mayor

March 5th, 2016 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

Even Paul Eagle can see the humour in his support of mayoral candidate Justin Lester after he had supported another candidate, Nicola Young, last year. 

Lester and Eagle, both Wellington City councillors, this week announced they would be standing on a joint Labour ticket as mayor and deputy mayor in the October local body elections.

It’s not Eagle’s first time at the joint ticket rodeo – last April he announced publicly he would back Young, despite her right-wing tendencies. 

He said the flip-flop wasn’t as bad as it might appear, but he could see the funny side. 

“At the time it was important to send a signal about change and there was no Labour candidate and no sign the party would stand a candidate,” he said. 

“In hindsight I should have gone to the party first.” 

Lester, 37, announced in December he would be running for mayor. He said he was not fazed by Eagle’s history and said Eagle was the best man to have by his side. 

“We love Wellington and we believe it’s time for fresh leadership,” he said. 

“We want a council that Wellingtonians have confidence in, one that clearly articulates its vision and has the skills to implement it.” 

Eagle, 44, said there was no bad blood between him and Young. 

“I still get along with her, which is important. 

“But when you belong to a political party you are part of that team.” 

He said he wouldn’t rule out being deputy mayor if Young was to be elected mayor and asked him. 

“That would be up to her.” 

Young said she wouldn’t rule it out either. 

“That’s a decision I will make once the votes are in,” she said. 

Young said Eagle remained a close colleague and friend. 

“Paul is a really good proactive councillor who I admire.” 

I’d say Paul will be Deputy Mayor regardless of who wins. Of course he really wants to be MP for Rongotai, and Annette wants him to be also. But now Little is Leader, they can’t stop him taking it.

A secret subsidy for Singapore Air

January 27th, 2016 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The leaking of details of a multi-million dollar subsidy for Singapore Airlines flights into Wellington has “undermined” Wellington City Council’s relationship with the airline, leaked emails claim.

In the days after Singapore Airlines and Wellington International Airport announced a new service linking the capital to Canberra and Singapore, documents emerged showing the council had agreed to subsidise the service.

While the document – a presentation given to councillors the day the flights were confirmed – gave only a basic outline of the agreement, it appears the council’s Destination Wellington Fund will contribute close to $9 a passenger, over 10 years.

If the service reaches projections of 90,000 passengers a year, a level at which the frequency of flights would likely have to be increased from four times a week to a daily service, the subsidy could cost around $800,000 a year, every year for a decade.

This is incredible. So ratepayers are basically giving up to $800,000 a year to one of the world’s largest companies. And most shamefully it was all done in secret.

Corporate welfare gone mad.

Lester announces for Mayoralty

December 3rd, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

Wellington’s mayoral team may be side-by-side for now, but they’ll come head to-head in next year’s local body elections. 

Deputy mayor Justin Lester has broken his poker face and announced he will stand for the mayoralty in the October elections. 

Lester, who will run on a Labour ticket, will be trying to oust his boss, mayor Celia Wade-Brown.

He said the pair had been discussing the issue for more than a year and that there would be no conflict in him remaining deputy mayor. 

“It’s important that one of us gets elected rather than someone else who doesn’t have a similar vision for the city,” he said.

“I’ll be focused on my campaign and she will be focused on hers. I won’t be criticising her.”

Wellington City has a single-transferable vote system, which allows voters to rank their preferences rather than vote for one person.

Lester and Wade-Brown said they would give each other their number two votes.

So will Lester have any policies that differ from Wade-Brown?

I look forward to all mayoral candidates spelling out their policies, and especially what they will do to bring spending under control.

Sense from a Green Councillor

November 3rd, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Green City Councillor David Lee writes:

As Wellington International Airport Limited (WIAL) prepares to lodge its application for resource consent for a runway extension, it’s important Wellingtonians are aware of the full facts – because, if the scheme goes ahead, a vast amount of ratepayers’ money will be pouring into it.

The plan has its supporters.

Wellington City Council (WCC) supports committing $90m towards the estimated $350m cost.

That $90 million would come from basically 75,000 households so is around $1,200 a household!!

As a resident, planner and Wellington City councillor, I am passionately committed to investment to promote a strong local economy and vibrant compact city – but it has to be the right kind of development.

As a professional planner – I spent 10 years as an airport and land-use planner with the Royal New Zealand Air Force and several years planning major road projects for New Zealand Transport Agency – I am seriously worried about this proposal.

Let’s look at the facts.

Undoubtedly the airport is a valuable strategic asset for the city and the region. Good air connectivity is essential for commerce, trade, resilience and social wellbeing.

But it is concerning that the private company that owns the airport is proposing to contribute just $40-$50m of the proposed costs. Other councils in the region have been asked to contribute $60m, so the residents of Hutt, Kapiti and the Wairarapa are contributing more than the private owner of the airport will.

This is key. We have an owner who is putting up just one seventh of the cost. They’re asking for the following:

  • Airport Owner $40 million
  • Wellington City ratepayers $90 million
  • Greater Wellington ratepayers $60 million
  • Taxpayers $160 million

Does that seem fair? To me it is more like corporate welfare.

Air New Zealand and none of the other 19 airlines BARNZ represents are interested in flying long-haul into Wellington. None of the economic benefits of a runway can be realised if no airline is prepared to use it. 

On that evidence, the airport would struggle to achieve much more than an infrequent service to a single destination in Asia – perhaps Southern China, hardly connectivity to a major hub. And the Council’s own analysis discounts the chance of North American links. . 

There is a real risk that $350m-plus could be spent, with huge cost to Wellington ratepayers, for a couple of flights to China a week.  

Not a single airline has said they’ll put extra flights on. At best we may get a couple of flights a week from Wellington to Guangzhou and return.

I am urging that before WCC invests any further money in this application, that an independent, rigorous and robust business case is completed and the community is given the opportunity to assess whether the promised ‘benefits’ stand up to scrutiny and this very considerable investment is warranted.

I’m open to persuasion if some airlines commit to a significant number of extra destinations due to an extended runway. But without that commitment, it is just corporate welfare and a “Build it and they will come” hope mentality.

Good to see a Councillor willing to show caution with this huge amount of money.

UPDATE: A response from Infratil that they posted to the wrong thread:

David Lee’s article in today’s Dominion Post and the commentary attached to quotes from the article in the whaleoil blog are a mixture of platitudes, inaccuracies and comments that can only cause concern about the writers’ credulity
Lets start with the inaccuracies.
At present the Airport and the City are jointly funding a review of the project. This will address the business case and seek consents.
Once this exercise is concluded the various parties that have been identified as potential capital providers (Airport, Council, Government) will be approached to provide the construction funding.
Does anyone in their right mind believe that sums like $300 million get invested without comprehensive due diligence and analysis?
As to how much funding will be sought from the likely providers, absolutely nothing has yet been identified. Initial construction cost estimates have arrived at $300 million, but this can only be provisional until consents are received and final design work completed. The Airport has indicated that it expects to contribute a sum to reflect the commercial value of the extra services/traffic generated by the extension. Amounts of $50-100 million have been mentioned as the likely range for this value, but until the business case is fully formed and modelled, no one knows. What is known now is that the figures and analysis will be public and transparent once they have been identified.
The assertion that the runway could be extended and then not used or only used to fly to somewhere obscure in China is counter to any logic. In the first place, there will be a substantial commercial investment in the project, an investment that could only pay off if the extension is actually used. Secondly all capital providers will have ample opportunity to reach their own conclusions on the “will they come?” issue. Third, perhaps the Councillor missed the presentation made last week on the topic of likely routes. The key point of the presentation from InterVistas (the world’s leading experts on airline route economics and demand) was that long-haul routes to Wellington will link Wellington to a hub; Singapore, KL, HK, LA, one of the Emirates. Another point in that presentation which seems to have been missed is that several routes appear viable to InterVistas.
Such gems of insightfulness provided as comments on the Councillor’s article “Good to see a Councillor willing to show caution with this huge amount of money” Hello? Really? What matters for Wellington is the quality of governance and oversight provided by its councillors. Caution is not a virtue on its own. This project is complex and the final decision will be based on a lot of information and analysis. As a ratepayer I’m not looking for caution so much as diligence, analytical capability and judgement.
The article quotes at length representatives of the current airline users of the Airport who are opposed to its extension. Ask yourself, is their opposition to the extension (and their funding of opposition initiatives) based on their generous concern about Wellington or a desire to limit competition?
This project is a long long away from its final form. It can only happen if it gets the backing of private and public capital providers. This is uncommon in New Zealand and clearly there is plenty of discomfort with the prospect of “socialise costs, privatise profits”. But for Wellington what matters is that the right decision is made.
That means investing if the investment has a strong case that it will generate community wealth and not to invest otherwise.
But the worst decision that can be made is to not invest when the project would have generate community wealth.
Saying “no” can be as wrong as or worse than saying “yes”, it depends on the facts, and at present no one has those facts.

WCC votes yes to online voting trial

September 17th, 2015 at 11:55 am by David Farrar

WCC have announced:

This morning Wellington City Council voted yes (7-6) to join an online voting trial for next year’s local body elections.

The Mayor of Wellington, Celia Wade-Brown, says Wellington City Council has shown it is progressive and willing to try online polling in the Smart Capital.

“The proposed pilot for the 2016 election will be a real time exercise with real candidates and a real result,” she says.

“We use online mechanisms as a way of increasing participation in many council processes, from Smokefree issues to our Long Term Plan, so it makes sense for us to participate in the online voting pilot.”

Deputy Mayor Justin Lester, who is also Chairperson for Council’s Governance, Finance and Planning Committee, says it’s all about increasing participation and creating better accessibility for all.

“Wellingtonians are the most tech savvy people in the country, so this city is perfect for this trial to take place. Four out of ten Wellingtonians voted in the last local body elections, so, if this trial means we can get those numbers up then I think it’s well worth exploring further.”

Very pleased to see Wellington join the trial – both because as a resident I’ll get to use it, but more importantly because you need at least one major council involved to make it economic.

Eight Councils have agreed to take part in the trial for next year’s local body elections – with a confirmation vote still needed to be taken by Dunedin City and Marlborough District Councils.

The government will then decide whether the trial will go ahead. That decision will be made by the end of the year.

I hope the Government doesn’t hinder or block the progress made.

Thanks to the Councillors who voted in favour – Mayor Celia Wade-Brown, Deputy Mayor Justin Lester, Jo Coughlan, David Lee, Mark Speck, Malcolm Sparrow and Nicola Young.

The two top rated Councillors standing as a ticket

April 13th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

One may be blue and the other red, but that’s not stopping two of Wellington’s most popular councillors from joining forces to run for mayor and deputy mayor in next year’s October election.

The match of Lambton ward councillor Nicola Young and Southern ward councillor Paul Eagle might seem unusual, but the two say they cover most bases – male and female, Maori and European, outer suburbs and inner city and left wing and right wing.

Young’s father, Bill, was a National Party Cabinet minister.

“Most of local government is not about left or right. It’s about getting stuff done,” she said.

“We’re both committed to Wellington and are looking for what’s good for all Wellingtonians.

“There is often a bit of a trade-off there, but it’s about fairness and being aspirational for the city.

The Wellingtonian’s panel rated Eagle and Young as the two best performing Councillors on the Wellington City Council. That puts them in good stead to be Mayor and Deputy Mayor.

The fact they are from different sides of the political spectrum can be a plus. Most of local government should not be about politics.

Eagle, who said his relationship with Young would not change his standing for Labour, said he had no desire to be mayor, but was happy to support Young and would be encouraging Wellington’s Labour voters to follow suit.

Only 18 months until the local elections.

Ratepayers hit up for $1.25 million for carnival

February 25th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Katie Chapman at Dom Post reports:

The Cuba St Carnival is back – but not as you know it.

Five years after funding woes ended the carnival, a new festival will be launched as one of two new events designed to bolster the capital’s events calendar.

As well as putting $250,000 towards a new Cuba St festival next year, the Wellington City Council is planning a New Year’s Eve celebration.

The announcement of the two events comes on the back of criticism that the council was not putting enough focus on boosting the city’s economy.

The last Cuba St Carnival was held in 2009, but the loss of council funding and spiralling costs saw the event canned in 2010. The Creative Capital Arts Trust was set up in 2011, with rejuvenating the event a key purpose.

Yesterday, the trust and the council confirmed a new festival would launch next year. The basic premise of an event celebrating Cuba St would stay the same, but the event would be different, trust chairman Tim Brown said.

The new annual event – called the Cuba St Festival for now – will run for two days in late March or early April.

The old carnival had become too big in both size and budget, Mr Brown said. The new event would cost about $500,000 for the first year.

I’m not against the ratepayers making a modest contribution to key events in Wellington. But $1.25 million over five years is a huge amount of money, and represents half the total cost of the festival. That’s too much.

The announcement comes after Kirkcaldie & Stains managing director John Milford’s criticism of the council last week for failing to help boost retail activity.

Mr Milford welcomed news of the two events yesterday, saying it was exactly what was needed to help bring vibrancy to the city.

If the event is to help retailers, should it not be funded from their rates, rather than everyone’s rates?

Wellington ratepayers face another $300,000

February 24th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

Wellington City Council is facing a budget blowout on its living wage policy, just two months after becoming the first council to adopt it.

Councillors voted 9-5 in December to adopt the living wage for its staff at a rate of $18.40 an hour. But Living Wage Aotearoa, the group that sets the rate, has now raised it to $18.80.

Andy Foster, who voted against the living wage in December, said the increase would lift the wage bill for the 400 staff directly employed by the council by $332,000 a year.

Forcing ratepayers to fund this.

But he warned that figure could blow out to as much as $5 million if it was extended to people working for council-controlled organisations and on council contracts, and if relativity adjustments were made for other staff.

If Employee A is on $15 an hour and Employee B on $19 an hour, and Employee A moves to $18.80 an hour then of course Employee B will want to be paid say $22 an hour to maintain the relativity as Employee B’s job is more skilled.

The latest rise highlighted his philosophical concern that the council had effectively handed control of staff pay-setting to an outside organisation.

But Family Centre social policy researcher Charles Waldegrave, of Lower Hutt, who calculated the figures for Living Wage Aotearoa, defended the latest adjustment saying that, if anything, it was on the low side.

Andy Foster hits the key point here. Those Councillors who voted to pay the living wage have said that they will allow Rev Waldegrave and his mate to determine the wages policy for the entire Council. It is a shocking dereliction of duty.

And the actual living wage based on their own original methodology should be $22.89 an hour. They just decided that such a figure was politically hard to justify, so changed their methodology. So the City Council has not even signed up to a consistent methodology (otherwise they would be paying $22.89 an hour) – they have signed uo to paying whatever figure Rev Waldegrave declares to be the correct one.

Worst logo ever

November 7th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar



This is almost as bad as the Wellywood madness. There was nothing wrong with the old logo. The colour is awful, and the cross is meaningless. At least they left the slogan untouched.

Flip then flop

August 23rd, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Michael Forbes at Stuff reports:

Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown hailed it as a vote on which the city council would “show leadership”.

Councillors had spent more than two years arguing over the Basin Reserve flyover project, and yesterday – finally – was the day to declare whether they would support it to a board of inquiry.

But in the end, Ms Wade-Brown just couldn’t bring herself to do it – and she joined five other councillors in voting against the $90 million project.

She had barely left the strategy and policy committee meeting before her fellow councillors were accusing her of a “flip-flop”, of dithering and of being indecisive.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen such extraordinary behaviour over one council paper,” mayoral rival John Morrison said.

Ms Wade-Brown began the meeting by saying she would have preferred a tunnel, but the best way to show leadership was to negotiate as many design improvements to the flyover as possible.


After months of negotiations with the New Zealand Transport Agency, the council had done that, and she said she thought the agency would come up with a more pleasing design if the council offered support rather than digging its toes in and saying no.

Again, she’s right.

But then – after councillors had all made speeches, largely confirming their long-held views – Ms Wade-Brown asked to speak again.

“This is a lot better flyover [design] than we started out with,” she said. “But I just cannot support the flyover myself.”

So by her own words she voted against an act of leadership and her own recommended strategy!

Is WCC value for money?

May 4th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post editorial:

By any stretch of the imagination, the nearly $66,000 base salary paid to Wellington City councillors is not a pittance, especially when most have top-ups of $14,000 or more. For that sort of money, Wellington ratepayers have a right to expect their elected representatives would at least stay awake around the council table, make firm decisions on matters of vital importance to the city and keep informed about what is going on within the organisation they govern.

What Wellington has got is councillors who are unable to work together on key issues, and who at times appear to be woefully ignorant of vital aspects of the council’s operations. Ratepayers should be asking themselves whether this crop are worth their present salaries, let alone the $76,600, plus top-ups of up to 50 per cent that will kick in after the next election under changes announced by the Remuneration Authority.

There are some good Councillors, but there are also som who have been there far too long, and need to go.

Already this year, Mayor Celia Wade-Brown has revealed she had no idea that up to $350,000 had been budgeted to house her in temporary offices while the council chambers were earthquake-proofed. How did she and other councillors find out? They read about it on the front page of this newspaper.

That was a damning admission.

With this level of competence from a Green Mayor, imagine what fun we may have with six Green Cabinet Ministers?

Then there was the months of dithering over whether to support the proposed flyover for the Basin Reserve, a project some councillors still cannot bring themselves to accept as the best option for fixing the city’s transport problems, despite voting to pay $40,000 for a report that clearly stated just that.

Yes, they rejected the very advice they commissioned!

One of the rationales for paying councillors above-average salaries is to entice talented candidates who can offer something of real substance to local government. It is hoped that proves to be the case when ballot papers for October’s local-body elections are delivered to households later this year.

It is about time Wellington started getting value for money from its elected representatives.

Hear, hear.

Vote for the teddy bears

April 19th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Karl du Fresnse writes in the Dom Post:

Wellington could save itself a truckload of money by getting rid of its mayor and 14 councillors and replacing them with teddy bears.

Would the quality of governance be affected? Not a jot. The council bureaucrats would continue to run things just as they do now.

Maybe someone should should set up a ticket of teddy bears to run?

Wellington is hardly unique. In local government, real power often resides with the managers. But in Wellington’s case, it’s a lot more obvious than usual.

Hence my suggestion that the council abandon the facade of participatory democracy and replace the councillors with stuffed toys. Meetings would be over faster, the petty bickering and point-scoring would cease, ratepayers would be saved more than $1.3 million a year – which is what they pay the mayor and councillors – and council officials would be free to get on unhindered with what they do anyway, which is running the show.

I am personally fond of koala bears – I had nine of them growing up!

In Wellington’s case, Helene Ritchie is the standout survivor, having first been elected in 1977. Other long-serving councillors are Andy Foster (1992), the mayor, Celia Wade-Brown (1994), Stephanie Cook (1995), Bryan Pepperell (1996), John Morrison and Leonie Gill (both 1998), and Ray Ahipene-Mercer (2000).

Admittedly, it can be useful to have councillors who have been around a while and know the ropes. Besides, some long-serving councillors are conscientious and hard-working. But there are others you couldn’t trust to feed your cat. The trouble is, voters often can’t tell which is which.

Wellington is a dynamic, creative city that deserves a council to match. Unfortunately many of the incumbents give the impression of having run out of ideas and energy years ago and now merely keep their seats warm.

There are some good incumbents. But they are a minority.

Asleep at the wheel of Wellington

April 6th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Dom Post editorial:

Confusion has seized Wellington City councillors, and the spectacle is not pretty. While many of them were asleep, it seems,150 council jobs have been axed. “How did that happen? Why were our hands not on the steering wheel?’ asks Mayor Celia Wade-Brown.

This is a damaging question for any politician to ask, at least out loud. If the mayor did not know how the jobs went west, she should have. If her hands were not on the steering wheel, they should have been. It is no excuse to plead ignorance. It is the mayor’s job to know such things.

It was a damning thing to say.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time that the council has blundered about in confusion and ignorance. It is only a few weeks ago that Ms Wade-Brown was astonished to learn that the renovations for her temporary office were going to cost $350,000. When this newspaper revealed the fact, Ms Wade-Brown said it was unacceptable and would be scaled back.

It is beyond belief that the Mayor was not previously aware of the cost of her own office renovations.

Dom Post says Councillors fly in the face of reality

March 23rd, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post editorial:

Months of procrastinating, three and a-half hours of shambolic hand-wringing, $40,000 down the drain. All for nothing.

The stubborn, illogical and wasteful refusal of seven Wellington City councillors to accept their own officials’ finding that a flyover is the best solution for easing congestion around the Basin Reserve should be an eye-opener for ratepayers.

It is also something voters should bear in mind when they go to the polls to elect a new council in six months’ time.

Worth recalling that the seven Councillors were urged to do so by Grant Robertson and Annette King. They also are pro-congestion.

Councillors who oppose the flyover should have accepted that as the only possible outcome, no matter how unpalatable it might be for them. After all, the $40,000 report the council ordered at the end of last year to weigh the different options found that the bridge was the best solution. It also found that the underground “Option X” proposal the flyover’s opponents favour would in fact bring more urban development impacts that might not be possible to mitigate.

Yet having backed the spending of a five-figure sum at a time of great financial restraint to have a last look at the alternatives, Mayor Celia Wade-Brown and councillors Stephanie Cook, Paul Eagle, Justin Lester, Iona Pannett, Bryan Pepperell and Helene Ritchie backed a motion that the council ignore its findings by not endorsing the flyover.

They wasted $40,000 of our money on an un-necessary report. But having paid the money for it, you think they at least would not ignore it.

Ratepayers will rightly be asking why they shelled out $40,000 for a report on the Basin Reserve options if councillors who voted for that spending intended to accept its findings only if they accorded with their existing view.

That is the key. The report was commissioned in bad faith. Those seven Councillors are saying that we don’t care what the facts are, what the evidence is, we will not suppoty the flyover.

They have the right to have that view. But they should be upfront on it, and not waste $40,000 pretending to be open-minded on it.

 In case some councillors have not noticed, buses run on roads. The less congested those roads are, the quicker and more reliable buses will be and the more likely commuters will be to use them.

Wellington needs councillors who are determined to get the city moving. Instead, it has got an elected body that has a significant faction of councillors who refuse to accept reality, even when they are confronted with evidence that they are wrong.

We can correct that problem in October.

Wellingtonian on Wellington City Councillors

April 13th, 2012 at 9:41 am by David Farrar

The Wellingtonian has also rated the Wellington City Councillors, through use of a panel. I don’t agree with all of their ratings, but that is probably because of the different perspectives of those on the panel. The panel was:

  • Waterfront Watch chairwoman Pauline Swann
  • Former Wellington Employers’ Chamber of Commerce chief executive Ken Harris
  • Former Wellington mayor Sir Michael Fowler
  • Downstage Theatre director Hilary Beaton
  • Miramar Peninsula Trust chairman Allan Probert
  • Night Shelter manager Mike Leon
  • Former city councillor Sue Piper
  • Business and sports leader John Dow

The ratings are:

  1. Paul Eagle 70.9%
  2. Celia Wade-Brown 68.1%
  3. Ian McKinnon 64.2%
  4. Andy Foster 63.5%
  5. Ngaire Best 59.8%
  6. Justin Letter 55.1%
  7. Stephanie Cook 54.6%
  8. Leonie Gill 54.3%
  9. Jo Coughlan 54.1%
  10. John Morrison 52.1%
  11. Simon Marsh 52.0%
  12. Ray Ahipene-Mercer 51.9%
  13. Iona Pannett 51.7%
  14. Helen Ritchie 50.0%
  15. Bryan Pepperell 41.3%

I think few people would disagree with the bottom two placings.

Is it game over?

November 16th, 2010 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Dom Post report:

Terry Serepisos is facing fresh legal action, with the Inland Revenue Department seeking to liquidate five of his companies – including the one which owns the Wellington Phoenix – over $3.58 million in unpaid taxes.

The largest sum – more than $1.5m – is owed by Century City Football, owner of the Phoenix football team, for PAYE tax deductions, GST and KiwiSaver contributions.

I hope Serepisos survives, but if he does I suspect he will not be hosting The Apprentice again anytime soon.

In July I was in Hong Kong and surprised to see very large ads in the local paper there for his new apartment block. My reaction was that sales back home can’t be going too well, if you are needing to advertise in Hong Kong.

A Wellington City Council spokesman, Richard MacLean, said the council was “very concerned” over the future of the Phoenix but was unlikely to contribute ratepayers’ money. “We are not in the business of owning a football club.”


I’d love the team to survive also, but it is not the role of council to fund sports teams – sports infrastructure is another matter though.

Why Kerry lost

October 12th, 2010 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The impending loss of Kerry Prendergast has some saying that it was due to a bad campaign. But in fact my analysis suggests it was more tactical voting on the left. Kerry in fact got a significantly higher proportion of first preferences in 2010 than 2007.

In 2007 Kerry got 17,910 first preferences, which was 34.9%. She lifted that significantly in 2010 to 21,597 first preferences or 41.0%.

So Kerry’s vote went up by 3,687 or 20.6% relative to her 2007 vote, an absolute lift of 6.1 percentage points.

So I’d say Kerry (probably) lost for three reasons:

  1. The STV system was better used by the left, with their preferences staying with other left candidates
  2. There was only one really viable alternative – not three as in 2007
  3. Celia Wade-Brown did run a good campaign (and other Council candidates campaigned on her behalf)


I now have fuller details of the preliminary results. As each candidate was eliminated, this is how his votes went:

  1. Mansell dropped out first with 535 votes which went 10% Kerry, 21% Celia, 54% Others and 15% wasted
  2. Bernard dropped out second with 1161 votes which went 13% Kerry, 28% Celia, 45% Others and 14% wasted
  3. Brian dropped out third with 5891 votes which went 15% Kerry, 41% Celia, 21% Yan and 23% wasted
  4. Jack Yan dropped out fourth with 7,341 votes which went 24% Kerry, 46% Celia and 29% wasted

There were 2,140 people who voted for Jack Yan but did not give either Kerry or Celia a preference.

Sense prevails in Wellington

June 24th, 2010 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Dom Post reports:

Twin backing from Wellington’s mayor and police was not enough to see a city-wide liquor ban in the city, with strong public opposition prevailing.

Instead, the city council’s strategy and policy committee voted 9-6 yesterday to extend the booze ban – already in place in central Wellington, Aro Valley and the Mt Victoria lookout – only to Mt Cook and Newtown.

The council had considered the city-wide ban to curb drinking in public places, which can lead to aggressive and intimidatory behaviour.

The proposal sparked fears it was draconian and could see people arrested for enjoying a glass of wine at a picnic.

Exactly. It would have been illegal to crack open a bottle of bubbles in the picnic area at Otari Wilton Bush. The proposed ban was just the latest in draconian over-reach over alcohol.

A targeted ban in areas where there are problems is far more sensible.

Wellington police had backed it as being easier for the public to grasp.

“Police have indicated the focus of enforcement is on anti-social behaviour, and will largely be complaint-driven in suburban areas,” a council report said. ‘Although a possibility, it is unlikely that someone having a glass of wine with a picnic will be arrested.”

Possible but unlikely is not an acceptable threshold for me.


For: Stephanie Cook, Jo Coughlan, Rob Goulden, John Morrison, Mayor Kerry Prendergast, Helene Ritchie.

Against: Ray Ahipene-Mercer, Ngaire Best, Andy Foster, Leonie Gill, Ian McKinnon, Iona Pannett, Bryan Pepperell, Celia Wade- Brown, Hayley Wain.

What unusual voting combinations.

Kerry stands again

March 3rd, 2010 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

Kerry Prendergast has confirmed she will stand for a fourth term as Wellington mayor.

She told The Dominion Post last night that she would stand again as an independent, after earlier ruling out contesting the October election so she could spend more time with her family.

She will announce her candidacy this morning, appearing to kill the possibility that she would front an election bid on the Sir Bob Jones-promoted Vibrant Wellington ticket.

“I have decided to seek a fourth term as mayor to ensure there is ongoing confidence in Wellington’s direction, leadership and management of the council. I have always stood as an independent and I will do so again this year.”

Significant challenges included retaining the NZI Sevens tournament, increasing inner-city safety, and ensuring Wellington maintained a strong voice on national issues and resource allocation, Ms Prendergast, 56, said. “My campaign will be about how Wellington is doing really well at the moment and is a fantastic city. Why change?”

iPredict has Kerry;s probability of re-election at 86%, which seems about right to me.

Sir Bob said Ms Prendergast’s decision came as no surprise but he believed there was still a possibility she might stand on the Vibrant Wellington ticket.

The central plank of the business-led group is to create a bus-free pedestrian boulevard in the central city.

“If Kerry is going to back this, and it has been hinted at, then we wouldn’t put a mayoral candidate up. Simple as that. It would create a monument to her tenure as mayor.”

I’m a big fan of the vision to have a vehicle free boulevard from Courtenay Place to Lampton Quay. It will be interesting to see who stands on the Bob Jones ticket.

Personally I don’t think the ticket needs to worry about the Mayoral spot – the Mayor has only one vote, and has a huge number of other things to do. All the ticket needs is a majority on Council to instruct officers to draw up a plan for consultation setting out how the boulevard can be created, and what the cost is.

Buses in Manners Mall

June 5th, 2009 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

I’m sad that Manners Mall is going to be butchered by having buses run through it.

I can just remembers the days before it went pedesterian only.

The only upside is the possibility that a bus may run over one of the street kids who loiter in the Mall.


May 26th, 2009 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

I live in Thorndon. Wonderful place to live. I recall a few months ago a glossy brochure from the Council on how they wanted to help protect Thorndon heritage and protect some homes. It all sounded wonderful.

The nice glossy brochure forgot to mention that:

The council’s preferred heritage proposal would prevent Thorndon residents changing the exteriors of their homes without resource consent, including adding items such as skylights, decks or extra windows, which did not previously need consent.

It may even stop you changing your letterbox I am told!

Public law specialist Chen Palmer criticised the council saying:

It gave “insufficient information” about how current rules were working and did not justify why the proposed changes were necessary.

Its heritage planner had been “unwilling or unable” to discuss other options when asked to.

Oral and written consultation misled people about the impact of the changes.

Too bloody right. I don’t still have the glossy pamphlet but did not gain that impression at all.

Thorndon Residents Association spokeswoman Jo Freeman said many residents favoured a compromise. “As long as it doesn’t affect the streetscape you should be allowed to do whatever you want at the back or the side of your house.”

More red tape could lead to residents, already frustrated by stalled resource consents, abandoning the suburb, she said.

“I’ve had a number of people say, `If it comes in, we will move. We can’t live in our houses with our families the way they are now.’ It could result in a sort of a ghetto in Thorndon.”

Architect and Thorndon resident Roger Walker said he expected any heritage area decision to be challenged in court. In Auckland, blanket rules against demolishing pre-1940 houses in suburbs such as Remuera and Ponsonby were relaxed after a challenge by residents.

The Council is proposing actual zones, rather than identifying individual houses of significant heritage. And we see below what a nightmare they can be:

A Thorndon mother, fighting for two years to restore an 1883 home, says it highlights the pitfalls of protection.

She and her husband bought the house five years ago and plan to revamp it. “It won’t be that modern. We want people to walk into the house … to believe it’s always been like that. We’re just trying to drag it into the 21st century.”

The roof leaks, walls are not insulated, water drips from the bathroom to the kitchen, and light switches “sizzle”. Wellington City Council put a heritage listing on the house two years ago, preventing alterations to the outside till heritage planners approved them.

“It’s emotionally draining. We’ve had to compromise … to the point where the pleasure in doing up the house is gone.”

Delays have been frustrating but the council has charged only the initial resource consent fee. There is also a council heritage fund that can pay for some work.

However, the couple say council planners were inconsistent and delays had cost up to $100,000.

“When we tried to revert the windows to their original 1883 look, one heritage adviser said that would be no problem, but then another came along and … insisted that we keep the 1930s windows.”

They wanted to add windows, and were told they must be different from existing ones.

You can only feel sorry for them.

Wellington parking tickets

January 2nd, 2009 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

No surprise that Wellington City Council makes more money from parking tickets than even the much larger Auckland City.

The wardens seem to be on 24 hour patrol 7 days a week. Go visit someone for an hour at 10 pm on a Sunday night in a residents parking zone, and bang you get a ticket – even though there are dozens of empty parks.

Park on a bus stop on a day there are no buses usin that stop , and wham got you.

They also ticket you if the warrant has expired. That money goes to central Government, but I wonder what sort of commission they get from the $200 for doing the ticketing?

Does Wellington want technology or not?

November 26th, 2008 at 8:19 am by David Farrar

Very disturbed to read in the Dom Post:

Public anger over a proliferation of cellphone towers and broadband cabinets has prompted Wellington City Council to look at tightening controls on communication companies.

Council planners have received applications covering more than 170 sites from telecommunication companies this year.

They include more than 100 roadside cabinets, each the size of a large fridge, to be installed in Wellington as part of Telecom’s “cabinetisation” programme for faster broadband.

Also included are 70 applications from NZ Communications, which is establishing a national mobile network.

Complaints from residents and business owners over the proliferation of towers and cabinets prompted Mayor Kerry Prendergast to seek a review of the council’s district plan rules.

The rules allow almost all telecommunication installations on council-owned reserve land, and on land next to roads, to proceed unhindered.

Did any of those people complaining have a cellphone or use the Internet? If so, their complaints should be ignored as hypocritical.

Any Councillor that votes to change the rules should also surrender their cellphone and Internet connection.

We have national guidelines on safety for such installations. It would be madness to have every single cabinet and tower go through its own resource consent process, even if they comply with existing rules.