Editorials 4 June 2010

The Herald wants some trams to play with:

On a broader canvas, cities such as San Francisco and Melbourne are closely identified with their trams.

Auckland chose another route when it removed trams from its streets.

Now, more than 50 years later, they are being readied for a comeback on the city’s waterfront in time for next year’s Rugby World Cup.

They can be successful here as well, but only if other developments in the Wynyard Quarter provide a suitable underpinning. …

The Press focuses on water:

The granting of final approval this week to the Central Plains Water irrigation scheme should now let the proposal finally get under way.

The process by which the decision was reached has been long and impassioned and has wound up costing about twice what was originally estimated.

But along the way, the scheme has been rigorously scrutinised. About 2000 submissions were considered by the independent planning commissioners.

It has been much modified in the light of criticism that was made of the original proposal, and it is now much less ambitious than first intended.

In the end, though, the potential benefits have now been weighed by the planning commissioners against any adverse effects it will have on some people, and the final assessment is that the scheme will be good for Canterbury.

The Dom Post talks promises:

Mr Key has now been burned twice in a matter of weeks for taking positions he cannot defend.

The first was the Crown’s negotiations with Tuhoe. Whatever the Government is saying publicly, it is obvious Tuhoe was led to believe that ownership of Te Urewera National Park was up for negotiation. As Mr Key belatedly realised, it should not have been. But the fallout from Mr Key abruptly removing the park from the table has soured relations between National and the Maori Party and created a fresh source of grievance for Tuhoe.

Mr Key’s second false step – actually it was his first – was his pre-election promise, given both to this newspaper in response to a question from a reader and during a TV3 leaders’ debate five days before the election, that Kiwibank would never be sold. The promise conflicts with National’s policy on state-owned enterprises – that none will be sold during this term of government but that sales could be considered in future.

Key has now restated that Kiwibank will not be sold – not just during this term. He had little choice once he realised that his pre-election statements about sale were not just about the first term.

Key has gone to great lengths to keep faith with the electorate. What he is finding now though is that he should have been more careful with what he said pre-election. It is my belief that no leader should ever give a permanent guarantee on an issue. They should give commitments for the upcoming term of Parliament, but should always retain the right to campaign on a different policy at a future election.

The ODT asks if Peter Bethune is a hero or a victim. Some might say neither!

It is possible to feel strongly opposed to Japanese whaling in the Southern Ocean yet uneasy at some of the actions taken in opposition to it.

That’s me. I joke that the only people I hate more than the whalers are Sea Shepherd.

He continues to blame the captain of the larger vessel for a sudden change in course and a direct attempt to ram Ady Gil, such that a collision became unavoidable.

The exact sequence of events – who did what to whom – remains masked in confusion amid claim and counterclaim, the only certainty being there was a collision and, consequently, the unsalvageable Ady Gil later sank.

It was no surprise. The whalers have never had a collision with Greenpeace or other protest ships. Only Sea Shepherd who have a long history of trying to ram other ships.

It is hard to know at this distance the extent to which his tearful supplication to the Japanese judiciary on Monday was for their benefit – or that of the world at large.

Many activists tread a fine line in their efforts to invoke sympathy for the cause, often teetering but a small mis-step from achieving precisely the opposite.

Nobody, least of all those who believe Japan’s “scientific whaling” in the Southern Ocean to be bogus and unacceptable, would wish a prison sentence on this singular activist; but there might be those prepared to concede he appears, by his actions, to have asked for one.

I hope he does not get a prison sentence, because that is what he wants.

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