After a comparatively short campaign, thanks to the Rugby World Cup, the election is upon us tomorrow. I have previously written about the transport policies of National, Labour and the Greens in separate posts so I won’t go over those again. Perhaps the most significant shift in transport policy over the past three years has been from Labour, who have shifted their emphasis away from so much of a roads focus to a more balanced viewpoint on transport.

Obviously transport policies form but a small portion of why people choose to vote the way they do. This situation frustrates me somewhat, not necessarily because people should take transport policy into greater consideration when making their voting choice – even I can recognise that there are many more important issues that would decide your vote – but because central government holds the purse-strings on transport decisions to such a great extent. In contrast, transport is a very high priority issue for people voting in local government elections, yet councils typically find themselves unable to implement their plans if central government doesn’t come to the party. A fundamental transport policy I would like to see in the future is giving local government more say over transport matters generally – because I think that would be more democratic.

As I noted above, the changes to Labour’s transport mindset over the past three years has been significant and is greatly welcomed. I think that the election of Len Brown last year on a strong public transport mandate has given Labour the confidence that even though only a relatively small minority of people actually use public transport on a daily basis, a much greater chunk of the population recognises that, particularly in Auckland, a more balanced world-class transport system is essential for reducing the impact of congestion and helping Auckland become a truly world-class city. I have gotten to know a number of excellent “up and coming” Labour MPs over the past three years and I’m confident that their transport policy will continue to move in the right direction in the future.

While the Green Party’s transport policy has always been excellent, one thing that really excites me about their prospects is the quality of MPs that may be brought into parliament if the Greens’ vote can match their recent polling (something which has traditionally been a challenge for them). In particular, at number 13 on the Green Party list (requiring around 10.5% of the vote, or more if NZ First reaches 5%) is Julie Anne-Genter, a transport planner by profession. Julie’s knowledge about the impact of things like parking policies on transport trends and land-use patterns is huge – as you can see in the video below.

While many aspects of National’s transport policy continue to disappoint me, in particular the cutting of funding for public transport infrastructure over the next decade in the Government Policy Statement, I have at least been heartened by many of their billboards including mention of “rail”, along with roads and broadband as key parts of their investment in infrastructure. We must also remember some of the good things National has done: like providing $90 million to enable the order of a much larger set of electric trains and the $500 million for the infrastructure part of electrification – which has come out of general government funds rather than having to be repaid through a regional fuel tax (not that I think a regional fuel tax is a bad idea, but Wellington’s electrification infrastructure was paid for by central government so it seemed unfair that Auckland’s wasn’t).

Finally, it’s extremely important to remember that there are restrictions on what we can and cannot discuss tomorrow, in terms of the election. The Electoral Act 1993 very importantly restricts electoral advertising on Election Day – which extends to internet media such as this blog. Russell Brown has an informative post up explaining the situation and I’m going to largely approach things the way he has suggested. It’s not just a legal issue though, as one of the greatest things about New Zealand’s democracy is how we can vote without a gun to our head or without any pressure over which way to vote on that particular day. So a few things to keep in mind:

• Tomorrow we must not discuss the election in a way that is likely to influence people’s votes.
• It is OK to discuss voting experiences we had (i.e. the process) and to encourage people to vote.
• After 7pm (when polling booths close) is it OK to start discussing results.

If I have the time and energy I may post results updates throughout tomorrow evening.

Please, do remember to vote

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  1. What does NZ First getting 5% have to do with anything? Or are you calculating based on division of the “wasted” votes on NZ First being allocated to the other parties?

  2. If Nz First do get in and the Maori Party win 3 or 4 electorate seats but gets a very low proportion of the Party vote Parliament will be quite overhung. Which means that each Party vote counts for less.

    1. Not true. A party vote is based on a 120-seat Parliament, so it carries the same weight for getting in list MPs whether there end up being 120 MPs or 150. The only difference is that each MP is a lesser proportion of Parliament.

        1. The absolute theoretical maximum is 120 + number-of-electorates (currently 70, for a total of 190), which could only occur if a single party got 100% of the party vote and won no electorates. Realistically, I would be surprised if we ever got to even 130.

  3. National’s abolition of the regional fuel tax was disappointing as it was precisely the sort of local fundraising mechanism that would give councils local control over transport. It was also targeted at the right group — motorists cost loads and benefit greatly from improved PT. Instead, it comes out of general govt funds (bad taxes like income and gst) and we get the nats crowing about how committed to rail.

  4. Even though National’s policy is still dreadful the shift of Labour’s does even influence that, it moves the point of compromise away a little from the old extreme. It is such a relief that there now is at least some sort of debate and not just the cosy silence on transport. And great that the Greens aren’t alone on transport issues now, again that helps normalise views that hitherto have been derided as extreme. It is getting better. And because of external factors it will be even harder for National to execute the road looney-tunes ideas that it may think it can. However, that still will not help them move towards funding what is needed because basically public transport is the opposite of their overarching agenda of facilitating the the transfer of all collective wealth and benefit to private hands. The deserving few.

  5. Well I’m voting on transport issues, and that means I’m voting to get Julie Anne in with a Green party vote. I’m also voting strategically to keep Nathan Guy, current Deputy Transport Minister out, and I took great pleasure tonight in Levin putting a Green Party “For a Richer New Zealand” leaflet under the windscreen wiper on his electorate car as I went in for a curry. Even my palak paneer was green.

    Good luck Julie Anne.

  6. I’m actually voting National (in spit of, not because of their transport policies), but do really hope Julie gets in as she will be a real asset to the Greens and Parliament.

    Also vote to Keep MMP in the referendum so minor parties like the Greens can continue to have a powerful voice in Parliament

    1. There are still 15 minutes left before midnight, so here goes…

      I’m voting to ditch MMP. I don’t like the extremism that MMP creates. Whipping up a bit of anti-Asian sentiment, banging on about smacking, or planning a giant Greece-style spend up is the ticket to 5 percent of the vote and potentially the balance of power in parliament. I’m prepared to lose a bit of proportionality if it means that parties have to moderate their message in order to attract more of the electorate. I can’t believe that it is 2011 and there is a 50:50 chance that Winston Peters is going to decide the next government tomorrow. That is just a shit situation to be in… And there is no way I want to be doing it again in 2014.

  7. Definitely a lot more people out and about today than usual. The roads have a much busier feel to them than normal and I have never seen so many people out walking around at the same time on the footpaths near my place. What’s more when I went for a run the trains were quite busy as well (I run past the local station), one train heading west had just pulled away with a dozen or so people getting off and one was just pulling up heading towards the city and there were 20-30 people waiting on the platform for it.

  8. Obi, extremism? Where? Why does Winston scare you right wingers so much. Do you really believe Winston can create another Greece here in NZ? Get a grip.

  9. Well, National will reside in Government while we witness the dramatic shrinking of the Kiwirail network in the next 3 years. Not only will some lines be mothballed, I predicted some will have lines ripped up, to make it harder to reopen them in the future.

    Great to see Julie join as an MP for the Greens. She is surely an asset for transport groups aiming to redirect the imbalance in roading focus the Govt. has.

    Obi – scared of Winston? Haha, he will just keep the right wingers honest this electral term.

    I told some Labour MPs 18 months ago they needed someone with charisma to lead. That never happened, so they only have themselves to blame.

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