It seems the fight between the council and the government is turning into an all-out war. The first front was on housing where Building and Housing Minister Nick Smith threatened to override the council who are refusing to approve three SHA’s in rural Kumeu because of a lack of supporting infrastructure. The second front was opened up by Transport Minister Simon Bridges on Saturday who attacked the council’s transport plans saying they don’t have the right mix of projects to deal with congestion well enough in 20-30 years-time. When pressed the only project he could think of as a project that he didn’t agree with was rail to the airport. I’ve already covered off how the refinements that AT have been making to their plans appear to be making them more effective.

Yesterday Prime Minister John Key joined in the battle.

The jump in rates is due to the council’s decision to implement a flat levy on households to fund the city’s future transport needs. Households will fork out an extra $114 a year over the next three years for cycle and bus lanes, regardless of the value of their home.

The Government has ruled out giving the council the power to implement a fuel tax.

“I just think their priorities are wrong,” Prime Minister John Key said on TV3’s Paul Henry programme this morning. “They’ve got to turn around and say, what is the most important issue? The most important issue has to be, in our view, provide roading solutions in the very short-term for where people live. Only 15 percent of people live in the CBD.”

The Government has also called on the council to rethink plans to build from the airport to the CBD.

“If they want more tools for funding, I think they have to demonstrate to everyone they have the right strategy,” says Mr Key.

“When the strategy they’ve got is focusing on 15 percent of where people live – not the 85 percent of where they live, or on the fact that we need to build more houses and build those houses we need infrastructure – I think the council does need to sit down with the Government and say okay, because we have a lot of experts. They are going to do that I think, because in the end, if they don’t, then their options will be limited to basically their rates, and there’s only so far rates can go.”

Firstly I’m not aware of many houses that don’t have access to a road. By talking about people needing roads to where they live it seems as if he’s trying to bring in some reference to the special housing areas issue. If so then he’s quite off the mark as people aren’t living in those places (yet). It also seems he’s getting his housing and employment figures for the CBD mixed up however some of that kind of be excused, he was talking in the heat of the moment. The things that concerned me the most are:

The short term thinking – we’ve spent decade after decade doing the quick, easy and cheap options for building suburbs and it’s left the city a mess with poor public transport, walking and cycling options. One of the key reasons given at the time for having a single council was to break through the short term thinking and why the government required a 30 year spatial plan which is meant to provide a more strategic approach to how the city develops. By just quickly throwing in roads it’s likely we’ll have to go back in 5, 10, 20 years and retrofit everything to fix up the mistakes that will inevitably be made.

The ‘We know Best’ attitude – Auckland is no small rural town, in creating a single council the government set up an organisations with access to a lot of expertise and resources. When it comes to transport expertise I suspect AT is on par with staff from the NZTA and the two work very closely together. In fact they are so close the CEO from the NZTA sits on AT’s board and the NZTA have their logo on AT’s plans. Given all this it’s hard to fathom how exactly government staff conducting any rational investigation would be able to come up with any radically different solution.

The lack of an alternative plan – So far it seems the government just want to sit on the side-lines throwing rocks Auckland without actually presenting any alternative vision for the future. As mentioned just above it’s hard to see how the government could suddenly find a massively different solution to Auckland’s needs. Perhaps the timing and state of some projects such as rail to the airport might not be right but the project is 10-20 years away which is plenty of time to make adjustments if they are needed. It seems that the real reason behind the governments stance is simply for some political power game.

It’s not just about the CBD – The government and the media have talked a lot about how the councils plans are very CBD centric however it’s clearly untrue. One of the key purposes of the New Network and integrated fares is to make it easier to travel across town and transfer between services. It significantly boosts frequency all across the urban area and is shown best in the maps from yesterday showing the difference in frequent services from now to 2018. Yes there are projects in the CBD however they’re also projects that have regional scale impacts.

RPTP Proposed 2015-2018

If the government is playing some form of power game it would help if they got their numbers right. Yesterday Radio NZ’s Todd Niall published this excellent piece about the figures both Bridges and Nick Smith were brandishing around in public. In essence both have been caught out using wrong or misleading figures to push their arguments.

Another good piece on the issue has come from Tim Watkin over on Pundit.

If Key holds this line and refuses Auckland the power to act, he’s very much at risk of getting on the wrong side of the politics heading into 2017. The biggest bit of feedback from the recent council submissions was “get on with it”. Aucklanders may have run out of patience with Brown, but they (especially those under 40) will quickly run out of patience with a government that’s stopping the building of better public transport.

And as we all know, lose Auckland and you lose elections.

But worse, you can forget flags and surpluses. If National doesn’t let Auckland get on with it, Key’s government will have a legacy (like National governments of the 1950s and 1970s) of stopping Aucklanders getting the transport networks – and therefore quality of life – that the country’s biggest and only international city needs.

At this stage it’s very much looking like we’re heading down the road of another government leaving a nasty transport legacy in Auckland and if the previous ones are anything to go by, future residents will not be impressed.

John Key and Simon Bridges, show us your plan.

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    1. I think you’ll find that this government has raised fuel taxes significantly while in power, and what have we got for that?
      Why is it so bad when the council tries to invest in transport but not when the government does?
      Especially as the government seems to make such a mess of it – apparently they have spent a billion a year in Auckland, yet I can’t see anything to enable another 500,000 people in the next 15 years.

      1. exactly. National has increased fuel excise taxes by much more per person than Auckland Council’s transport levy. Back of the envelope calculation suggests National’s fuel excise taxes equate to $200 per person p.a., or $450 per household.

        Basically, National has increased taxes for transport by four times more than Auckland Council’s levy.

        Pot. Kettle. Black.

        1. By your logic Stu the cost per household in extra fuel taxes only applies to those who have/use vehicles. What the council is suggesting is an additional tax (rates) on ALL households whether they use PT or not? So the govt’s user pays (fuel excise) is appropriately targeted. The councils approach is not.

          1. The council and people of Auckland were keen on a user pays solution, but the government wasn’t, hence the current solution.

          2. I disagree. Everyone will benefit from a better transport system. Car drivers are just one mode. A rates levy is the most fair way to raise the funds because ALL will benefit.

          3. Yes Ricardo, the Counci’s consultation showed Aucklanders wanted user pays. We want to be able to pay for better transport in a User Pays fashion, but the National Party Govt doesn’t want Auckland to use User Pays and refuses to allow Council to do it. So we’re stuck with a flat levy until either John Key wakes up, or gets voted out.

    2. You should move to Temuka Mike. Low rates, no wasteful spending on stupid cycleways, no buses, no trains, no people.

    1. This one is the blogs “neighbourhood” loon, he comes in, squawks a lot, shits all over the blog, then flies away.

      Last we heard he was relocating his business out of Auckland, thought he’d be too busy doing that to post here.

  1. First they ignore you (Joyce) – Then laugh at you (Brownlee) – Then they fight you – Then you win

  2. Can’t Auckland just ask for more autonomy like states in Australia or the USA. Sure it will worsen the debate between Auckland and Government but I feel Auckland is better off doing its own transport matter. Running it this way also means we Have our own transport group, vehicle registration style (we can charge more using the extra to pay for PT), and everything else the central government usually runs we can run our own. The only thing we still don’t have control over is of course customs at airport. But honestly government is treating Auckland as if it were a baby

    1. Of course we can ask for it, but we won’t get it (until a right-wing Mayor and council majority are elected).

      1. We have autonomy now. We have free reign to raise rates and borrow whatever money we require for what we want. We are quite able to tell central government to take its SHA plans and hit the pavement. We have all the autonomy we are willing to pay for.

        What the government is doing is criticising Auckland, much like the Feds in Aussie or America criticise their states. Its entirely normal.

        1. Govt controls half of all transport spending. The nature of transport spending dictates more than any other what the city becomes.

          John Key and the nationally elected National party have one vision while Auckland Council and their voters have another. Neither party has the ability to implement their vision without the other.

          What we are seeing is a clash between those visions. The victims of this clash are generation rent, who are suffering from the housing crisis.

          1. “Govt controls half of all transport spending.”

            No, they control “Y” amount of transport funding and the council contributes “X” amount, it is just at the moment X and Y happen to be similar. Now we need to find more transport funding and they don’t want to pay anymore than Y. We need to double or triple X.

            Now generation rent is in an interesting position. If the government pays the money comes out of generation rent’s taxes, but if the council pays (and rates are its only revenue stream) the money comes out of generation landlord’s pocket. I don’t see the problem here.

          2. The problem with generation rent is not the amount of money they pay in taxes or that landlords pay in rates. The problem is how big their mortgages and rents are and how much overcrowding or cold, damp illness causing housing they are suffering from.

            I estimated after the earthquakes in Christchurch rents went up by something like 40%, this was the equivalent of paying an extra 10 cents in the dollar in tax to the local rentier class.

          3. This transport network will be an upgrade to the transport efficiency of Auckland, increasing the desirability of living in Auckland. More people will want to live here and the rent will go up. Getting central government to pay for it will mean taxing generation rent to pay for their rent to increase.

            Make the landlords pay.

  3. Government expertise….. chch rebuild demolish all the fabric of the city and expect the cbd to recover…. that city is now 30 years away from recovering thanks to this government bowling anything that has a crooked nail….. National should stick to monetary policy which they are good at at f#@# out of city building which they very much got no clue
    I really don’t see what minor road projects they mean? Doubling traffic lights across the city? Eight new on ramps to Congress the motorway more? Adding pedestrian barriers the length of great south road to increase the speed limit to 70? Have they been to Auckland lately?

  4. It’s one more example of a trend for the entire duration of the National government: They think they know what’s best, in all situations, and on all issues. Local authorities aren’t their to make their own decisions – they exist to do what central government wants them to do. They formed the super-city because they thought getting one council to do what they wanted was easier than getting six different councils to agree on anything. Unfortunately for their plans, the council’s agenda has been quite independent of the government’s, and the new council is large enough to stand up to the government. In Canterbury they replaced the elected members of Environment Canterbury when they weren’t irrigating fast enough. They’ve changed the local government act to more closely prescribe what councils can and can’t do, and limit what they ask developers to fund with developer contributions. This government is never going to allow a fuel tax or tolls, because taxation ability makes councils less reliant on central government.

    1. yes I agree with this. National and a lot of Central Government agencies really do strike me as “we know best” and we’re going to force you to accept our way of thinking.

      That’s unfortunate because in my limited experience, the staff at Auckland Council and Auckland Transport know significantly more about building a successful city than anyone in National’s cabinet and the MoT. Time and time again comments from National MPs have shown themselves to be essentially illiterate when it comes to Auckland’s issues in particular and urban matters in general.

      They don’t know the details of the transport project/plans, they set arbitrary and illogical targets to delay the City Rail Link, they don’t know how and where Auckland is growing, they don’t know how transport impacts on land use, they ignore that the majority of Aucklanders want better public transport and walking/cycling more than roads, they don’t know how to measure the success of transport investment (Hint for newbies: It’s not congestion levels!). And their economic development priorities involve building a bigger casino and a convention centre.

      Basically, they’ve got Auckland wrong on every front.

      1. But where are the journalists asking the transport minister these questions?

        New Zealand is suffering and will continue to do so as a result of our piss-poor fourth estate.

    2. Nick Smith, Key, Brownlee and English are definitely using the Canterbury model on Auckland. Being deliberately oppositional, preventing any genuine partnership on issues like housing and transport. When everything goes wrong. Blame the council and threaten to replace the council with government appointees. Now they say that ‘supply’ in Canterbury has stabilised house prices.

      This model kind of worked in Canterbury because of geography, the city was able to rebuild scattered across the Canterbury plains. The costs though are congested long commutes, a CBD that is still munted because it missed at least one cycle of commercial rebuilding and moving Christchurch even further from the cohesive multi modal cycle friendly transport system that residents wanted for their city.

      1. The other aspect of the Cantabrian model is the deliberate and willful under funding of transport. Transportblog has kindly put up the figures showing how much each regions gets back of its locally generated transport taxes -Canterbury is the worst off province by a significant margin.

        In the cost sharing agreement between the government/Brownlee and Christchurch City Council/Parker there was inadequate funding to repair road surfaces to a usual standard after the underground services have been repaired. This means Christchurch will wait 20 or 30 years for the ‘normal’ maintenance cycle to get round to repairing roads.

        This means for the next 3 decades CCC will be under huge local pressure to focus spending on roads rather than other transport modes.

        How is it good for NZ that its second biggest city has third world roads and no choices about other transport modes -cycling, bus expressways, passenger rail?

  5. This government sits on the sidelines full stop when it comes to the root cause of Aucklands current pressing transports needs and that is the moronic immigration policy, and I don’t mean NZ citizens. All this cheap labour pouring in, in the guise of “student visa” holders, tens of thousands of them have to live somewhere and have to commute somehow. Not only does this unofficial policy fuel the housing bubble (that the big cheese of the ANZ denies is bubble, cheers for that bullshit Mr Vested Interest) but it is causing plenty of problems on our roads/buses/trains.

    Time has come for genuine government leadership to look after ALL New Zealanders on this matter, not just your wealthy mates and stop blaming AC/AT for the mess you have help create and sat back and watched. And to add insult to injury we have to endure the clueless village idiot Dr Nick Smith, MP for bloody Nelson telling us in Auckland what goes and what doesn’t.

  6. Everyone agrees the one thing holding Auckland back is the poor quality of its Public Transport infrastructure and services. Here is a banker who [correctly in my view] points out that Auckland residential property has simply corrected to an urban value pattern [ie more proximity -> more expensive] in line with its competitors across the Tasman. It has woken from its suburban slumber:

    ‘Hisco said Auckland was now more like major Australian hubs.
    “I really feel for young people trying to get a foot on the property ladder in central Auckland,” Hisco said.
    “The prices are high by historical New Zealand standards but not high compared with similar areas in Melbourne and Sydney.
    “Some people may have to change their expectations and move further south, north or west where houses are more affordable. This is why it’s critical Auckland hurries up and improves its public transport,” he said.

    Of course another way it is becoming more like Australian cities is the move to apartments and other forms of higher density in city and inner areas.

    1. Hisco’s oily musing seems so reasonable, so measured but this guy as any other bank CEO has to smooth the waters. “We are victims of our own success”, “reasonable infrastructure”, well in terms of motorways yes, compared to Liberia, certainly. And the “magnificent harbour” , well that’s one man’s opinion but does that justify houses going up by hundreds of dollars per day, No! Geez mate, how thick do you think we are? Plenty of bank CEO’s said the same pre GFC and what became of those of Lehman Bros. Merrill Lynch, Bear Stearns et al.

      These bankers all have such vested interests here and frankly if I were paid the big bucks and had no morals I’d pretend everything was roses too. Can’t have talk like there’s a crisis, there’s a bubble, Better than admitting things are getting hairy.

      Unlike Australia, New Zealand governments have in fits and starts intentionally created a low wage economy in NZ since the early 1990’s under Richardson/Birch with a boyish Bill English looking on in wonder, then a hiatus 2000 -08, and then especially over the last 6 years a return to wage suppression with wage growth at a meagre at 1-1.5% maybe up to late 1’s year on year with mass cheap imported labour. So we don’t have the incomes to support Sydney and Melbourne type house prices much less what is going on in Auckland. But what we do have a Ponzi scheme instead fueled by cheap money, at the moment and speculators selling homes to each other. How much longer though?.

      1. Auckland is definitely aligning with our big city neighbors, we have now got that critical mass in population that we have been talking about reaching for years. And don’t act like there is no money in Auckland, I can assure you there is money out there. The question is, is council and the government going to let Auckland ‘grow up’? Our inner city prices are not yet aligned with other-cities, its the restrictions on intensification that’s dragging the prices out into the suburbs.

        1. Not acting, of course there’s wealth, more and more $$ in fewer and fewer hands but have you heard of the growing wealth gap, its all the rage in NZ. We are a low wage economy unlike Aussie.

          1. haha Aussie has the highest minimum wage in the developed world at US$16.22. We are close at 7th coming in at US$12.09.

  7. Its not just Auckland Council this government is getting off-side with either, it seems.

    Yesterday it was the Head of Road Policing being pooh-poohed by Key and co for suggesting that 100k road limits aren’t a blanket fit on all roads.

    Today its the Local Government NZ group on road safety calling for a reprioritisation of road spending away from RoNS to allow NZTA to deal with safety issues on existing state highways.
    [To which Craig Foss associate MoT, basically said “spending money on RoNs is the best way to make roads safer”]

    Although those who use the existing PuFord road might disagree, since no safety improvements have occurred there for some time due to the “pending” tolled RoNS going in nearby sometime in the next few decades.

  8. I just took the 895 up to Silverdale and passed a morning traffic queue on the Dairy Flat / Albany highway that had to be at least 5km long from the traffic lights in Albany Village. It wasn’t moving, either.

    Yet houses and units are sprouting all over the hillsides near Albany Village and they will all need to enter this roadway. But there aren’t even traffic lights at The Avenue.

    The government overriding the Council over infrastructural objections would be even more evidence of how clueless this government is on urban issues of almost any kind.

    Amazing. I guess when the traffic is really bad (it will get even worse) people are conditioned to blame the Council…. When the fault actually lies elsewhere.

    1. The fault lies largely in the RMA which is the antithesis of planning (being a 1980’s hangover).

      Even if the Council decided there would be no more greenfield growth, developers can just turn around and lodge private plan changes which only have to mitigate localised “effects”. Wider congestion and financial costs are loaded onto the long suffering ratepayers.

      1. Greenfield developments can be ok if there is a ROW for fast PT as part of the development process, or paths and bike lanes to a fast PT station. In Germany construction workers often catch the bus, tram or train to new sub-divisions. If fast, regular and reliable PT is a known fact before houses are built this encourages more affordable higher density housing for no loss in amenity value because households do not need, two cars, double garages, super wide driveways….

        National want the new householder, the private sector to over capitalise on cars, garages, driveways, commuting time etc so the public sector can save on PT spending from the NZTA. It is all about getting back into government surplus without reversing its tax cuts or its ‘Think Big’ RoNS.

        This plan looks like it will fail because Auckland house prices have gone boom, meaning the Reserve Bank cannot lower interest rates as much as our competitors overseas have done, which means our dollar is over valued. This affects NZ’s exporters all over NZ.

        The fight between the Wellington Government and Auckland Council is New Zealand’s biggest issue.

    2. Their worldview is the same thing that resulted in the horrors I witness regularly in Seattle – downtown Seattle and Tacoma are nice enough, but everything outside is this:,-122.4484191,15z/data=!3m1!1e3

      Five lanes in each direction now for most of it and yet somehow traffic is still appalling, always, and they just keep building more and more roads and (massive) interchanges as they fill up the hinterland. Every time I go there I can’t wait to leave, or at least get out of the car.

      Everything is strip malls, I hate it so much.,-122.3060153,16z/data=!3m1!1e3,-122.30844,15z/data=!3m1!1e3,-122.4723337,15z/data=!3m1!1e3

      W’re still building this shit too – Westgate, Albany, Botany Downs etc. What are we doing?

      I don’t understand how anyone who sees this in real life that sit back back and think, “clearly we just need more roads”

  9. Very disappointing to hear what the Prime Minister had to say on this matter. It seems the PM and his government thinks roads are the answer to all our transport problems. For the last 60+ years, ever since destroying the tram-network, the priority in Auckland has been the car. The result of that is plain to see and that is why Aucklanders overwhelming support priority of PT over more roads. I saw Mayor Brown on Campbell Live last night and John Campbell saying to him at the end I wouldn’t want your job is right on the mark. Mayor Brown has to deal with this National Government who fundamentally thinks that the PT is worthless and constantly stymies Auckland’s attempts to improve this city. At least the PM is been honest now or perhaps third-term arrogance has crept in. Before the National government pretended to support things like CRL but pushed support out in the hope that Auckland would change it’s mind on the matter – Cameron Brewer and co would get elected to power. I think it is is clear that if you want PT for Auckland you can’t vote for National. I don’t want to get too political but it’s just getting beyond the joke.

  10. “It seems the fight between the council and the government is turning into an all-out war.”

    We shall fight them on the streets and on the houses …

  11. “If they want more tools for funding, I think they have to demonstrate to everyone they have the right strategy,” says Mr Key.

    This would be much more credible if the Government also demonstrated they have the right strategy. A 3c a litre fuel tax increase looms on 1st July, bringing the tax to a record high. There is no sign of a business case for the Puhoi to Warkworth toll road or other RoNS. We don’t even know how much the toll will be. You’d think that already having a failed toll road in his own electorate would make Hon Simon Bridges a bit wary of the risks, but apparently not.

    1. The fact that Auckland voted for this means we have the wrong strategy? Cause you know, what would Aucklander’s know?

    2. As has already been said, I too thought Key had more sense than this. He after all has lived in London, Singapore, and currently lives in Central Auckland. Disappointing, if they continue this trend, people will start getting frustrated and they will loose the Auckland Vote. For Aucklander’s transport could become THE large national election issue, if the government continue this trend. We have already seen where Aucklander’s preference is.

    3. At least fuel tax rises function as a defacto carbon tax, but you can’t raise taxes to discourage driving and then provide no alternatives. Making people pay more to do the same thing with worse outcomes (congestion) seems particularly craven.

    4. maybe it’s time for some targeted questioning from Julie Ann Genter to see if the Minister will answer some direct questions

  12. I always assumed John Key had a little more sense than the others – after all he does live in Auckland and he has lived in London.

    But this is one of the most moronic things I’ve ever heard!!!!!

    Auckland is going to grow by 500,000 in the next 15 years, the Government has no strategy whatsoever except a handful of motorway projects. But apparently AT can tackle future congestion problems by focusing on local roads!! WTF?

    I wouldn’t say I’m a lefty or anything – but how did these morons get elected?

    1. National got elected because they bring important attributes to government that people like. Stable leadership for example.

      Where they have gone wrong, IMO, is to allow their ideological affinity for roads to blind them to more effective solutions to transport and land use issues in Auckland. It’s not hard to see why: The National Party is generally dominated by people who grew up in high-income suburban and rural households. They are used to getting around most places at most times in their choice of new European car. About 12 months ago I saw a National Party staffer publicly describe buses as a “peasant wagon” on Facebook.

      In this context, despite all the work done by Auckland Council., Auckland Transport, and NZTA to develop what are credible, mature, and funded plans for all modes of transport in Auckland, National has decided to throw its toys like a bunch of kids. Mainly because they simply don’t like public transport and walking and cycling.

      Let’s get this straight: National has no plan for transport in Auckland. Never has, never will. Their plans consist of throwing more billions of dollars at advancing largely ineffective highways. Meanwhile they have cut finding for public transport and walking/cycling and generally stymied any attempt to advance long-term planning for those modes.

      So while they have some attributes that appeal to the electorate, they are sadly uninformed of urban transport and land use issues. And from recent murmurings it appears they don’t want to take the time to become informed either. While ignorance can be excused, willful ignorance is very unbecoming.

      1. It isn’t just public transport and walking/cycling they have cut funding for. They have also cut funding for local roads. Just like the great GST/income tax switcharoo their best trick seems to be give with one hand and take with the other, whilst hoping no one clues onto it. To what end? Getting to their baches in Omaha 5 minutes quicker?

        1. I’m not sure they have cut funding for local roads (but could be proven wrong here). What they have done is take funding for maintenance and fixing issues (usually safety related) with rural state highways and ploughed the funding into a very small group of low worth motorway projects.

          1. NZTA used to fund 50% of the cost to seal rural roads. They have now set the benchmark so high there is no hope of gaining funding any longer.

          2. In general NZTA fund 50%+ of council’s spending on roads, I don’t think this has changed. What do you mean by “They have now set the benchmark so high there is no hope of gaining funding any longer.” Who is ‘They’ in this case?

          3. NZTA did conan. In 2009 the NZTA changed their qualifying criteria.

            From NZTA planning and investment manager Brian McSwigan.

            “Even a road carrying a significant amount of logging traffic doesn’t stack up against the funding criteria,” Mr McSwigan says. “It’s conceivable a road could have enough traffic to receive funding, but no road has met that criteria since 2009.”

      2. Electric cars! Don’t forget Simon Bridges’ enthusiasm for Teslas and autonomous vehicles. Not completely against these myself, but don’t see them happening any time soon, they perpetuate the problems associated with single occupant cars, and they certainly aren’t a rapid mass transit solution.

  13. There’s a possibility that this disconnect between central government ambition (or rather their attempts to constrain Auckland Council) and Aucklander’s wishes could be the beginning of National’s fall from grace. While I personally object to a lot of their policies, I could live with those but it’s transport where they really piss me off.

    1. I wouldn’t be so sure about that. Outside of Auckland metro limits they may be getting quite a bit of support for sticking it to the AC.

      1. Outside of the core on this blog site they are getting a lot of support from Aucklanders sticking it to the Council. Until the Council exhibits it can reign in waste and stick to core activities I suspect it will continue to receive stick and National will continue to prosper. I guess the proof is in the pudding. If National gets voted back in again by Aucklanders…

    2. Yeah, I agree. I’ve voted National in the past because I’ve found them to be the best of a bad lot, and Labour (which is effectively who you’re voting for if you vote for any other party) seems shambolic. However their attitude to transport will probably push me over the edge next time.

  14. Lots of you are looking at this all wrong. There was always going to be a shit-fight over this. It’s finally started. This is progress.

    1. Agreed, I think there was just a glimmer of hope that John Key was different because of his international experience. His comments have squashed that though.

      1. Its pretty logical, John Key has only ever worried about John Key making his fortune. Worrying about big things like other people only exists if money can be made for ones personal fortune from the exercise. Hence we have a clueless government!

        1. Well that’s the most un-factual comment of the day. I know John Key took a huge pay-cut, lifestyle cut to get into politics because he wanted to make a difference, I have the highest respect for what he has achieved and what he is trying to achieve. Doesn’t mean I have to agree with the direction or choices he is taking, but I respect the intention he is striving for. He wants the best for the country. I don’t personally attack the guy, just disappointed he doesn’t see what others do at times, to be fair he is probably acting off advice, however you choose who you get advice from.

          1. Well I never, John Key the Saint. I thought after 6 years of this guy you’s see past the myths and legends and PR manure.You don’t think he is using his position and the connections to go with it to make plenty more money. I would be terribly disappointed with him if he wasn’t.

          2. John Key gets off on the perks and status of being a PM, visiting the White House, playing golf with the President of the US, being an official guest at Buckingham Palace, walking around Matakana market and getting everyones’ adulation. These are things that status not wealth brings.

            The fact that the PM stopped working full time in the finance industry after amassing a personal wealth of $50 million (which still will be growing) doesn’t necessarily mean his motives are not selfish or related to his own personal ambitions.

          3. “The fact that the PM stopped working full time in the finance industry after amassing a personal wealth of $50 million”
            And may in fact be a lot higher if you believe the rumours (that being that his PR advisors suggested that $50mil was as high as NZ voters would accept in a personal fortune for a politician).

    2. Hence my comment above:

      “This is not the end. Nor the beginning of the end. But it is the end of the beginning.”

      1. Yes, that. It’s interesting that it may have taken the killing of projects in his electorate that has bought this to a head.

  15. It’s pure politics. If Mayor Cameron Brewer was proposing this plan John Key would be extremely relaxed about it. They just want to destroy Len Brown (and any possible centre-left successor).

    1. yeah I agree with this, although think it’s tactically naieve.

      Voters won’t link Len Brown’s demise with potential centre-left successors.

      And if they give the same treatment to his successor then they will very quickly get off-side with the Auckland electorate. I don’t think people will take kindly to seeing central government act like knobs to two mayors over a period approaching a decade.

    2. The problem with that is that in the next mayoral election every candidate will be promising to increase public transport, walking and cycling, even Cameron Brewer. The only argument will be over how it should be funded.

      1. This is what I call the Faustian or Sorceror’s Apprentice problem in politics: it’s much easier to get a meme going than it is to put it down when it’s ceased to be useful. For example, John McCain created the Sarah Palin monster in 2008 and it’s caused the US Republicans much grief since. The relevance here is that the centre-right have been rarking up anti-PT, pro-motorway nonsense for more than 10 years in Auckland for partisan advantage. Now that even Cameron Brewer is pro-CRL, they’ll have to deal with the grumpies like “mike” above, or the Northcote Residents’ Association, who bought all the nonsense about “Len’s train set” and “no such thing as #quaxing” and will be repeating it for decades to come.

  16. Central government is certainly frightened of an independent super city. The governance of Auckland is completely new territory for New Zealand, which has never had such an urban agglomeration before. Short of an anti-democratic coup (something, BTW, government stooges like Slater and Hoskings are now openly calling for) central government has woken up and realised it only has one tool to keep Auckland subservient, and that tool is funding. As long as they can keep a fiscal jackboot on the windpipe of Auckland council’s money supply, they stay in control. The minute the Auckland council gets the ability to raise taxes, Wellington and the civil service can kiss goodbye to telling the super city what to do – they’ll have to start negotiating as equals. And that is the very, very, very, very, VERY last outcome a bunch of authoritarian thugs like Brownlee, Joyce, Key and English want.

    1. which is probably why the Council’s perfectly reasonable transport levy has enraged them so much: It allows AC and AT to push on with their well-developed plans somewhat independently of National.

    2. The strange thing is this puts New Zealand off side with our colonial cousins. Australia, Canada and the US all have less authoritarian governments because they have multiple nodes of power -State governments, Senates etc.

      I attended Charles Montgomery’s (a Canadian) talk on “Happy Cities” and he mentioned national government a lot -referring to central govt. I believe because he sees the solutions as coming from communities not from a distant government.

      Charles in the write up in the Press got a lot of flak because people interpreted this to being anti the National Party and that somehow Lianne Dalziel the Christchurch Mayor had ‘turned him’.

      I think this says more about us than Charles, that many kiwis do not have the mental model in their heads that allows multiple nodes of power in our system of government which works collaboratively together and is not authoritarian.

    3. Well if Auckland results in a state kind of government then so be it. The central government can’t just restrain Auckland like adults do to kids. Auckland is a big city with very different needs and wants. What we want is some way to fix our transport and if the government is not going to give the money we will find our own way to get this

  17. “The most important issue has to be, in our view, provide roading solutions in the very short-term for where people live.”

    OK, get on with improving the roads where I live. Make the bus lanes continuous, clear out some of the waste-of-space free parking on the arterials, build protected cycle lanes, put in more safe crossings, signalise the free left turns, lower the speed limit on the residential side streets, and make them narrower…

    “In the very short-term.”

  18. Dealing with the issues – rather than the people – it seems fairly clear that tolling is the long term funding solution for roading.
    If the Government won’t support tolling motorways (reasonable arguments that national infrastructure intercity and inter-regional roading has national benefits) why can’t Auckland Council toll its own local roads? A simple solution is to toll all entries to the local roading system (i.e when people come off motorways, not when people use them). That would allow free motorway through traffic and respond to congestion caused by traffic to and from Auckland City. The technology to record number plates is cheap enough that the Council could equip cars and record local traffic at congestion points initially until mounted systems can be installed. If there is a legal problem, why not declare all local roads as parking zones and charge parking fees for their use i.e extend the current parking regulations to cover local road use.
    Where is the Council’s imagination?

    1. I like your thinking Bill. There is a lot of potential to reduce congestion with controlling the cost of parking. I like the idea of the cost to use the congested city streets. I don’t know what the implications are of toll booth back up onto the motorway would be but that is certainly the way to go with charging to use the congested streets.

      1. No need for toll booths Ted. Scanning cameras are relatively cheap and can be equipped in cars (in the US police use them for crime detection. Figures like $200,000 for 10 are quoted. Police car units there scan up to 7000 plates automatically in a normal 8 hr shift). Before automatic payment systems are set up charges can be collected using current processes like parking fines with a monthly invoice system.

    2. Maybe it could be overcome with the automatic charging system so tat driving through triggers the charge to the registration number and there is no stopping on the off ramp.
      I like the idea of the State highway through Auckland to the north being toll free.

    3. I’m always entertained by people who suggest penalising others who don’t subscribe to their view of transport methods etc. If PT is so darn good why doesn’t it simply attract users? Continuing to attack motorists and portraying the same as some kind of anti-christ gets quite boring. And that is why a rational approach is needed to assist and improve all forms of transport, not just PT, cycling and walking.

  19. I think it’s worth saying that the Government is probably sincerely concerned about house price trends and potential supply constraints in Auckland. They recognise that we face some significant macroeconomic risks from a housing bubble.

    That being said, good intentions alone do not solve the problem. They need to actually do something. They’ve only made very tiny moves to get the demand-side issues under control, such as minor changes to taxation of rental properties, and, I guess, allowing the RBNZ to go ahead with its LVR policy. On the supply side, their policies have been slow-moving at best – witness the tepid rate of construction at Hobsonville and Tamaki, where Government pulls the strings, and the slow progress in SHAs.

    From what I can see, Auckland _does_ have a plan, at least on transport, and it’s putting money up to build it. If the Government wants to play a constructive role, it should:
    * Back Auckland’s new regional transport plan, either with funding or new funding tools such as a regional fuel tax
    * Work constructively with Council to ensure that the transport plan aligns with the Unitary Plan – i.e. that we’ve got the right zoning in places where we have capacity in transport networks
    * If it’s worried about short-term price trends, do something to manage demand while new supply comes online.

    But for the love of god they shouldn’t just sit on their hands and complain.

    1. The government could have done more to solve the housing crisis if they had genuinely being collaborative with local government. If they had set aside their authoritarian 1950s mindset.

      They could have put National Policy statements in the RMA that housing affordability as measured by the median multiples and the urban land price curve are targets. That maximising the number of people in an urban area that have commutes of under 1/2 hour ideally and at the limit 1 hour could have been another target.

      They could have told councils to switch to rates on land values only to stop land banking and encourage intensification.

      The could have allowed councils to keep more of the locally generated taxes. This being transport taxes on fuel and road user charges. Also the GST component of construction work could go to local government in exchange for local government not charging developer and financial contributions.

      1. There is no evidence that rating on land value will stop land banking. Why would a rate of 1% pa deter someone reaping 10% pa by doing exactly nothing? Historically rating land value has penalised elderly who built a house on a large section and who want to enjoy their garden and the grandchildren running around.

        1. It would need to be one of many supply and demand ‘housing’ reforms to work. But at the margin it would encourage the sort of behaviour we want. The marginal cost to build on land urban land or intensify land use would be zero, whilst increasing the cost of doing nothing -land banking. Most Councils have a scheme whereby the elderly can defer rates and then when they pass away the deferred rates can be collected from the estate. This way the elderly can weigh up the cost/benefit -large house/section for the extended family to visit/use with a smaller future inheritance versus downgrading to a smaller more affordable residence that means the extended family get a larger inheritance.

          1. For most Auckland residential properties, the capital value of the buildings is only about 20% of the total rateable value, so we have land tax now. To be allowed to defer rates payments the owners have to beg, and show serious poverty. Most old folks are too proud to do this.

    2. Unfortunately, I really don’t think they fully understand all the mechanisms at work, and what it takes to get good development and good development outcomes.

      Which is really scary, considering that they (rightly) make a big song and dance about how important this issue is to the economy, and focus a lot of government energy in this space.

      I don’t think they even understand how damaging to securing housing supply their on-going conflict with Council is – that their own immediate aggressive actions are really just further undermining developer confidence in their ability to create the conditions for development to occur. That’s before we even get into the more complex subtleties of land use-transport integration, creating effective planning legislation and creating well designed urban environments…..

      That said, the more this goes on, the better our collective understanding of what are the positive ways to proceed come into focus. I hope we learn by our mistakes…

  20. Where are the idiots on this blog who called me stupid, over a year ago, in that re-zoning Auckland city wouldn’t lead to higher house prices?

    Come on, you know who you are!

    1. Right here, Auckland hasn’t been upzoned. The PAUP isn’t in effect yet and will infact be a downzoning for most areas et we have still seen a 17% increase in house prices.

    2. Rezoning land that allows for more development leads to lower house prices. And vice versa. Your point?!?

    3. Nothing to do with rezoning. More to do with massive immigration, most of whom want to settle in our biggest city, and for those who come in with fat wallets, buy at any price, pushing up the prices for all. Attend any central city auctions – the trends are there for all to see.

      1. Not even central city. There was an auction in Lauderdale road in Birkdale a Chile weeks back. As far as I could see, every bidder was Asian. Where they were born, I don’t know….. But even I was startled. The ‘optics’ of it……

  21. I’m not sure if I said it a year ago but I will say it now – that is a stupid statement.

    Easing zoning restrictions can lead to higher land prices but it won’t make dwellings more expensive. Zoning restrictions artificially suppress the price of land but their removal allows land costs to be spread across more dwellings ultimately allowing cheaper houses.

    Also the proposed zoning changes in Auckland are not operative yet so they can hardly be the cause of the current rising prices. And the proposed Unitary Plan does not ease zoning restrictions in the Isthmus all that much anyway. It largely enshrines the status quo.

    1. > Also the proposed zoning changes in Auckland are not operative yet so they can hardly be the cause of the current rising prices.

      Prices can go up because people expect zoning to change, even if it hasn’t yet. (But other than that I agree with you, of course).

      1. “Prices can go up because people expect zoning to change, even if it hasn’t yet.”

        Yes agreed. And I think part of the rise in central Auckland land prices may be due to anticipation of intensification beyond what is provided for in the proposed unitary plan. That is prices may have risen despite the plan allowing little intensification.

  22. At this stage it’s very much looking like we’re heading down the road of another government leaving a nasty transport legacy in Auckland and if the previous ones are anything to go by, future residents will not be impressed.

    John Key and Simon Bridges, show us your plan.

    They aren’t supposed to have a plan, they’re central government. The central government provides supplementary funding for the infrastructure, but never want to be paying too much.

    We’re Auckland, we’re the richest city in the country, we can pay for it. We shouldn’t be looking to central government or moaning at them when they don’t bend to our will. We have to pay for it and rates will need to go up even more.

    1. Exactly, we have the plan and have offered our fair share of funding which the government are now attempting to refuse to fund.

    2. Yup, all we are asking is for the government to let Aucklander’s raise the money through logical Auckland revenue streams. However the problem is the Government wont let Auckland have the tools it needs to get the money.

      1. We have an supremely logical revenue stream which the council is in full control of – increase rates by a lot more. That tool right there is fully in the council’s hands. They need to use it.

          1. Problems we are trying to fix are all detriments to the desirability of living in Auckland. Rates are logical, because the land owners of Auckland gain monetary benefit from any increased desirability of living in Auckland. Other revenue streams target many people who may derive no monetary benefit.

            If we are concerned with addressing the problem directly we can lower the fares for public transport and this will have the same effect as raising car costs, without the downsides.

          2. Rates aren’t logical because a large proportion of the population doesn’t pay them directly. Other forms of revenue make more sense. The fuel tax or motorway toll are user pays and one of the main benefits of moving a person from a car onto bus/train is the decongesting benefits to the road.

    3. So what is the point of central government then if they don’t have a plan and aren’t supposed to have a plan? That’s what they’re elected to do. Furthermore, they passed legislation which requires AT to follow their policy statement on transport funding…In any case they do have a plan, which is ideologically driven and involves building motorways, roads and refusing to fund PT especially anything that doesn’t allow them to build a bigger road somewhere. That’s their plan and they’re just annoyed at having a council and a transport agency that doesn’t tow that line. They’re still smarting at their man John Banks not winning the election first time round.

      1. We dont just need more rates. We need more TARGETED rates. That will ensure those benefitting from the new infrastructure pay for it.

      2. The point of central government is human rights, criminal law, education, health, taxation, social welfare, environmental protection, police, defence, sports funding…

        Local transportation in Te Awamutu, Westport, Invercargill and all the other local towns is the responsibility of their local governments.

        1. If that is the case, why do Te Awamutu, Westport, Invercargill and all the other local towns get 50% of their funding for roads from central government?

    1. Kirkbride Road is a very good example why decisions should not be made in Wellington. No one down there seems to understand that this intersection, while handling a very large volume of traffic, does so over a 20 hour period rather than the normal 2 hours in the morning and 2 hours in the afternoon. Perhaps some cabinet minister missed his plane waiting at the lights.

      1. Please stop bracketing “Government” and “Wellington”, as if one and the same. Wellington for its sins is just where parliament happens to sit. Many of the members and ministers who are running/ruining the country, actually represent electorates like Auckland Central (Kaye), North Shore (Barrie), Epsom (Seymour), Pakuranga (Williamson), Papakura (Collins), Upper harbour (Bennet). . .etc, even Helensville (Key)! Don’t blame Wellington for this and stop voting these characters in if you want Auckland to be better-served! Wellingtonians have done their best by returning mostly Labour members so stop maligning the city for poor-quality decisions coming from non-Wellington MPs 🙁

        1. This is been done to death, Wellington is well accepted as meaning decisions made by the government, not the City of Wellington.

          1. Yes, much like ‘Washington’. If decisions in USA were made by the actual representatives from Washington DC the world would likely be a better place.

  23. I’ve just spent half an hour in a taxi with a well-educated driver, discussing the woes of Auckland’s transport. Like others, he sees the answer as “we need a second Harbour crossing” and he views “Len’s train set” as not answering the issue of crowded motorway congestion.
    Seems to me that JohnKey is stuck in the same mind-set. Build more roads is their answer. Personally, I think more roads is the worst option. The only hope for Auckland is good public transport, not sharing the congested roads. CRL is a good start. Why can’t Gov see that ?

    1. Unfortunately this is the view of many Kiwis.
      “You’ll never get Kiwis out of their cars”,
      “NZ hasn’t got the population for good public transport”,
      “Of course you need more roads”,
      “You can’t get the kids to childcare without a car”
      . . . . excuses, excuses, excuses

      The govt (esp. the National Party) is full of people who think like this.

    2. A taxi driver does have a bit of a vested interested however, he doesn’t want people to have alternatives to driving aside from taking a taxi.

      1. They do, but the last taxi driver who took me to the airport supported rail to the airport, though strangely not the CRL (I did explain why CRL is needed for Airport rail, but he still wasn’t sure). His view was that people need a proper choice, he felt his customers wouldn’t take the train, but customers of lower rent taxis would, clearing what he considers a blight of taxis at the airport.

    3. Had that Simon Bridges in the back of me cab once. Nice guy. Reckoned all this crap about bus lanes was all due to the socialists at Auckland Council; reckoned he was trying to get rid of it. Cars are, after all, the way you get around in the twenty-first century. Me? Been driving for decades. Had John Key in the back of my cab in the 80s; made a fortune that guy; must be clever. Len’s train set? Don’t get me off on that one. I reckon they should have lifted all the train tracks and turned them into busways; they were gonna do it but the commies chickened out. Yeah, that global warming’s a pile of overhyped stuff; I had that English lord, whatsisname, Monckton in the back of me cab once. Not a tipper but he knows what it’s all about, etc, etc. The received wisdom of taxi drivers.

  24. ” “Len’s train set” as not answering the issue of crowded motorway congestion.”
    Leaving aside the childish nature of that – it solves motorway congestion for those on the train more than adequately.
    And this has been done to death, but why would you build a second harbour crossing when traffic on the current one is both moving efficiently and declining? It’s the approaches to the bridge that are congested and a second one will not solve this.

    1. Sadly, encouraging childish “duckspeak” (defined by Orwell as cliches regurgitated without need for thought) is how you win elections.

      1. Yeah, but hopefully some will learn now that controlling the narrative and then simplifying it down into a simple sound-bite is precisely how you win elections.
        Don’t forget both sides can play that game – ‘Quaxing’ – now that’s what I’m talking about 🙂

      1. That’s not personal enough. ‘John’s Bach Run’ maybe more suitable if we are going for like for like.

  25. The National government is speaking on behalf of clowns like Dick Quax, who tried all his life to be mayor of Manukau and failed. Quax and his mob still can’t get power in Auckland, so the next best thing is to lobby Simon Bridges, Steven Joyce and John Key to stop any investment in public transport in Auckland. It is absolutely disgraceful that this government is stopping the democratically elected council in Auckland getting on with it. Britomart is bursting at the seams, people are being left standing at bus stops because of full buses, forcing people back onto the motorways, yet Simon Bridges answer is “we need to talk some more”. Talk, delay, call for more reports. Waste of time. Utter waste of time. This is the type of arrogance coming out of Wellington that Auckland has had to put with for years. If John Key’s mob wants to change the “mix of projects” in Auckland, then run for election and get your people into the Council. Until then, they should just sit down and be quiet. Auckland is not asking them for more money. Auckland is prepared to pay for its own transport but the government refuses to give its permission.

    1. They aren’t stopping anything, we just have to put rates up by a bit more to pay for it. We’ve never needed their permission to do that, you are just making stuff up.

      1. I view the CRL as equivalent (for Auckland) to a motorway and the government should damn well pay for it just as they pay for motorways,

        1. Okay, here are the options:
          – we wait for the government to magically transform their views to align with your opinion (that a railway station is a motorway and not a railway station) and hope that at that time the local council are still committed. I’d guess somewhere between 2030s and never?
          – we pay for the most efficient transport option ourselves, then when it is built and becomes successful the government will probably jump on board.

          1. Except that they don’t have to decide that it is a motorway, just that it is National level infrastructure, which it obviously is, just like the Vic Park Tunnel.

  26. A local community association colleague and I spent 3/4 of an hour with our local MP and Minister for the Environment, Maggie Barry, some three weeks ago to push for the prompt construction of the CRL in preference to Purford. We stressed the need for early committment of funding by the Government. Thanks to regular visits to this Blog we were well briefed.
    Regretfully, for a Minister for the Environment she was more keen to tell us of big plans to be announced soon for a motor vehicle tunnel crossing under the Waitemata Harbour. Any form of public transport was not in the Government’s vision. We came away dismayed.

    However, because of inept replies by Ministers when the right questions are asked, I have high hopes that sense will ultimately prevail, because the risk of losing additional seats in Auckland will become very real, especially if Gen Zero can organize a campaign as effective as their Skypath effort.

    1. Dismay for me set in shortly after the 2008 election when it became obvious just how regressive the National govt’s views on transport were. And it got worse with each successive election as voters returned National again and again.

      It is ridiculous that we should still be having to fight these battles today, well into the 21st century. Many other countries got these sorts of arguments resolved decades ago.

      1. If people are worried about a $99 rate per Auckland household per year for three years, it’s probably worth pointing out that a third harbour motorway would cost around $1,200 per Auckland household per year… for ten years!

        1. Ah but that’s different. That’s for roads. Tax-and-spend is ok when it’s for roads. Apparently.

  27. ‘Half the copybook wisdom of our statesmen is based on assumptions which were at one time true, or partly true, but are now less and less true by the day.’

    John Maynard Keynes 1925

    Same as it ever was….

  28. I love the optimism displayed in the first part of this video… Unfortunately it didn’t work out like that. But as they say, hindsight is 20/20.

    Clearly some people haven’t lost their optimism since then.

    1. Interestingly Canterbury has about the same population as Auckland did in 1964 and we have 20,000+ cars going over the 4 lane Waimakariri motorway bridge a further 10,000 going over the old 2 lane bridge.

      What is the plan for Canterbury? (A) repeat of Auckland motorway only plan or (B) a mix of roads and public transport?

      Or do we continue with option C. Neither.

      1. The advantage of doing nothing (C) is that it still leaves the option open to do the right thing (B) when sense finally prevails. Pouring large sums of money into the wrong thing (A) pretty much guarantees that there will be no going back. The die is then cast.

        1. Dave is absolutely right. And this is the problem, the gov is not only wrong it is also reckless, finding financial tricks to make our children pay for their already out of date vision. A conservative cautious approach would be better, and understandable if they really had doubts about urbanity’s rise.

          And the oh so obvious solution to Waimakariri is to use the existing rail bridge to take a share of that passenger burden. But it’s hard not to feel that what Joyce has learned from AKL is that it’s a huge mistake to allow that sort of thing get a foot on the door because people will use it, and before long the locals will want more.

          That’s why they are delaying the CRL: they know it will be huge. I’m sure his wing of gov deeply regrets electrification: it’s unleased a flood. Bloody AKL.

          1. Thanks Dave and Patrick. It is all short term thinking stuff from a lazy government that cannot think further than the next opinion poll.

            Investment in transport (option B) plus supply and demand reforms to the housing market is critical for NZ to have a productive future.

          2. Brendon Harre ‏@brendon_harre 20 minutes ago
            @rafmanji @thehappycity Is affordable new urbanism possible? To increase amenity value while stabilising property prices?

  29. Ironically, another reasonable source of funds for this could have been the ACC levys which the government is planning to further cut to the tune of $500 million, all in an attempt to further subsidise the cost of driving. It’s a shame this money isn’t rather spent on dealing with the massive cost to the health system of people driving, or with providing options to allow people to avoid driving and hence improve their health at the same time.

  30. John Key said “The most important issue has to be, in our view, provide roading solutions in the very short-term for where people live. ”
    Then why are we spending so much money on some of the roads of National significance where people DO NOT live? e.g. Puhoi to Wellsford. At a guess maybe 400 people on the road and 3,000 within 2 kilometres.

    1. Why? Because this is what a few Government ministers want. There is no other logic and it’s a waste of time looking for any.

    2. Exactly Torbayite. It’s social engineering. They do understand that transport investment leads urban form, and they desperately want more sprawl, more angry SUV driving gridlocked man.

      Shame as it will make us all poorer, Auckland less competitive, less equitable, less accessible, less particular, more divided, and more like vapid nowhere’s-ville USA, and increasingly unfit for this century’s demands.

      1. David Harris, the creator of Pegasus Mail some years back, had it about right back then:

        “New Zealand is in real danger of becoming a McDonald’s nation – nothing more than a bland plastic replica of suburban USA – simply because we can’t seem to believe that we are as good as we are, or that our own culture and expertise have the value they do. As long as we remain focused on the trap of being “Little America”, we’re ignoring our greatest strengths – our individuality, our number-8-wire approach to finding novel solutions to problems, and an inherent humanity that believes that there might be more or better reasons for doing something than just the bucks in the bank.”

        And Germaine Greer was even more caustic about her native Australia:

        “If your ambition is to live on Ramsay Street, where nobody has even been heard to discuss a book or a movie, let alone an international event, then Australia may be the place for you,” she wrote in The Australian newspaper. “The pain of watching its relentless dilapidation by people too relaxed to give a damn is more than I can bear.”

        1. …..exactly, good finds, thank-you. This is the horror I feel in almost all of post-quake Chch (mall after identical mall), and in the new AKL edge cities like Westgate… these are shuddering non-places, nowheres, vapidly non-particular, zombie film-sets already unwittingly cast and funded by unpaid non-union victim-volunteers.

          1. NO coincidence that hat the NZ sci-fi show “This is not my life” used Omaha Beach as its setting for its story about a soulless dystopia … LOL

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