Roll out the pork barrel

I’ve been puzzled ever since Transport Minister Steven Joyce announce the Government’s Roads of National Significance back in March as to why the Puhoi-Wellsford motorway was on the list.

The Puhoi-Wellsford motorway is far from a priority for the Auckland Regional Transport Authority. The existing road is only rarely congested. And with a price tag of $2.3 billion, the proposed motorway is enormously expensive.

The I read an opinion piece by Brian Rudman in the NZ Herald:

It will also do no harm to Mr Joyce’s reported desire to inherit Speaker Lockwood Smith’s Rodney electorate, through which the grand motorway will run.

And everything fell into place. Lockwood Smith is likely to retire at the next election. Steven Joyce, who lives in the Rodney electorate, wants to enhance his public standing by becoming an electorate MP. Rodney, his home electorate, would be the ideal place to stand.

And what better way to ensure he gets the National Party nomination for the electorate than give the movers and shakers there a brand spanking new motorway.

Pork barrel politics at its worst!

Meanwhile, I likely still won’t be able to catch a train between Henderson and New Lynn on a Sunday.

The Neanderthal Party

I’ve been surfing around through the bogus National Party billboards and discovered this one that I think deserves a few votes:

In Lockwood’s case, the description “neanderthal” is particularly appropriate. There is no place in today’s society for the “small hands and dirty butts” type of racial stereotyping he engaged in last week.

It is a bit more complicated with Maurice. I actually admire the man for telling the truth about National’s road tolls, and for letting everyone know that they will be at a level that eat up our tax cuts. It is a truth, however, that John Key does not want voters to hear.

Where Maurice is being neanderthalic though, is in his belief that more and more roads, whether tolled or not, are the answer. They don’t address congestion (as traffic volumes quickly expand to clog them), they result in increased greenhouse gas emissions, and are based on an unreal world view that oil supplies are unlimited.

So, in his own way, Maurice lives just as much in a “back to the future” universe as Lockwood does.

[EDIT] : Just seen a great Muppet Show parody featuring Lockwood and Maurice at The Standard.

I don’t have the skills to make and edit a video, but a Jurassic Park parody featuring Lockwood and Maurice is something that appeals. Anyone up for it?

National or Neanderthal?

Being in a heterosexual relationship (at least for now) I only occasionally read gaynz.com.

But today I received an email citing quotes from that site that shocked me:

Gay politicians and community leaders are expressing heightened concern at the National Party’s announced intention to disband the gay-aware Families Commission and divert its funding to services run by organisations such as “repressive” religious groups with a homophobic track record.

Speaking to a gathering organised by anti-gay Family First, National party leader John Key said he would abolish the Commission, and instead fund faith-based and other services. He told the religious forum that groups such as Family First and Ian Grant’s evangelical Parents Inc., which he praised, did not need bureaucrats telling them what constitutes a family.

Calling the plan “outrageous” and the product of either “bigotry” or “a preparedness to say or do anything in the pursuit of power,” Kevin Hague, a past head of the NZ AIDS Foundation, Chief Executive of the West Coast District Health Board and a Green party candidate says glbt families and individuals need to be especially alarmed by National’s plan. “It is a sad betrayal of National MPs like Katherine O’Regan and Katherine Rich who have been voices for celebrating the diversity of the wider human family.” Hague says Key’s proposal “reveals either the bigot within, carefully hidden until now, or a preparedness to say or do anything in the pursuit of power.”

Clearly in campaigning mode, Hague says the Greens “would want to see resourcing particularly available for groups like Rainbow Youth and for GLBT community organisations, but this would be additional to, and not at the expense of the Families Commission.”

Go Kevin!

Now, having given Lockwood Smith a lecture about his bigotry, I think it must be time for John Key to have a look at his own.

The Nats’ internal debate – a man of integrity v a slimy racist weasel

I have to say “big ups” to Maurice Williamson. Like the Greens, he is honest and up front. Although I seriously disagree with his neo-liberal politics, I respect him for his honesty and integrity.

Sure, he has been put under pressure to downgrade the quantum of potential road tolls. So he went from an initial $5 to $3. But that is not enough for John Key. Key doesn’t want it quantified. For fear of scaring off voters, he wants uncertainty about the level of any potential road tolls if National leads the next government.

But good on Maurice, one of the few honest National politicians. He says it like it is, and we can make a choice whether to take it or leave it.

The other National politician in controversy today is Lockwood Smith. He comes from a very different place from Maurice.

Lockwood Smith’s comments today expose him as a racist – one of yesterday’s men that I hoped our electoral system would leave behind with the imminent demise of NZFirst and Winston Peters.

But, no, Lockwood could not resist. He had to dog-whistle to the vile racist underbelly of NZ society that has been Winston Peters’ domain for so long.

So for any g.blog readers considering voting National – which National Party do you support? Maurice Williamson’s one of principled right wing integrity, Lockwood Smith’s one of bigotred racism, or John Key’s one of just covering up the cracks.

If Key had any principles, Lockwood should have been dispatched to the back of the back benches today.

Of Asian hands and toilet training

This wasn’t one of the factors taken into account when the Greens did their assessment of which of the larger parties they would prefer to form a Government, but it is further evidence we made the right choice.

National MP and Immigration Spokesperson Lockwood Smith was reported in the Marlborough Express yesterday:

“There are some skills in the vineyard that some people are perhaps better at. For example some of the pruning … some of the Asian workers have been more productive … because their hands are smaller.” Any changes would not mean reducing the number of Pacific Islanders coming in, he said. “It wouldn’t cut back because there’s such growth.”

Dr Smith also said employers should not be solely responsible for teaching or funding training preparing workers for life in New Zealand.

“Some of them are having to teach them things like how to use a toilet or shower … I don’t think the employer should have to pay for that work. I think if this is partly an aid scheme, the Government has to address how it’s involved in that.”

It is a timely reminder that racism is still alive and well in the National Party.

I guess that with the likelihood that NZFirst may not be in Parliament, Lockwood felt it necessary to reassure the bigots and rednecks that there would still be someone there to represent them.

UPDATE: And here is the reporters tape, which is just brilliant, given Lockwood’s comments about his earlier “secret tape”.