Let’s all pay by phone

Remember the last National Government’s stupid hospital outpatient fees back in the 1990s? The ones that were eventually scrapped because they often cost more to collect than the revenue raised.

Well, it seems the last Labour Government fell into similar folly with its toll charges on the Orewa-Puhoi motorway.

Brian Rudman reveals in the New Zealand Herald that it costs $1.29 in transaction costs to collect each $2.00 car toll.

And for people who pay the toll by phone, it costs $2.70 to collect each $2.00 toll.

If everyone who travels on the Orewa-Puhoi motorway were to pay by phone, the NZ Transport Agency would make a thumping great loss from its tolling regime. And raising the toll to cover the administration costs would be extremely unpopular – remember how Maurice Williamson was shut down so quickly by John Key and Bill English during the election campaign when he suggested a $5 toll on new roads. That statement probably cost Williamson a senior Cabinet position.

So isn’t it time for a bit of people power. Let’s all pay by phone if we use the Orewa-Puhoi motorway, and we’ll soon see the end of the tolling regime.

And let the Orewa-Puhoi motorway debacle be a lesson to the current National Government, who seem to think that tolling and PPPs are a great way to fund its “Roads of National Significance”.

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?

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.

Isn’t the Dim-Post wonderful

Especially this one, following Maurice Williamson’s “What I really meant was…” over National’s road tolling policy.

Senior National Party staff members were in damage control last night after an embarrassing gaffe by yet another MP. National leader John Key now says he was wrong in announcing that small-businesses would be made exempt from KiwiSaver employer donations under a National government. …

Communications manager Kevin Taylor denied that Key had merely revealed publicly what the party was planning to do privately.

‘John is not involved in high level policy discussions so he is not privy to what our policies are on this matter,’ Taylor said. ‘I’m giving the people of New Zealand my personal assurance that John misspoke and that his views do not reflect those of the party.’

Key’s blunder has forced the National Party into a guarantee that it will not interfere with KiwiSaver employee contributions in its first term of government, an announcement that was made by policy adviser Grant Johnston in the wake of Key’s blunder.

‘It is regrettable that statements were made on this issue by someone who is not in the loop and does not set policy,’ Johnston said. ‘Hopefully this should set the record straight.’

Although the polls suggest that Eagleson, Taylor and Johnston are set to triumph in the upcoming election, continued blunders from their MP’s still have the capacity to damage the party. The ongoing problem of MP’s announcing policy remains a constant threat to National’s election prospects.

I suspect the Greens will cop Danyl’s satirical barbs from time to time too, but hopefully won’t do anything as embarassing as the sequence of feet that are being inserted into National MP’s mouths.