Transport Heavyweight Championship: Julie Anne v Gerry

Julie Anne Genter is a transport heavyweight. She’s got all the academic qualifications and consultancy  experience to know what she’s talking about as far as transport is concerned. Gerry Brownlee is a heavyweight too, although his most admirable qualification in that regard appears to be his loyalty to the National Party and his being prepared to take one (or two, or three) for the team.

So here’s how they shaped up in 3 rounds of sparring in Parliament last week:

Round 1:

Round 2:

Round 3:

Big points win to Julie Anne.  We have the long Easter recess for Parliament now, but I suspect when it resumes Julie Anne will win by TKO.

We Greens support non-violence, so however big and ignorant the opponent is, we still need to leave him or her with some respect. So no KO leaving Gerry convulsing on the canvas – although I’m sure you could do that, metaphorically, should you choose, Julie Anne.

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Transport policy launch – Get on the bus for light rail!

MP's and candidates at the bus terminal

MP's and candidates at the bus terminal

Today’s Wellington launch of the ‘Green is for go’ transport policy saw a bus full of Green Party volunteers, candidates and MP’s touring the route of the proposed light rail link from Wellington Bus Station, stopping outside Kirkcaldie & Stains department store, then through to Courtney Place and on to Wellington Hospital in Newtown.

Green Co-leader Russel Norman launching the policy

Green Co-leader Russel Norman launching the policy

At each stop, there was an opportunity for media to catch interviews with the candidates and MP’s, and for volunteers to hand out leaflets detailing the new transport policy to passersby. You can read the gist of the transport plan here, and read MP Gareth Hughes’ press release here.

Hutt candidates Holly Walker and Tane Woodley

Hutt candidates Holly Walker and Tane Woodley

While the bus was in transit, the passengers heard from MP Gareth Hughes (Ohariu) and candidates Holly Walker (Hutt South), Zach Dorner (YG ‘Victoria University candidate’), Jan Logie (Mana), Tāne Woodley (Rimutaka), and our own James Shaw (Wellington Central). Each spoke about the public transport challenges faced by their respective electorates, and the value of added funding for buses, trains and light rail. Jan Logie spoke of the enormous community opposition to the Kapiti Expressway, which has galvanised local residents, and James Shaw took his stand just as the bus rounded basin reserve, describing the extent to which the proposed flyover would overshadow the historic Basin cricket grounds, as well as cutting off Newtown, Berhampore and Island Bay access into the Te Aro/CBD area.

James Shaw as the bus rounds the Basin Reserve

James Shaw as the bus rounds the Basin Reserve

Speech by Hamilton West Green candidate to Campaign for Better Transport in Hamilton

What follows is my speech as the Green party of Aotearoa New Zealand candidate for Hamilton West, delivered at the first public ‘Meet the Candidates’ meeting held in Hamilton NZ by the Campaign for Better Transport.

“Kia Ora, good evening Hamilton.

My name is Max Coyle and I am standing for the Green Party in Hamilton West.

Cars have ripped apart my family, and ripped apart communities. Over three successive years an entire branch of my family was wiped out by car accidents leaving 5 people dead and 2 of my cousins orphaned. The car culture which see’s a car as an aspiration and symbol of wealth in our country today is unhealthy, and also unsustainable. Cars kill and they are inefficient. With the rising cost of fuel and the environmentally destructive methods needed to obtain the black gold, this culture has to end, but that’s not really what I’m here to talk to you about, I’m here to talk about a healthier and more cost-effective and economically beneficial solution, excellent public transport.

Public Transport is about community and you always meet amazing people on trips. On the other hand, motorways are barriers that all too often cut through the heart of communities. Where public transport brings people together, motorways keep people apart.

When my son is older I would like to take him to the beach, or to one of our rivers (once the Greens have made sure they are all cleaned up) and on our trips there I would like to spend time with him, entertain each other and make sure that every moment together counts, I want to be able to look my son in the eye, because the day he was born I realized that those eyes are where I find the most powerful unconditional love in myself I never knew existed. Instead I have to watch the road for fear of killing us all. One of the great things about public transport is that I can actively engage with those I am traveling with, you can not do that in a car traveling at 100km’s an hour.

I often have to travel to Auckland or Wellington and currently that time is wasted. It will be great when I can get my laptop out and connect to the net and get some work done on my journeys. It would not only make me more productive, just imagine how much more productive our whole country could become. Has anyone been to a city overseas where the public transport was effortless? How amazing does it make your trip? I’m sure tourists visiting our 74% pure country would be stoked to have the same experience here.

With amazing public transport which is both cost-effective and comfortable, efficient and timely, well planned and well run, we CAN change the car culture we live in. Being stuck in traffic could become a thing of the past. Every day around Hamilton West I see people driving cars with no passengers. It doesn’t make sense to be lugging a couple of tonnes of metal around by yourself on most trips and it will make even less sense when petrol is $5 a litre.

We must plan for a city of the future Hamilton. We must grasp our opportunity to be an accessible and economically successful city, now and into the future. Which is why I am standing for the political party of the future in the city of the future. My name is Max Coyle and I’m standing as the Green Party candidate for Hamilton West and on November 26th I invite you, to PARTY VOTE GREEN”

I visited the Waitangi Tribunal Library for the first time ever last week. Not to do some research on ‘Wai 262’ though I heard from the receptionist things had been busier there over the past 2 days. My visit was to see something on one of the walls, not in one of the documents, or books on one of the many shelves, well taken care of by a wonderful team of dedicated people.

One of those people was my Uncle, which brings me back to my visit. When I was quite young over the space of 3 years a complete branch of my family was wiped out. 2 Uncles, 2 aunties and 1 baby cousin. The first accident was a drunk driver crossing the centreline and crashing into my Uncle’s car. The other car following my Uncle plowed into the back of his car, causing my Uncles Ford Capri to be crushed betwee the two, I can’t remember whether he died instantly or minutes later. Hamilton West Green Party candidate Max Coyle and his Uncle the late Brett Sinclair

Exactly a year after that, 3 days before my Uncles unveiling, his mother, my Great Aunty Rangi died. The clinical diagnosis was a heart attack, though the rest of the family talked about her dying of grief, even at 14 I was quickly learning how powerful grief was. I believed my relatives, that it was the last year since the death of her beloved son, Brett Sinclair, that had taken too deep a toll. Having seen Rangi 4 months previously for what would be the last time, I remember seeing the shadow of a woman, standing where a once vibrant, warm and welcoming aunty once greeted us with baking and soup and a hug whose absence leaves me cold even today.

Fast forward a year and the family is having another reunion, this time on a happier note and we are preparing for an Uncles wedding. Our grandmothers large house in Gore is full of relatives from all over NZ and all the young cousins/brothers/sisters/nieces/nephews are playing upstairs.

A knock at the door see’s a policeman at the door, cap in hand. he has come as death’s messenger and informs us that My Auntie Lee, Bretts Sister, her husband and their 1 year old son have been killed in a car accident en-route to the wedding after my Uncle fell asleep at the wheel. There two older boys, my cousins, survived the crash, and were never the same again.

Unfortunately I didn’t have time during my speech to tell this story, I wish that I had. National both during the public meeting and through their policies are saying that the numbers just don’t stack up on funding public transport. David Bennett the chairperson on the Transport Working group refused to accept the 11’500 signatures from Waikato people calling for a passenger train to Hamilton. My number is 5, 5 dead, and I wish that number counted for something.

Template for Making Submissions on Waterview Connection

I’ve written a draft submission on the Waterview Connection that you’re welcome to copy and adapt. Submissions are due this Friday so please take a few minutes to read through it, add your name and contacts, delete any points I’ve made you don’t like, add any of your own ideas and then send it in to the NZTA at waterview.connection@nzta.govt.nz You could also send it to Steven Joyce as he is the one driving this project on steven.joyce@parliament.govt.nz

This will be one of the most expensive motorway projects ever built in NZ (per km) and by completing the Western Ring Route it will have a really lasting effect on traffic patterns in Auckland. So, don’t be shy, wherever you live in Auckland feel free to submit!

If you wanted to write your own submission that would be even better! For more information about Waterview check out here: http://www.transit.govt.nz/projects/waterviewconnection/. And for the Green Party’s position see here: http://www.greens.org.nz/node/21145

Draft Submission on Waterview You Can Adapt

Date
Name
Address

I oppose the early completion of the Western Ring Route (WRR) through the Waterview Connection because I believe:

  • the priority for Auckland should be building new public transport infrastructure. For example, electrifying the Auckland rail system, extending the rail line into a loop around the CBD, or putting in a rail link from Avondale Station to Onehunga Station to the airport and back to Puhinui on the Southern Line.
  • the Waterview Connection will not reduce traffic congestion in Auckland in the long-term. Completing the WRR will not reduce congestion on local roads near the motorway or in the greater Auckland region long-term. This is because building the motorway will induce traffic, that is, it will cause more people to drive in private vehicles than currently do so or are predicted to do so in the NZTA’s modeling of the project’s impact on traffic flows.
  • the costs and benefits of the projects have been calculated in a way that is fundamentally flawed. For example, almost 90% of the economic benefits of the project are based on congestion reduction or time savings for commuters but, as stated above, I do not believe building this motorway will reduce congestion long-term.
  • oil prices may rise sharply in the near future as they did in 2008. Constructing this motorway does nothing to “future proof” Auckland against sudden changes in oil prices. Instead it will simply increase Aucklander’s dependence on private motor vehicles to get around and mean we have no alternative mode of transport if oil prices peak.
  • climate change will require NZ to reduce our emissions dramatically. Road transport is one of the sectors in NZ whose emissions have risen most rapidly since 1990. Building this motorway will increase rather than reduce our emissions.

Some of the specific effects of the Waterview Connection I am most concerned about are:

  • the 240 people who will be forced to leave their homes and will only receive the government valuation of their house.
  • if there are backups of traffic waiting to get onto SH16 at peak times (as seems very likely due to the traffic that the project will induce) this will worsen traffic congestion on Great North Road.
  • negative effects on the local sports club Metro Mount Albert who will lose some of their fields when the Alan Wood Reserve is taken for the motorway.
  • impact of poor air quality in Waterview on the health of children at Waterview Primary School and St Francis School. NZTA traffic modeling suggests there will be more than 90,000 vehicles/day traveling through the interchange between SH16 and SH20 which will be only a few 100 metres from both schools.
  • negative effects on Waterview School of losing some pupils (due to the loss of houses in the area). I do not believe that moving more Housing NZ tenants into an area with poor air quality that will be cut off from the rest of Auckland by two major roads (the Waterview Connection and SH16) is an acceptable solution to this problem.
  • loss of green spaces (e.g., Alan Wood Reserve, Hendon Park) in an area that already has a very low ratio of green to built up space.

If the early completion of the Waterview Connection goes ahead despite my opposition some modifications I would suggest to the project to decrease its negative effects are:

  • make one of the two lanes in each direction available only to buses, freight, and high occupancy vehicles (3 passengers or more). This will counteract the “induced traffic” effect of completing the WRR to some extent.
  • use sound walls and tree planting to minimize the effect of the above-ground sections of the motorway on residents.
  • compensate those people who will lose their houses by giving them slightly more than the current government valuation for their properties.
  • cover the section of the motorway that will be above-ground near the intersection of  Blockhouse Bay & Great North Road.
  • ensure that the project will not make construction of the Onehunga to Avondale rail line any more difficult than it would have been before the Waterview Connection is built.
  • carry out on-going testing to ensure that air pollution from the interchange of SH20 and SH16 will not damage the health of students at Waterview or St Francis School. If there is a health risk then I believe NZTA should investigate the possibility of either relocating the schools to another site close by or using tree planting to provide an air-cleaning buffer between the interchange and the closest classrooms.
  • work with the Metro Mount Albert sports club to ensure that they are compensated for their lack of fields through construction of new fields elsewhere.
  • use bike and walking bridges over the motorway to ensure that residents are not cut off from their communities by the motorway.

Finally, I live in the project area so I hope my comments will be noted with due attention/I do not live in the project area but since I believe that the completion of the WRR will affect traffic throughout the Auckland region I hope the NZTA will attend to my comments.

I would like to be kept informed about this project by email/post. I can be contacted at xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx email or xxxxxxxxxxxx phone number as well as by mail.

 Yours Sincerely

XXXXXX

slow learners

In an astonishing display of not learning anything much from the Mount Albert by-election the Prime Minsiter chose a new minister today; not the sacrificial Melissa Lee, but untainted Nathan Guy, who responded by immediately pledging his support for an horrendously expensive and disruptive motorway.

Transmission Gully, the pet project of parochialists like Peter Dunne, has been sold to Wellingtonians (for roughly $1 billion!) on the basis that it’s a better option than massive roading redevelopment to the coastal highway. That’s alway struck me a pretty poor choice – we haven’t been present with the cleaner, greener and probably cheaper public transport alternative to link the coast to the capital – just two roads that might or might not create more congestion.

So let’s hope our new associate transport minister will be more open to the options than his first day indicates.

Sinking coastal shipping is just plain dumb

Coastal shipping is the most energy efficient means of moving freight. A ship consumes 75 – 80 percent less fuel than a truck per tonne hauled. It’s just got to be the way to go.

The United States finally seems to be seeing this. A Bill before the US Congress, the Marine Highway Bill spearheaded by Stas Margaronis, president of Santa Maria Shipowning & Trading, proposes Congress to allocate $50 million a year for five years to finance federal loan guarantees sufficient to build a fleet of 66 ships to ply the Atlantic, Pacific and Gulf coasts.

With 300 53-foot containers each, the coastal ships will remove 20,000 truckloads daily off coastal US highways – yes 20,000 truckloads daily! The removal of the trucks will relieve traffic congestion and reduce maintenance, repair and upgrades needed to accommodate those large trucks.

And the project will create 20,000 jobs. It’s an ideal Green New Deal project to stimulate the economy at the same time as reducing greenhouse gas emissions and reducing dependence on oil.

This sort of project would work well in New Zealand too, as we are an island nation where every city has or is close to a port. It is the kind of proposal we should expect to see in the amended Government Policy Statement on Land Transport Funding (for some strange reason, coastal shipping is officially categorised as land transport).

Sadly, it seems this is not to be. Sue Bradford took a look at the draft Government Policy Statement this morning, only to discover that funding for domestic sea freight development had been slashed by $27m to just $3m over the next 3 years.

I find the shortsightedness of National’s roads, roads and more roads approach impossible to fathom. It defies all logic, and raises suspicions that they have been bought by the road transport lobby.

Proposed ratios of spending on roads to alternatives to roads under the document blow out to a maximum of $9 : $1!

But it’s not too late to have your say. You have a week. Get the submissions on the stupidity of this draft policy statement rolling in to gps@transport.govt.nz before 5pm on Thursday 2 April.

Taking the train to tackle climate change policies …

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of a couple of hours spent (in a very ‘last-minute’ action) travelling out to Paraparaumu, with a crew of Bowen staffers and some local Green supporters, to join with Co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons in a small media stunt, ‘door-stepping’ John Key on climate change policy as he passed through Coastlands Mall on his campaign trail.

Jeanette on the train

Jeanette on the train


We travelled comfortably, Jeanette opening her briefcase & reviewing some documents as we journeyed, at one point. We had no security personnel, we were casually attired, and we did not ask for, or need, a security escort by Police.

How different was the scene surrounding Mr Key – such a lot of staff, media from both networks and the print outlets, and lo! a contingency of Police shadowing him around the very dangerous environs of the Coastlands Mall. Our spotters in the carparks had seen the cavalcade of crown cars arriving, not a difficult group to spot! I had never before considered a Muffin Break café to be a possibly dangerous place, but then I haven’t been trained by the FBI.
Jeanette’s comments on the exchange with John Key

Debriefing over a quick lunch

Debriefing over a quick lunch


We stayed there long enough for the media to disperse, and to do some quick networking with Mana and Horowhenua Greens who had come to support the activity. Some of us ate some lunch, and then we all caught the 1pm service back to town.
Train staff were interested in what we’d been doing, and we had quite an informal discussion on the economy, the future of rail services, and how the cost of living is escalating, with two very friendly and articulate guards in our suburban unit train. To the incidental infotainment of the other passengers in our section …

It was a lovely day out on the Coast, and the views from the train are stunning. Now we just need to get a bit more money put into improving maintenance on the tracks, and getting some new rolling stock up and running, and we’ll once again have a KiwiRail service that is efficient, commodious, and ready to fill the gap that rising oil prices and climate change initiatives have created in our public transport needs.

Transport, part 3!

This is a bit of a plug – for a change, I’m writing a preview, instead of bragging afterwards. I’m aiming to catch a bus down to join this one, so there may be pix up sometime later on Wednesday.

Wellington province Green candidates, and sitting MP Sue Kedgley, will be arriving via buses and trains to participate in this event.

Any local greens who can make it along would be very welcome!

Wellington Transport Strategy Launch
Getting you home faster, cheaper, greener!

When: Wednesday 22 October at 8.30am

Where: Wellington Bus Depot (close to the railway station – outside Victoria University’s Rutherford House) where we will have a bus parked up with our Green signage on it.

What: Candidates from all over the province will travel in by train and bus to meet at the bus depot to launch the strategy. Sue K will give a short speech at about 8.40am and we will hand out copies of the Wellington Transport Strategy to the public.

TV3 will be filming the launch so please come out and support us on your way to work!

Edit: Here’s the update on how it went.

On a wet and windy morning, Green MP’s Russel Norman and Sue Kedgley joined regional candidates Lynette Vigrass, Virginia Horrocks, Gareth Hughes and Michael Gilchrist for a launch of Wellington regional public transport policy, travelling by train and bus and convening in the Lambton bus terminal. They were joined by a staunch group of supporters, who had braved a typical nor’westerly to join in this effort.

New bus ad’s being carried on Go Wellington Trolley buses were launched, with much flair, and attendance by TV3 and photographers from print media, as well as our inhouse film maestro, James.

Leafletting was carried out at the bus terminal and railway station, and then supporters jumped onto a chartered trolleybus, to ride the route down to Courtney Place, stopping to leaflet at Cuba & Manners Malls along the way.

Lynette Vigrass, Hutt South Candidate, with Michael Gilchrist, Mana

Lynette Vigrass, Hutt South Candidate, with Michael Gilchrist, Mana


Virginia Horrocks, Hutt South candidate, speaking with campaigner Fleur Fitzsimons

Virginia Horrocks, Hutt South candidate, speaking with campaigner Fleur Fitzsimons

Some leakage of supporters occurred, as those heading off to work slipped away, but we maintained a core crew to leaflet the Malls and Courtney Place, before dispersing at the National Office.

Gareth Hughes, Ohariu candidate, speaking with Micheal Pringle from National Office

Gareth Hughes, Ohariu candidate, speaking with Micheal Pringle from National Office

Policy is here Wellington transport policy

Roll out the pork barrel

I have given National a bit of stick here over the last couple of weeks about its employment relations policies. Now it is Labour’s turn to cop some, on a different issue.

Today, Transport Minister Annette King announced that North Shore outpost Whangaparaoa’s pet Penlink roading project would be funded from the Auckland Regional Petrol Tax. This is the worst example of pork barrel politics since the political demise of the Prince of Pork, Rob Muldoon.

Maybe we Greens are sometimes too trusting when we are given assurances from other political parties. Only three months ago, Jeanette Fitzsimons spoke in Parliament on the Land Transport Management Amendment Bill:

In fact, after the regional priorities have been established and applied to the first 5c that Auckland will fund through the regional fuel tax, Ministers can add a second 5c that does not go through that process and that they do not put through that process, and Ministers are not obliged any longer, after the select committee—as they were when the bill came in—to be satisfied that their projects are consistent with the region’s priorities.

This is the worst kind of roading pork-barrel politics, and I do not believe that the Government intended it. It took me so much time last night, when I had another look at this, to work circuitously around the clauses, and around the actual impact of what the select committee had done, that I think it is a mistake. I do not believe that Ministers would want to force Aucklanders to pay the interest costs, through a regional fuel tax, on roading projects that they had not chosen and that were not consistent with their priorities.

So the Greens negotiated an amendment to the legislation to ensure this would not happen:

65M Additional capital projects may be included in proposed regional fuel tax scheme for Auckland region
(1) If the proposed regional fuel tax scheme that is lodged with the responsible Ministers under section 65K is for the Auckland region, the responsible Ministers may amend the proposed scheme by including 1 or more capital projects that the responsible Ministers have identified as priorities for the Auckland region, provided that the responsible Ministers are satisfied that the projects are consistent with the Auckland regional land transport strategy.

Now the Minister of Transport, Annette King, has said that she will approve funding of the Whangaparaoa Penlink road from Auckland’s regional petrol tax.

Jeanette was quick to respond. This extravagant roading project is not consistent with the Auckland Region Land Transport Strategy. It is the pipe dream of Rodney Mayor (elected under FPP with 29% of the vote) and former ACT MP Penny Webster. It is totally inconsistent with plans to get Auckland moving, because it will just encourage more commuter cars onto Auckland roads. And, above all, it is not consistent with the Auckland land transport strategy adopted by the Auckland Regional Council.

So it is strongly arguable that Annette King’s proposal is completely unlawful, as well as being one of the worst incidences of pork barrel politics designed to get votes from an outlying Auckland suburb that normally votes overwhelmingly National.

Jeanette has threatened legal action for non-compliance with s 65M of the Land Transport Management Act. Go Jeanette!!!

Let’s hope Aucklanders see through this debacle and give their votes to neither Labour or National, but to the Greens, who will get Auckland moving again and engage in principled, rather than pork barrel, politics.