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Labour, Green welcome block to Basin Reserve flyover; Brownlee says cars still the future; More expenses problems for Claudette Hauiti?

Labour, Green welcome block to Basin Reserve flyover; Brownlee says cars still the future; More expenses problems for Claudette Hauiti?

By Bernard Hickey

With 59 days left until the September 20 election, here's my daily round-up of political news from in and around Wellington on Wednesday July 23, including reaction to the surprise rejection of the Basin Reserve flyover in Wellington and talk there is more to come in the Claudette Hauiti expenses story.

The Environmental Protection Authority's Board of Inquiry into the NZ$90 million Basin Reserve motorway flyover issued a draft decision declining applications for resource consents for the project.

The news hit like a bombshell in Wellington and among politicians focused on transport. It appeared a blow for the Government's country-wide push for Roads of National Significance, where projects with lower-than-usual benefit to cost ratios are pushed through.

The Board of Inquiry decided the 90 seconds of travel time saved was not worth the disruption of the blot on the landscape around the Basin Reserve. Proponents labelled it as a major blow for the Wellington economy, while opponents were thrilled and argued again the money would be better spent on public transport and cycling.

Labour's Wellington MPs Annette King and Grant Robinson said the decision should be seen as an opportunity to properly fund transport in Wellington, rather than an excuse to take resources away from the capital.

“The Board of Inquiry has found quite clearly that the flyover simply did not deliver the benefits it promised, while at the same time seriously compromising the environment and heritage of our city,” Grant Robertson said.

“The Board of Inquiry has done a thorough job and has highlighted some serious shortcomings in the NZTA proposal,” King said. 

“Now is not the time to throw our collective hands in the air in despair. It is an opportunity to get this project right for decades to come. Labour is committed to doing just that," she said.

Green Transport Spokeswoman Julie Anne Genter welcomed the decision.

"Both popular and expert opinion opposed the flyover. The proposal was expensive, unnecessary and would have undermined the Basin's heritage value," Genter said.

"Every day the Government says we can't afford wasteful public spending, yet the Basin Reserve flyover had a poor cost benefit analysis and is more costly than other options. NZTA's own data shows declining traffic volumes on the propose route. The flyover was a solution looking for a problem," she said.

Brownlee disappointed

Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee said NZTA would now look at its options, although he still thought the Flyover was the best option for the region.

"That's our preference, that's what we wanted to do, that's what we thought would be good for the region," Brownlee was quoted as saying.

Brownlee said while there was a huge commitment to public transport in Wellington, New Zealanders still used cars as their primary transport.

"New car ownership - It's now up as high as it was in 1981. So the idea that we're going to not need roads in the future I think is the wrong one," he said.

Brownlee later told reporters before Parliamentary Question Time that the Flyover route was chosen by engineers after 11 or 12 years of consideration.

"I guess the court knows more than all those engineers that came up with that solution. Wellington misses out eventually," he said.

"But that's what Wellington wants, that what I guess happens. It's disappointing, incredibly disappointing. Because I don't believe that the decision is representative of what people want for the Wellington region," he said.

Brownlee dismissed a Labour idea for a second Mt Victoria tunnel without a Flyover.

"The second outlet tunnel just sees you funnel twice the traffic into the same place so the idea that you can build a second tunnel without any sort of interruption is incredible. The prospect of getting a consent through a process like this for a tunnel has got to be a heck of a lot harder than getting to for a flyover," he said.

"You'll put twice the volume of traffic into exactly the same space and the idea that you can do that without the same consenting issues and without the same engineering challenges is utter nonsense."

More problems for Hauiti?

Meanwhile, in the wake of National List MP Claudette Hauiti announcing her retirement at the next election after 14 months in the job, there may be more problems for her.

The Dominion Post (not online) reported sources saying there were further questions to be answered about her spending on a Parliamentary expenses card.

I'll keep updating this through the day.

(Updated with comments from Brownlee)

See all my previous election diaries here.

See the index for's special election policy comparison pages here.

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The thing i find funny is that all these people/politicans who go against the flyover are the people who i see travellking around in cars and taxis on routes buses ply.
Oh well send this roading money up north of the bombay hills, its not up for car users to fund public transport thats for general taxes- so campaign for tax rises then Ms Genter and Labour

Incorrect. Public transport is funded by drivers through road user charges and petrol excise duty. This is as it should be as the main beneficiaries of public transport are in fact private vehicles, who would experience massive congestion if public transport were otherwise not subsidised.

So why is public transport so expensive? Fare Prices are already very high, hundreds of thousands of dollars are raised every day by fares yet this still doesnt make ends meet.
Just how much are the drivers getting paid?
i dont think they are getting the money. maybe you are in this public/bureaucratic industry that you are defending and can tell me what costs so much that needs all this cross subsidys

Why is public transport so expensive? Because it can be? If the commuting rush hour trains and buses are packed to standing room only (except for school holidays), then they can keep charging what they are charging. Or is that too simple?

seems about right to me, so why if they are packed to the hilt cant they afford to pay for the service themselves instead of needing cars owners to cross subsidise?

Could someone please share some insight into the immunity granted to politicians/MP's breaking the law.
How the bloody hell can someone who misuses tax payers money still get paid $140k until election date? 
If I were to misuse the school's credit card, I'd be out on my ear and I'm certain that the MoE would cease paying me with immediate effect.
Isn't there any means of prosecuting MP's by the court system?!
Makes me angry. Particularly the lack of remorse shown by the individual concerned.

I couldnt agree more. I hear its dealt with by parliamentary services. Perhaps you can rng them and post back on here what they say.
Perhaps there has to be some minimum amount before charges would be laid (seems odd if you can be charged for stealing a one dollar chocolate bar) so i suppose that may not be the answer.
you could ask that grham mc greedy bloke too
perhaps Bernard can explain this somewhat more too

I see Winston is on the attack:
I didn't realise the individual concerned gets another 3 months pay!! Outrageous!
The fact you mentioned Graham McCreedy suggests there is little faith in Parliamentary Services anyhow.

mcCreedy lol
Good article, seems Key says she didnt have intent. Thats the same rubbish excuse the GCSB got away with.

We need to send CERA to Wellington. CHC people are sick to death of them anyway. All you would hear then is the sound of heritage buildings dropping to the ground to create space for whatever CERA dreamt up over drinkies last night.
With CERA's powers it would be their way and the highway.

I wouldn't wish CERA upon my worst enemy.
Although, maybe upon Bownlee - demolish Brownlee before he makes a new law so he get his way in Wellington...

"New car ownership - It's now up as high as it was in 1981. So the idea that we're going to not need roads in the future I think is the wrong one," he said
It's high because of the lack of decent alternative jerry.  dah.

So tonnes of un-moving steel littering driveways with the HP still being paid off, as we cant afford the petrol, or its rationed.
Oh boy is it going to be ugly, just a gamble that there will be no geopolitical event that wont cut the supply of crude sharply.  The few EVs around will probaby be "civil defenced" for use by those more "deserving" than their lawful owners who thought ahead.
Longer term as the output decline really bites I wouldnt want to be Jerry, but he maybe lucky, too large to be strung up from a lampost.  JK will of course have buggered off to Hawaii, Bill English will I assume "retire" to his south Island farm, bound to be safe there......

Just had a look at Kunstlers site and it explains volumes about you steven; you must really enjoy his article "That it hasn’t happened yet doesn’t mean you’re wrong…."
And you went as far as to buy a house near a railway! 

Yep "house near a railway" that is correct.
So I spend $80 to $100 a month on petrol and $100 odd on train fares while ppl around me pay several times that (and then parking on top again). When we were paying 60cents a litre of course Im sure that sounded strange, now its over $2 and heading up and you still think its strange?  uh huh.
I prefer this piece btw,

Here's me happy that you're making a effort to live sustainably but by the tone of your last post it seems you live near a train station for purely financial reasons rather than a sacrifice to live sustainably. 

I think there wil always be cars around - they're just too convenient. They'll have to move away from petrol as a power source, of course, but that's already happening

Yesterday saw Labour proposals for more rail development . Which century are these pople living in ?
Rail is a hopelessy costly, inflexible and inefficient dinosaur .
Rail started to decline 100 years ago when roads became more efficient 
There is almost no one anywhere on the planet building more railways .

London and sydney are
The question is so why is it so costly? Does Becca have rolls royces as their fleet vehicles?

Wrong I am afraid, on just about all counts.  Cars only made sense when energy was extremely cheap and hence were ubiquitous.  So we have accepted a bigger energy use for personal time saving and  worse we have designed surburbia around a never ending supply of cheap petrol. It isnt cheap any more and its going to get more expensive and even rationed....oh boy the wailing from that.
Inefficient, no as  mass hauler rail is only beaten by sea transport.
"More railways", wrong actually, just one example,
You can try and keep your head stuck in the sand, but really you will only be in a prime position to be hit first and hardest by the Peak oil juggernaut as it wipes out our "lifestyle".

two words
electric cars

Nope, wont work on the scale we have now, not for many of us at least.  Those with lots of income who can afford a $65k car lasting 10~12 years, yeah sure.  I will be on the train, I know this, but I bought my home knowing this. Those that have bought a house and use $150+ a week in petrol? yeah sure....lots of EV sales...yeah sure.  Lots of spare generation capacity? yeah sure...
It isnt that we cant change given time btw, its just that we are choosing to not change until there isnt enough time left...

id like to think the price of those cars will come down, just as conventional cars have.
not sure about generation shortages, but more use of solar and wind generation and the fact demand for electricity has dropped a lot in recent years (although i know price hasnt) does indicate that there is some capacity to spare. All the power companies a saying power demand has dropped.
Electric cars seem to cost about $6 to recharge to drive 160k.
seems a lot cheaper than petrol driving to me. Id be able to pay more for a car if that was the case and id be happy to pay even more to keep my money away frm bp

Tiwia, Mikeyb, Tiwai.  14.28% of NZ's generation capacity, falls over (caution:  prediction - may not come true, may come true sooner, may come true later, may come true with surprises attached) in 2017.  
And the coming model for EV's (particularly the very small ones) is a complete end-run to the 'Yeah but You'll nevah be able to Afford one' schtick that ones hears occasionally.

  • Ubiquitous and numerous - the Kandi mode
  • leased or hired or rented, not owned.  Ya gets the usage without the ownership
  • small therefore low mass therefore efficient therefore cheap to recharge and run and therefore efficient space-wise in dense cities
  • but not so small that ya cannae carry another person (even Toyota's miniscule I-Road manages That) and the shopping (that's if ya don't time-share on an IDF drone for delivery)....

Electricity Demand hasnt really dropped much it has just gone flat due to the recession.  So are you saying its OK to stay in recession from now on with 6% un-employed just so the better off have the power for thier EVs? I hope not.
EVs v Petrol, do the math.
Such sites as howstuff works just dont do the total picture, sure per km for energy is way cheaper.
Consider you are looking at a petrol car about the $20k mark V the same thing converted to EV (Mitsubushi MiEV) that is $65k (last time I looked).  So you have $45k in the bank to earn interest off, or take out debt on, that is even worse of course.  At say 3% interest (NET) that is roughly  $1200 in petrol per year an EV has to catch up to.  That is actually my total petrol bill at most. The Petrol car lasts 20~25 years the EV 12.  So in effect to drive for 25 years you need to spend $130k capital v $20k. Or maybe you decide at year 12 to install a new $35k battery into a 12 year old car worth maybe 3k? That is still up around 90k for 25 years.   Now an EV is probably less money to maintain, ie no oil changes etc  etc so some savings, assuming the garage doesnt charge like a wounded bull on your EV because they can.
In terms of price drops as more units are made there are some big assumptions in there that dont appear pan out. The batteries for instance are clean room technology. Lithium also has limited economic sources so the supply of lithium is likely to be constrained to say the least.
Sure show some URLS with realistic projections on price drops, because Ive seen none.

You're very pessimistic, Steven:
PDF file is 36 pages long and I don't expect you to read it all - but we're on the cusp of a revolution when it comes to cars (amongst other things)
Don't despair, the future's not as bleak as you paint it to be


Pessimistic, well Im an engineer and I understand the thermodynamics, scale and time issues.  The pessimistic bit is that we cant continue woth the lifestyle we have or get to what KPMG sees as our future. That doesnt make me pessimistic on adapting as long as we have the time and are of small enough scale, which is NZ to a T.
The problem with self drive is it uses more and more complex technology which requires more and more energy.  On top of that it still means we use petrol and potentially even more.  I cant see how it is a game changer energy wise.
Quite why ppl think accountants like KPMG have any idea over engineers etc is mind boggling...
here is a rebutal for the technology aspect
So do self-driving cars solve the Peak oil problem? Look at the growth in use of cars, its in the developed world, think self-driving cars are fit such use? I'd doubt it myself.
Here's another video, we'll start you with the short one,
Long one if you have the stomach,

Last i saw we werent in a recession and our manufacturing sector was booming so i cant agree with your comment about unemployment/power prices. 
I wouldnt want to project, i like to wait until i actually see the product but one thing i am confident in is that if petrol price levels rise enough then more effort will go into ev/ hydrogen vehicles and price should come down. 
im not up to speed on battery technology to comment but if there were recharging stations in more places then the need for bigger capacity batteries is reduced. The speed of recharging would be the issue then. I just dont write off motorways just because of the longterm reduction in oil supply

Some ppl like banks say we are not.  Reality check,
a) 6% unemloyment is documented.
b) Inflation is still circa 1.5% despite the whinning for 5 years its going to take off any time.
c) Power stats, well look here,
Itis still flat though the quarter (to march 14) before last showed an uptick.  I am waiting on the last quarter (to end June) to show an uptick or not.  If not, it was noise, if so, yes indeed there might be a bit of a recovery underway. Got to watch seasonally adjustments though (weather).
The problem with alternatives is they dont stack up as what we can afford as a national/global economy.  I'd suggest a lot of research before you continue to guess.
The last para makes no sense frankly. A big battery can be charged slowly over night, this maximises its life and uses electricity when it is at its cheapest/demanded.
Im not writing off motorways as such, what I am saying is there is no need for more of them because the assumption there will be more cars isnt supported by facts. ie the events of the last 5 years show a trend of less use and even exiting of use.

Oh, dear, Bernard, you've set off yet another religious war (like AAPL vs MSFT) between the Cars Roolz and the Cars Sux camp followers.
Whereas the middle path, as always, will be the one taken:

  • as Tiwai electrons are freed from their Potline Slavery, they become available for EV's and at about the right time.
  • as dino-juice becomes more expensive the new-fangled mechanism of Price Discovery will, almost magically, allocate those diminishing reserves to the uses of most economic importance.
  • as a secondary effect, such personal transport modes as Walkies, Horsies and Cycl- er , um - ese will become steamingly fashionable.
  • Talking of Steam, a short hop back to the Stanley Steamers of yore would also work for the incurable nostalgics.  Wood-fired steam - well, precisely That combination managed to power the timber industry until the 1940's, and I well remember the Kiwi Timber Company, in the Longwoods in the 1970's, running their mill from a Marshall traction engine fired by slabwood.  Until they managed to burn it all down one starry, starry night....
  • There will be a quiet re-adjustment to car-intensive activities such as Saturday Sport to re-acclimate to lessened overall personal mobility.
  • Over a much longer time scale, the urban forms will also adapt, as they always have, to predominant modes:  Grenoble is a good current example of such a mix starting to form up.

In short, us adaptable and inventive humans - er - Invent and Adapt.
Glass half-full.

"as dino-juice becomes more expensive the new-fangled mechanism of Price Discovery will, almost magically, allocate those diminishing reserves to the uses of most economic importance."
yeah of course it will.  I take you mean the richest will get most or all of it?
kunstler has a retort to that,  (oh and "quiet re-adjustment")
We dont invent really we just "learn" to use more and more energy to do what we did before, faster giving us the illusion its cheaper. As long as energy was cheap that wasnt an issue, now that is no longer the case, um no, I dont think its going to work out so well.
It just cracks me up when those such as yoruself with no apparant understanding of math, engineering or physics pronounce in a extreme right wing mantra like manner said engineers just like myself will save our collective ass. We'll do it because ppl such as yourself finally decide to pay us enough. Until then we denied we could or sat on our butts doing nothing because it just wasnt worth our while.  
Sadly of course we are both in the same test tube.

FYI I've updated with Gerry Brownlee's comments on the Inquiry's decision. He's pretty grumpy.

Thanks for the article
i dont blame him, i use to do the school crossing there, the place only flows well on a weekend and even then its starting to fill up. all three entrances to the big roundabout are slowly congesting up, maybe these commissioners dont have 9-5 jobs

I dont believe in this peak oil nonsense, things will change long before we run out .
There is an unbelievable amount of of fossil fuel and gas on the planet .
Apart from oil and gas , the coal reserves in Australia and Africa are sufficient for conversion to oil for the next 300 years using OIL -FROM-COAL  technology at current consumption levels
China is developing oil-from coal plants , as is India , Germany , South Africa to name a few .
Brazil has used ethanol from plants ( sugar)  as fuel for decades 
Hydrogen and long life rechargable batteries are alreay in use as substitutes in the US
If we ever get to this so called peak oil ,  we will find an alternative energy sources .
Its human nature to find solutions to problems , for example ............ Did New Zealand (or  England)  stop building houses when NZ ran ouf ready supplies of KAURI timber to use?
We will slow down our use of oil as new technologies develops .
We are in the oil age , and the stone age did not end because the world ran out of stones.

this duplicate tunnel idea of Labour does sound like nonsense.
Is anyone able to comment on that?
whats the point in two tunnels when people would just get fouled up at the basin still?
Anyone know where this draft release is?
brownlee says it took the engineers 10-12 years to agree this is the right approach, im keen to see why the commissioners think otherwise

Thanks will read that this evening with a drink

572 pages, well i had a go at reading it, seems all the councils were for it and even heritage nz. but seems a few locals werent and thats what stopped it. I cant see how it would affect the mt vic residents association people that much, theres only a few houses in an intermediate proximity.
Looks like a good plan that NZTA came up with. I dont know if the decision is wrong or right but when you need to write something thats 572 pges long to try and justify the decisin, and perhaps your job then i think thats what the bigger problem is.