Home' The Wellingtonian : March 22nd 2012 Contents 9
THE WELLINGTONIAN, MARCH 22, 2012
Speeches offer more heat than light
For all the media hoopla
before the event -- they re
ready to rumble! etc -- the
simultaneous speechmaking by
John Key and David Shearer last
week fell a good deal short of the
Thrilla in Manila.
Rather than try to batter each
other into submission, both
leaders ended up blowing air
kisses to the legions of moderate
voters who -- at least according to
the spin doctors -- might be fright-
ened away by anything too
Ultimately, Prime Minister
John Key virtually limited himself
in his speech to a reshuffle of four
existing arms of government into
a single business-facing super
ministry to be headed by Econ-
omic Development Minister
The usual job cuts and budget
reductions seem set to follow.
To no-one s surprise, business
lobbyists such as Phil O Reilly,
chief executive of Business New
Zealand, expressed delight at the
prospect of a business-facing
ministry headed by Joyce,
Cabinet s heaviest hitter.
He will co-ordinate and solely
command the functions of econ-
omic development, innovation,
housing and employment.
Shearer s speech had a lot more
riding on it than a departmental
merger, and Labour s minders had
talked up his speech beforehand.
The speech was supposed to jus-
tify the slow start to the year
made by Labour, under its new
Moreover, it had been heralded
as a launching pad for Labour s
new direction, offering not only
fresh insights into the personal
philosophy of the still relatively
unknown Labour leader, but also
signalling how today s party will
differentiate itself from the
Labour Party that Phil Goff led
into the last election.
Finally, the speech was to begin
the long task of positioning
Labour as a credible alternative
Obviously, no single speech
could accomplish all of that heavy
Yet the speech fell so far short
as to bemuse most observers.
Why talk up something bound
to undershoot all of its alleged
The discernible content came
down to Labour sticking with a
capital gains tax on all but the
There was also a strong sugges-
tion that Labour is intending to
dump last year s election policy of
foregoing tax from the first $5000
Something could also be
gleaned from what, for now, went
largely left unsaid.
Shearer hinted, for example, at
taking a tougher stance on wel-
fare reform, whereby Labour
would support government giving
a nudge to those beneficiaries
not pulling their weight.
These few scraps of substance
came wrapped in a highly user-
Labour, you may be astounded
to hear, supports this country
becoming more tech-savvy.
It is also in favour of everyone
working hard, working smart,
looking after their kids, and being
part of a brighter New Zealand
future, where effort is fairly
Just how these laudable aims
are to be realised, as Key pointed
out, was left unsaid.
For now, both major parties
seem intent on couching their
aims in the least alienating way
Wherever possible, the difficult
content will be left to their
As one Australian analyst said
of our 2008 election, the resulting
campaign for votes came down to
the equivalent of an argument
over whose turn it was to take out
If he plays his cards
inoffensively enough, David
Shearer is plainly hoping that by
2014, his turn will have come.
The Wellingtonian welcomes
letters. Please supply name,
address and day phone number.
No pseudonyms. Preferred
maximum length 200 words.
Letters may be edited. Preference
is given to letters responding to
issues raised in The Wellingtonian.
Send your letters to PO Box 3740,
Great editorial about Jock Hobbs
What a loss for the country and
especially rugby. He must have
been the most influential rugby
administrator in New Zealand, if
not the world, in his lifetime.
The problem with
the Maori flag
Re your letter from Mr Seymour
(March 15), is he being ingenuous
or disingenuous in apparently
missing the point about why
councillor Ahipene-Mercer and
others have objected to that Maori
flag, and perhaps any Maori flag,
being the usual or only flag flown
over the Wellington Town Hall?
The first point is that it has
been an activist flag that doesn t
represent the whole Maori
Second, it doesn t represent
non-Maori citizens, or citizens of
The Maori population of
Wellington and New Zealand is
very much a minority -- less than
20 per cent.
So is he telling us that the flag
of a minority within a minority is
the only one that ought to be
flown over our town hall, perhaps
to take precedence over all other
flags throughout New Zealand?
His letter seems to be begging
the question, by asking us to take
that as axiomatic and beyond
John Harding (March 15) wants
Transmission Gully as a two-lane
road with passing bays similar to
State Highway 2 north of Upper
Hutt, despite the much higher
volume of traffic on SH1.
Separation of traffic is needed
on our main route north, and the
two lanes with passing sections
of SH1 north of Paraparaumu and
the River Road section of SH2 to
Upper Hutt have proved
dangerous, with impatient drivers
trying to pass too late on the
Forward visibility on a two-lane
road following the curves and
contours of the gully route would
not be good.
And the traffic to the truncated
Transmission Gully from
Pauatahanui to Mackays Crossing
would still have to go via the
roundabout and SH58 to
Traffic levels are increasing, as
Murray Carpenter indicated, and
I doubt that car imports (new or
used) are about to stop.
I feel a certain sympathy with H
Westfold (March 15) concerning
the move from people-based
interaction to technology-based.
But it s not just banks.
Supermarkets now ask us to
scan our purchases, airlines ask
us to check-in online and label
and drop our own bags, and bus
companies ask us to swipe our
payment cards rather than talk to
Humans are social beings yet
now tend to socialise via computer
rather than face-to-face.
I run a Wellington singles social
club and it s great to see our
members chatting away, having
fun and enjoying each others
company at our events.
While technology has its place,
it s a very uplifting experience
having a proper conversation with
someone who wants to talk with
you, who is interested in your
opinions, who may turn out to be
a kindred spirit and who may
become a lifelong friend.
Can anyone suggest a solution to
For the past three weeks the
city council contractors have
failed to collect my recycling
They are fully justified in
refusing to empty the bins since
generous passers-by have placed
their rubbish in them.
My home is strategically placed
roughly half way between Pak n
Save and Rongotai College.
As all the rubbish placed in bins
consists of aluminium containers,
chicken bones, cardboard chip
containers and creamed rice tins,
I am convinced the offenders are
Rongotai College pupils.
Approached directly, the boys
are cheerful, courteous and co-
operative. However, at nearly 90,
I cannot stand on sentry duty
every Friday to ensure my
recycling bins are emptied.
A courteous notice attached to
the bins was ripped off.
I approached Rongotai College
about this problem last year.
Wellington s mayor and her
councillors, like many other city
councils in our fair country,
appear to have lost sight of why
they are there.
The core issues they should be
addressing are water supply,
waste water infrastructure,
sewage, rubbish collection, traffic,
sensible road planning, street
cleaning, chasing up the leaky
homes problem and earthquake
strengthening of edifices where
Sculptures, monuments to
themselves, stadiums, new logos,
Te Papa, and countless claims for
funding by those representing
the arts are all very good and in
some places commendable, but
let s get the priorities right.
I am a staunch advocate of our
youth, sport and leisure
programmes, nice parks and play
areas, funded school breakfasts
and lunches, but to what avail if
the water and sewerage needs are
not addressed first? RON BLAIR
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