Home' The Wellingtonian : March 29th 2012 Contents 11
THE WELLINGTONIAN, MARCH 29, 2012
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McCully's extraordinary diplomacy
On its website, the Ministry
of Foreign Affairs and
Trade describes its role as
being to make New Zealand s
voice heard overseas, and contrib-
ute directly to the security and
well-being of all New Zealanders .
Yet if Foreign Affairs Minister
Murray McCully has his way, that
voice will be heard less loudly in
European capitals and our
diplomats will have fewer
resources to assist the security
and well-being of Kiwi travellers
in Europe and the Middle East.
Currently, McCully s pro-
gramme is in deep trouble. Only a
month ago, Ministry of Foreign
Affairs and Trade chief executive
restructuring plan to save $25
million by slashing 169 jobs at
home and 136 locally-hired staff
in our diplomatic posts abroad.
Behind the niceties of
consultancy-speak, the staff who
lead our trade and diplomatic
efforts abroad were essentially
being told that their skills and
experience were disposable and
that they d been overpaid and
expensively cosseted for years.
Amid the subsequent uproar,
the change managers steering the
process reportedly told stressed-
out staff to take a hot bath, pray,
pet s love is unconditional .
Last week McCully made a sud-
den U-turn and launched an
extraordinary public attack on the
officials executing the plan he had
initiated, despite the fact that
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and
Trade bosses had been in dis-
throughout the process , accord-
ing to a ministry spokesperson.
The gist of McCully s criticism
was that the reforms had turned
into a cost-cutting exercise across
the board, whereas, McCully
claimed, he d always wanted the
ministry to be switching its
resources from Europe to Asia.
Only about 150 jobs now seem
likely to be scrapped, mainly
within New Zealand.
However, more diplomatic posts
in Europe -- including Rome,
Madrid, The Hague and Paris --
could still be closed down or scaled
back, to shift resources to India,
China and other Asean (South-
East Asian) countries.
To many observers, it still
appeared highly shortsighted to
send such a clear signal to Europe
that our trade and diplomacy
links with the region no longer
matter much to us.
Other aspects of the Allen/
McCully plan will, apparently,
The current system of rotation
between diplomatic posts (which
is meant to create a stable career
path for diplomats and retain
their experience) would be
scrapped, allegedly to open up
career opportunities for younger
This policy, too, appears short-
sighted. It may save money to
turn diplomacy into a fixed-term
contract job, and younger
diplomats will certainly be
Diplomacy, however, is a club
where experience counts and
where the contacts earned
through that experience are all-
Will our young bright fellows
fresh from university be able to
function effectively in a context
where other countries still value
seniority? Probably not.
Moreover, once the new blood
realises they re likely to be thrown
to the wolves once their overseas
posting ends, our best and
brightest graduates will probably
think twice about a Ministry of
Foreign Affairs and Trade career.
Meanwhile, rather than pursu-
ing the contacts and initiatives
likely to further New Zealand s
interests abroad, our new breed of
diplomats could well decide to
focus on currying favour with the
people back home likely to deter-
mine their job prospects.
In the end, all the upheaval
may result in merely a different
kind of old boys club.
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,
all the Elliott St drivers turning
right into Kipling St, who
previously consistently failed to
give way to those turning right
out of Kipling St, 102 are now
legally entitled to do so.
That saves me having to put on
my cross face at least once a day.
However, to those of you who
still haven t come to terms with
the fact that several times a day
Kipling St becomes hopelessly
congested with school and
kindergarten traffic, you may
actually have to be considerate
and preferably polite to other
drivers also trying to get through.
Please use a different road.
For those of us who live on
Kipling St and have no choice but
to be considerate, it is a bit
annoying also having to put up
with your bad attitudes.
Bus services proposals run into
more problems (March 22), was
predictable, given the massive
Before beginning the review,
Wellington Regional Council
should first have implemented,
jointly with Wellington City
Council, the following three vital
steps toward facilitating the
movement of buses throughout
the entire city:
Commission the traffic-light
pre-emption equipment already
on all buses, so that buses
approaching traffic lights
automatically cause the lights to
Ban all traffic from the Golden
Mile in the morning and afternoon
peak periods, except buses and
emergency services vehicles.
Complete the installation of
all possible bus-only lanes.
After a settling-in period for
testing the benefits of these steps,
the two councils, and the public,
could then decide if such wide-
ranging proposed changes to our
bus services should be considered.
J CHRIS HORNE
John Wilson (March 22) doesn t
believe that car numbers on our
roads have started to decline. It
appears he has a bad case of
If he wants to gain a good
understanding of what is
happening, he should read the
Ministry of Transport s excellent
annual report Vehicle Fleet
In a nutshell, although we are
ranked No 2 in the world for cars
per capita, we are No 32 in GDP
Now that the supply of super-
cheap Japanese used imports has
dried up, it is clear we have more
cars than we can sustain. Hence,
our fleet of old cars is growing
older and has started to decline.
The Transmission Gully
motorway will cost more than $1
At a discount rate of 8 per cent
the cost will be $80 million per
annum, or $1 million every five
days. If there are 20,000 round
trips per day, the cost per round
trip on this dream road will be
more than $10, or $50 per week
for commuters. Tolls anyone?
However, I do agree that we
need an alternative western route
out of Wellington. Fortunately
two-thirds of it already exists in
the form of the Hutt Road then
SH58 to Pauatahanui.
By building a 15km two-lane
connecting road from
Pauatahanui over Transmission
Gully to MacKays Crossing we
can obtain a second road north
and double the overall capacity of
the Wellington to MacKays sector,
all for $100 million.
That adds up to $900 million we
don t need to borrow.
Tony Randall (March 15) is right
about public transport transfers .
Thankfully, the Auckland super
council enabling legislation had a
clause in it that plans are to be
evidence-based and contestable .
This requirement needs to be
applied by the Beehive, to all
councils in New Zealand. This
would go a long way to overcoming
the cost over-runs that are
The Johnsonville rail line has to
be one of the world s most
institutions. It cannot possibly, in
centuries, provide benefit
commensurate with the cost over
and above alternatives, if indeed
it does even provide such
The evidence is that a busway
would be far more relevant to the
commuting public, because buses
and even community vans could
pick up commuters over a wide
area and simply drive on to the
busway for a rapid trip into the
No transfers. And far lower
The evidence is that rails have
lost their relevance to the way
urban form evolves.
Rolling resistance is a minor
issue in considering the efficiency
of a complete urban economic
Canals were once the most
competitive form of inland
transport; we happily moved on
What is it about trains?
Clickety clack bedtime stories
from childhood still giving
otherwise rational grown-ups
The recently-deceased Owen
McShane once used the choice
term world s most expensive
historic re-enactment society .
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