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THE WELLINGTONIAN, MAY 17, 2012
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A case of history repeating itself?
The striking similarities
between the Helen Clark
and John Key Governments
continue to unfold.
In both cases, after nine years
of the previous Government, a
landslide victory gave Clark and
Key first terms in which they
could do no wrong, and a hapless
new leader of the Opposition who
could do nothing right.
Then, in the second term almost
everything suddenly began to go
wrong, and the Opposition
changed its leader.
In both cases, the Opposition
brought in a likeable fellow who
everyone said was a nice guy, but
It remains to be seen whether
David Shearer can do what Don
Brash just failed to manage, and
topple the Government at the end
of its second term.
Even with hindsight, it is diffi-
cult to see the tipping point for the
Clark administration, where
hard-edged competence came to
be seen as cold arrogance.
Similarly with Key, historians
may struggle to pinpoint just
when the public began to regard
his easy-going manner as a mask
for an inner, empty complacency.
As yet, the polls do not indicate
a mass rejection of either the Gov-
ernment or its leader, but the sec-
ond term blues have certainly hit
the current Government with a
Since the Parliamentary year
began in February, there has
barely been a week without a self-
inflicted crisis, whether it be in
ACC, the Foreign Affairs Minis-
try, or with the Government's
hapless coalition partner, ACT.
Meanwhile, between up to 75
per cent of the public continue to
oppose asset sales, which the Gov-
ernment has made the signature
policy of its second term.
A sense of competence is an
elusive thing in politics.
New Zealanders can cope with a
fair level of arrogance so long as
they feel there is a safe pair of
hands minding the store.
It was not as if Robert Muldoon,
for instance, got any more or less
likeable over the years -- it was
only when the myth of his com-
petence became seriously in ques-
tion that his administration
started to unravel.
So far, only the usual suspects
on the left and the hardliners on
the right are questioning Key's
apparent lack of any coherent
plan for economic growth.
If and when that disquiet
spreads further, Key could well
find himself facing the same
as his political
doppelganger, David Cameron,
now faces in Britain.
It is one thing to be heartless,''
as British Labour leader Ed Mil-
liband recently put it, but if you
are heartless and hopeless, you
are in trouble.''
Exactly. For most of the first
term of the Key Government, the
Opposition tried to portray Key as
being heartless -- a charge that
patently didn't fit the easy-going,
ever-responsive prime minister.
Yet as memories of its own
record in office fade, Labour and
its new leader have far more
chance of making the hopeless''
part of the accusation stick.
But is Shearer the man to drive
home that harsh heartless/hope-
Possibly not. In which case, the
uncanny parallels could continue.
After all, the replacement for
the nice try, but not good enough''
Brash was Key, his lieutenant on
Similarly, Shearer's lieutenant
on economic development is David
Cunliffe, who looks more than
capable right now of nailing the
Government's alleged sins of
The Wellingtonian welcomes
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issues raised in The Wellingtonian.
Send your letters to PO Box 3740,
better informed by reading the
report by Paul M Weyrich and
William S Lind of the Free
Congress Foundation issued in
July 2001 -- Twelve Anti-Transit
Myths: a Conservative Critique --
which demolishes the stance
taken by those who see light rail
as the devil incarnate.
As for Mike Williams, your
concerns are easily answered by
Living in Tawa you will be
better informed about what the
introduction of light rail in the
form of tram-trains will mean for
those who use the trains and each
day have to decamp at the main
railway station before either
walking to the central business
district or catching buses south.
Why more roads
isn't the answer
Studies in the 1990s proved that
Wellington had long exceeded the
required traffic density to justify
an extension of its rail system
south, even if Phil Hayward is not
A massive population is not
needed -- some of the most
successful light rail systems serve
cities with population size and
topography similar to
Hayward's obsessive urge to
create yet more road capacity
takes no account of our lack of
space and the resultant
unliveability of cities that have
taken that course and are now
And does Mike Williams really
think the Swiss, Germans and
French are too poor to own cars?
Their low incidence of car
ownership is the result, not the
cause, of their excellent rail-based
We have become dependent on
cars simply because our public
transport is inadequate.
Light rail advocates are not
proffering a network similar to
Melbourne's but rather a high-
capacity trunk rail line, with bus
or minibus feeder services,
serving the less densely populated
areas. DEMETRIUS CHRISTOFOROU
I refer to the study into the merits
of long-term, high-quality public
transport options outlined by the
Wellington Regional Council. If
the options are only for travelling
between Wellington Railway
Station and Wellington Regional
Hospital, then upgrading the
existing bus system seems the
only financially viable option.
The option of heavy or light rail
is really worth considering only if
it goes all the way to the airport.
That option would definitely be
worth considering if the airport
had more people travelling as
result of direct flights to Asia.
There have been airport rail
links in Europe and elsewhere for
decades because they are a faster
way for people and freight to
travel into the city centre and to
make connections to other places.
Regarding your article All Blacks
of a different kind'' (May 10).
Although not a New Zealand
team, I know of a famous
Aboriginal cricket team (known as
the All Blacks) that toured
England in 1868. I don't know if
they were the first to have that
Their star all-rounder was
Johnny Mullagh and another
player, King Cole, died from
tuberculosis during the tour. The
coach and manager was former
Surrey professional Charles
A poem commemorates them in
Leslie Frewin's The Poetry of
It was interesting to see your
front page story (May 10) touting
Annette King as a Wellington
mayoral contender. Your article
was based on commentators who
were either opponents of Celia
Wade-Brown, leading Labour MPs
or Paul Eagle, who made
statements such as there has
been considerable talk'' about it.
This is not fair to Celia Wade-
Brown, the best mayor Wellington
has had in recent history.
It reeked of a privileged few
sitting around deciding what
would be best for our democracy.
Ms King has had 27 years living
at the public's expense and should
call it a day.
Your example of Fran Wilde
says it all. If ever someone needed
to retire gracefully, it is her.
Celia Wade-Brown is a great
mayor because she sits across the
traditional right/left divide. She is
forced to go for consensus and
push ideas instead of relying on
historical allegiances.CURTIS NIXON
I have seen cars being tagged in
Island Bay and am perplexed by
the whole tagging phenomenon.
I appreciate much of the graffiti
In many cases it brightens up
concrete, dark buildings and it is
good to see people expressing
themselves artistically (when it is
Tagging, on the other hand, is
just signing your name in lots of
places, the equivalent of animals
urinating to show other animals
they have been there.
It seems to require no artistic
skill or thought and minimal
effort, and appears to be done by
people who wish to do something
anti-social, but lack the courage to
do so in the open and justify
If any of those cowardly name
signers read this paper, I would be
interested to hear whether they
think their actions have any
artistic, or other, merit. If not, can
you stop or do something more
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