Home' The Wellingtonian : July 19th 2012 Contents 11
THE WELLINGTONIAN, JULY 19, 2012
Water issue strains political ties
How long a political issue
stays in the headlines
depends a lot on whether
Parliament is in session at the
Unfortunately for Prime Minis-
ter John Key, the recent parlia-
mentary recess meant that there
was no ready escape or diversion
available when controversy erup-
ted last week over who holds the
ownership rights to the water
being used by the very same state
energy companies that he is about
to put on the auction block.
The issue dominated the news
agenda for well over a week,
which is an eternity in the normal
cycle of political spin.
The kerfuffle was triggered by
Key s observation that his govern-
ment was under no obligation to
abide by the Waitangi Tribunal s
rulings on water rights.
Probably, this innocent state-
ment of fact was intended to
reassure any nervous foreign
investors waiting in the wings.
Given the way Key expressed
himself, however, the implication
was that the partial asset sales
would go ahead regardless of what
the Waitangi Tribunal thought
about it, one way or the other.
The sense of disrespect put the
Maori Party on the spot, as an
Therefore, Key has since needed
to offer a few expressions of
humbled respect, while the Maori
Party has needed to be seen as the
staunch defender of the tribunal s
mana -- hopefully, without this
belated display of sensitivity get-
ting in the way of the business at
National clearly thought it
could flannel its way through any
of the potential Treaty problems
to do with water rights, and that
says quite a lot about how captive
it regards the Maori Party as
being to the coalition, and to
whatever National chooses to do.
As an aside, the situation also
underlines the tactical mistake
Maori Party co-leader Tariana
Turia has made in putting all of
the Maori Party s eggs into the
one Whanau Ora basket.
She now appears to be a captive
of John Key, even more visibly
than she was to Helen Clark. (Sec-
ond marriages tend to break down
for the same old reasons.)
A break with National still
seems inevitable, eventually.
If the proximity to National is
proving difficult for Turia to man-
age now, just wait until her Maori
constituents begin to feel the full
fallout from asset sales, and from
Ultimately, the water rights
issue may yet prove to be the deal
breaker, given that any bill for
compensation finally advocated by
the tribunal would not be a negli-
If the new owners of the state
energy assets finally do have to
pay for the rights to use water,
those costs will be recovered from
consumers, thus turning an
already unpopular policy into pol-
Key has different suitors to
To prospective investors in the
state assets, he has to be able to
guarantee that there will be no
impediments when it comes to the
business of extracting profits.
Simultaneously, he has to con-
vince voters that this is (a) a good
deal and that (b) he knows what
he s doing.
On both counts, he has some
lost ground to make up.
The ownership status of water
is crucial to the functioning of
these assets -- we re talking about
hydro power, right?
Really, how hard was it to fore-
see that this could pose a problem,
further down the track?
The Wellingtonian welcomes
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maximum length 200 words.
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is given to letters responding to
issues raised in The Wellingtonian.
Send your letters to PO Box 3740,
during which time there were 11
pedestrian deaths and 123
associated serious injuries.
From my recollection, after the
first of four pedestrian deaths and
many serious injuries attributed
to the narrowing of Manners St
and nearby streets from 2007 to
2011, there was a news article
concerning Mr Foster as the
council s transport portfolio
leader. Mr Foster said council
engineers had informed
councillors that narrowing streets
Apparently 11 pedestrian
deaths and 123 serious injuries
did not deter councillor Foster
from his publicised pet project
( The buses are the priority ) of
narrowing Wellington s CBD
Also from memory, articles
record Mr Foster s knowledge of
his council department s refusal to
install the necessary pedestrian
safety measures, which may have
saved the deaths and injuries
from 2007 to 2011.
Mr Foster seems guilty of being
perceived as a danger to
Wellington children and
one morning last week, I was
twice almost crashed into by
aggressive, inconsiderate drivers
with very poor control of their
heavy, dangerous cars.
Please can the council start
installing segregated bicycle lanes
so that people who want to get
around this fine city by bike do
not have to mix with dangerous
idiots like these.
Installing segregated bike lanes
makes getting around by bike
incredibly safe and appealing for
everyone, including those who
haven t ridden a bike in years.
Sydney s doing it. New York s
doing it. The Netherlands started
40 years ago. When will
Wellington catch up? A JONES
right to choose?
Does Joanna Tang (letters, July
12 ) perhaps come from China?
The tone of her letter is as
politically correct as goes with a
Marxist regime: she tells us
abortion is axiomatically right --
there can be no debate on it
In China, seemingly, a pregnant
woman has no right to choose if
she has already had one child, but
gets an abortion whether or not
she wants one -- some choice!
And the same applies generally
there: you are not allowed to
argue with authority.
But in any case, who says only
women are qualified to pronounce
on whether abortion in general is
either right or wrong?
On that principle, we could
allow only murderers to say
whether murder is okay, and
could give them the right to
No, a woman does not have the
right to abort her unborn child.
This is not controlling her own
body , but the murder of another
human being within her body.
Yes to red
Red light cameras are an effective
road safety measure (July 12).
Bring em on.
Compliance with red lights and
stop signs is poor in Wellington.
Only one in three vehicles came to
a complete stop at a Cuba St
intersection I surveyed.
And for the record, Cycling
Advocates Network is doing its
share. We ran a Respect: Stop at
Red campaign aimed at reducing
crashes and improving the status
of cycling in the eyes of the public.
It s pretty simple to avoid being
pinged: stop at red, and show
common courtesy.PATRICK MORGAN
Cycling Advocates Network
The extent of consultation by the
airport was to ring me 12 hours
before the embargo was lifted to
the media. A week later the
airport sought a meeting. Why, I
don t know, because no changes
The new design would
incorporate 19 barriers to be
traversed by the public. Through
traffic would be provided with a
five-minute grace, the same as
what was already in place; and
that was that.
Historically, access through
Stewart Duff Dr from Moa Point
Rd and Broadway was always
available before it was Calabar Rd
under the guidance of the
Wellington Airport Authority.
How and why was the public
excluded from the process for the
airport to claim a 100 per cent
Seldom has autocratic power
been demonstrated in this country
with such conceited self-centred
arrogance and disdain.
The public s customary right
and unabated access to this road
cannot be removed regardless of
whether it was being utilised as a
"short cut" or not.
Since when has a public road
been the subject of providing a
reason to use it? STAN ANDIS
Strathmore Park Progressive
I really appreciate Gordon
Campbell s column, and
particularly his good sense in
looking at international analyses
of how well, or not, private/public
partnerships work (July 12).
When we find out that it has
cost Britain up to 12 times the
original amount to enter into
these deals with private
contractors, we can really wonder
what our Government does with
the information from its policy
and research arms.
It doesn t make financial sense.
Maybe, it is as a minister once
famously said, about charging for
hospital stays: It doesn t matter
it it doesn t pay, what s important
is the principle .
At that time the principle was,
no-one should get something for
nothing -- forgetting that we
taxpayers had already paid for
our health service, of course.
So what is the principle now?
Better that private companies
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