Yes, we could play the blame game, but look on the bright side – Transmission Gully expressway will soon be open for traffic

One of  New Zealand ’s  great  construction projects  will soon be  open for  traffic.  It  is  the Transmission  Gully  expressway   over  27km north  of  Wellington  from Porirua to  connect  with  the  expressway  south of  Paraparaumu  through to  Otaki.

Wellingtonians  familiar  with  the  Centennial  Highway  (the  sole  highway  at present to the  north  out of  the capital) that dates back to  the  days  of  Labour’s  great roadbuilder, Bob Semple, have  been frustrated   with the  delays  stretching   the  construction period  far  beyond the  original timeline.

Yet  the  blame  game for  the  delays  cannot  disguise  this  project is  an  engineering  marvel   that  will alleviate the traffic bottleneck that  often chokes traffic  moving  to  and  from the  capital.

The four-lane  expressway  will  be  a  particular  boon  for the  heavy traffic  vehicles   that have  become  an essential element in the  supply  chain.  It cuts  through  what  was extremely difficult  terrain   and  those  who have seen  it  from  the  air  say  it  is  a spectacular  achievement  for  the  roadbuilders. Continue reading “Yes, we could play the blame game, but look on the bright side – Transmission Gully expressway will soon be open for traffic”

Acclaim for the PM boosts Labour in the polls – but voters may not be so kind as the recession bites

Reports   have been   circulating in Wellington  of  sampling  by  pollsters    which  show   support  for  Labour climbing   into  the 49-51%   range  and  for  National  slumping to  the  low 30’s.

To those enraptured by the  “kindness”  of the  Prime  Minister    and  impressed  by  the government’s  performance  during  the  Covid-19 pandemic, a  result like that would be  no   surprise.  Many  New Zealanders rejoice in the plaudits which overseas media heap on Jacinda  Ardern  as a  “world leader”   who  is  outperforming  her  peers in other countries.

An influential American magazine, The  Atlantic,  described Ardern as maybe the  most  effective  leader  on  the  planet.

In contrast, there is consistent criticism  of  Opposition   Leader  Simon  Bridges  from some  media   figures.   Left-wing  blogs come alive with speculation  of  a  coup   any   day   within the  National  caucus.

So is the forthcoming  election  one  that  an  Opposition  party   might  want to lose? Continue reading “Acclaim for the PM boosts Labour in the polls – but voters may not be so kind as the recession bites”

Some Labour strategists may agree with Peters that the election should be delayed

NZ First leader Winston Peters today said he wants the election held on November 21,  Radio  NZ   reported.  He says he believes  the health system would be under the pump in September with the winter flu season and the country potentially still dealing with the impacts of Covid-19.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the September election date before the Covid-19 pandemic began.

Peters said he had fought for the November date originally, because his party believed summer elections were better, but given the pressures of Covid-19 he will again raise delaying it by two months.

“Having a good look at it now and with the compounding problems of coronavirus and all the distractions and efforts going in elsewhere, perhaps the sound thing is to say November 21 is the right date and we should go ahead then,” he said. Continue reading “Some Labour strategists may agree with Peters that the election should be delayed”

The PM dances on a pin about funding furore – but she can’t waltz away from the question of her govt’s integrity

Are  ministers  in   Jacinda  Ardern’s  coalition   beginning  to  live  in  a  dreamworld  of their  own,  distant  from  the  one  where ordinary  New Zealanders  live?

In Parliament, in answer to patsy questions from their own  backbenchers, they  congratulate   themselves  on  their  extraordinary  ( as it  seems to them)  achievements. They  appear  supremely  unconscious  of or oblivious to the  world  most  New Zealanders inhabit.  And this week   they were   doing  their best  to  ignore   the   raging  furnace  torching  NZ  First.

It’s  possible  they were  yawning because  they had  heard it  all before.

But other  NZers found  the allegations  of  financial shenanigans inside  the structure of  NZ  First disturbing.

Stuff reports  the  NZ  First Foundation received 26 donations of $325,900 in just a five month period, adding:

Donors to the foundation include food manufacturers, racing interests, forestry owners and wealthy property developers.”    Continue reading “The PM dances on a pin about funding furore – but she can’t waltz away from the question of her govt’s integrity”

The Nats won’t want Jones fired – not when voters would be robbed of the chance to bridle at being wooed with public funds

Cabinet  Minister  Shane  Jones   is under fire  for  promising  utu against the whistleblower  who told the NZ Herald about his comments at the forestry awards evening.

Jones, adopting Donald Trump’s technique, says he knows who went to the Herald and he’s going to “deal to them”.

“When the election comes around and the Cabinet restrictions have been loosened, then I am personally going to deal to these National Party sympathisers who thought that it was a smart idea to try and have me quivering in a corner by racing to the media.At the appropriate time, I will deal to them as a big-time, NZ First wrestler.”

Commentators  as   diverse  as  Peter  Dunne   and   Heather du Plessis-Allan reckon he has  over-stepped  the mark. Continue reading “The Nats won’t want Jones fired – not when voters would be robbed of the chance to bridle at being wooed with public funds”

Oh, mother – another dose of jacindamania, but things have changed since the first bout

A fresh wave of jacindamania swept through the media as  the Prime Minister returned from maternity leave.  The event  stirred   headlines  round the world – the  BBC rated it up  there  with the post-election riots in Harare and Donald  Trump’s latest tweet, while  at  home  Radio  NZ’s  John  Campbell  let fly with  one of  his effusive gushes.

NZ, it  is  clear,  has  a  political phenomenon to  reckon with:  no other leader of our country has  commanded such global  attention. The  style  with  which Ardern  manages governing with motherhood is  indeed  remarkable.

She  comes  back  to  the  Beehive  at a  testing time.  The   mood  of the  country  has  changed  sharply  in the  six weeks  she has been absent. Continue reading “Oh, mother – another dose of jacindamania, but things have changed since the first bout”

Why the Greenies may be browned off with their party of principle

When Labour  went into coalition  with  NZ  First, it  seemed   astute  on the part of the Greens to back it on confidence and supply in exchange for  ministerial  positions. The Greens believed they  would be able to achieve several of their major policy  goals, without  suffering the fate of other small parties  suffocated  in the embrace of a  major party  in the process of governing  the country.

So how is it looking less than nine months into the term?  The  assessment is far from favourable:  the Greens  have  scored  enough own-goals to  dismay even onetime champions  like Sue  Bradford.

Any  government starts losing  votes   from  the day  it takes office.  For the Greens, as polls show, leakage of support has been on a scale which could threaten  the party’s survival  at  the next election. Continue reading “Why the Greenies may be browned off with their party of principle”