Friday, April 30, 2010

Parliamentary Select C'ttee fed rubbish by local MP on rail service - and regurtitates same!

Parliament's Transport & Industrial Relations Select Committee - chaired by Hamilton East Govt MP David Bennett has dismissed with no hearing an 11,500-strong petition supporting a Hamilton-Auckland rail service out of hand - after being fed untrue information about it, presumably by the Chair, as the only local MP on the Committee [Report below]

"The Transport and Industrial Relations Committee has considered Petition 2008/73 of Sue Moroney and 11,499 others, requesting that the House of Representatives ask the Government and related transport agencies to establish a passenger rail service between Hamilton and Auckland. The majority of us note that this service has recently been considered by the relevant local authorities and they decided not to establish such a service at this time, and therefore we have no matters to bring to the attention of the House.
The Labour and Green Party members support the petition of Sue Moroney and 11,499 others requesting that the House of Representatives ask the Government and related transport agencies to establish a passenger rail service between Hamilton and Auckland. We wanted to hear a submission from the petitioners so that we could consider their proposal. We also wanted to hear a response from the Ministry of Transport, so that the committee could assess the viability of such a service being established.

David Bennett was told in April this year (in front of about 50 witnesses) that not only did Hamilton City Council support the service, it had allocated significant funds as its share towards the establishment costs, AND that the Regional Council (Environment Waikato) had t he service specifically listed in its current Regional Land Transport Strategy. In addition, EW, HCC and the Waikato District Council have all yet to consider a number of submissions received (but not yet heard) in support of the rail service to Auckland.

A classic case of political porkies being told by an MP who plays fast and loose with the truth!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

24/7 Liquor Ban a bridge too far?

A debate is looming in Hamilton over a proposal from a Council Committee to ban the consumption of liquor in public 24 hours a day, 7 days a week [see: for details on the reasons for this].

An alternative proposal, which has unfortunately not yet been put out for public consideration is to change the 24 hours to a ban just between 10pm and 6am.

There is no doubt there is a liquor problem in various areas around the city that needs to have some action taken on it. The liquor companies and some retailers don't seem to care about the affects on communities of their unbridled promotion of liquor sales, especially to young people. Public safety is often at risk because of the effects of excess liquor consumption.

But is a 24/7 ban the answer? Respectfully I don't think so. The Police themselves are happy with the 10pm-6am ban option, which they say covers the worst problem times. Good, law-abiding Hamiltonians - maybe having a wine with their family picnic beside the Lake - will be penalised by what is probably an over-reaction to a very real problem. Should the police turn a blind eye to this, but then turn around and arrest a 20-year old with a can hin his hand and wearing a hoodie?

What do you think? Have a vote in the voting section on the left....

Church College Buildings to remain?

Its looking increasingly like the LDS Church top hierarchy has moved to pull their property arm into line, and halt or slow down their mad rush to demolish the historic Church College buildings.

The word coming out of Templeview is that the buildings will remain, and that appropriate alternative uses are being looked at for much of the school.

If correct, this is a good thing, and a great reminder that communities sticking to their guns can eventually win the day!

Friday, April 23, 2010

David Bennett should remember he's there to represent Hamilton

City Councillor Peter Bos is absolutely right to lambast the Ministry of Education and, by inference, Hamilton East MP David Bennett for delays to the building of the long-promised Rototuna High School. David Bennett needs to remember he's been put down in Parliament by Hamilton East residents to represent them, and to advocate for their needs - NOT to explain away why the Government is going to back off on providing this much-needed community facility for another 5-6 years.

Bennett's reluctance to go into bat for his own electorate might win brownie points in Wellington, but will go down like a cup of cold sick in Hamilton. It comes on top of his attacks on the proposed passenger rail service between Hamilton and Auckland (see 11,500 can't be wrong below), and his support for the Huntly Bypass section of the Waikato Expressway to be built before the Hamilton Bypass. Whose side are you on, David?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Govt's 'unbalanced' transport spending criticised

Sue Moroney is absolutely correct to ask the Waikato Regional Transport Committee to support its own policy and ‘fight’ for a balanced approach to transport funding.

The massively increased Government expenditure on state highways, coupled with reduced spending on public transport, cycling and walking and even kid’s road safety education, provides an unbalanced transport solution, will inevitably lead to big increases in costs for Hamilton ratepayers in future years, as more roads and less alternatives breed more calls for more roads, etc.

Yes, it’s been good to see the Expressway completion in sight, but it becomes less good when every other transport jam jar is being raided simply to give Waikato residents a 10-minute quicker trip to meet Auckland’s gridlock.

Those telling forward-thinking people to shut up about buses, trains & cycles “otherwise the Expressway might be in jeopardy” had better brush up arguments to use against those caught in traffic jams in Hamilton East, made worse by the fact there is no subsidy available to fund extra Orbiter buses, meaning kids left behind by overfull buses and parents choosing to add their cars to the traffic chaos because there is no other way to get little Johnny to school.

The Chair of the Regional Transport Committee, Norm Barker, needs to realise that the Waikato is definitely NOT UNITED in support of the Govt's cutbacks in all transport spending other than the Expressway - his job is to advocate for the interests of ALL Waikato residents and communities - so far, Hamilton's transport needs in most areas have not received the support they deserve!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Minister's public transport cherry-picking proposal puts services at risk

Transport Minister Steven Joyce has kick-started a Ministry of Transport review of Public Transport by calling for increased commercialisation of bus, train & ferry services.

His idea, supported by the bus owner-dominated Public Transport Leadership Forum, is to free up private PT operators to 'cherry-pick' profitable peak-hour/high volume services, leaving local authorities and ratepayers to fund the rest of the PT timetable.

This will inevitably lead to cutbacks in timetables and routes, as networks like Hamilton's lose the ability to cross-subsidise across different services. It is also likely to mean local authorities will lose control over the setting of fares.

Local authorities responsible for PT are increasingly turning to the 'gross contract' system, where private operators are contracted to run a route (covering all trips during the day), or a group of routes, and all the revenue from ticket sales goes to the local authority.

Waikato has run this system for many years, which has strongly contributed to the largest % growth in PT in the country.

Particularly in Auckland, private PT operators have had a history of jumping in to run profitable services and withdrawing from less profitable ones, leaving passengers in the lurch, causing major planning problems, and meaning ratepayers have to try and pick up the pieces.

The Minister's bright idea will be like Groundhog Day for all those who have worked to develop PT in New Zealand into a more planned, sustainable and fair system.