Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Joyce's bad on trains - needs to talk to us to get his facts straight

The admission by Transport Minister Stephen Joyce that he had got his facts wildly wrong last week in Parliament while slagging off the proposed Hamilton – Auckland passenger rail service has led to an invitation being issued for him to visit Hamilton and discuss “facts, not prejudices”.

Hamilton City Council Transport Committee Chair Dave Macpherson, one of many locals supporting the commencement of the rail service, said “it’s always disappointing when a senior Government Minister is so hell-bent on attacking something that he lets his mouth run away on him without checking the facts.”

Stephen Joyce had claimed in answer to a Parliamentary question last week that it would cost $15,000 per trip to subsidise each rail passenger – an answer that he has now admitted was wrong by a factor of several hundred!

“While we are pleased that Minister Joyce has corrected himself – he did after all gets his claims of $15,000 per passenger subsidy dramatically wrong – we are disturbed that he didn’t check first with his own departmental officials, let alone Waikato people supporting the service, before shooting his mouth off.”

“Supporters of the rail service, which even Minister Joyce has agreed will happen at some stage, have had to put up with a lot of deliberate misinformation about the cost of the service, some of it from local Government MP David Bennett.”

“All we ask for is the same level of support rail services in Auckland and Wellington get, or bus services around the country, for the rail service – if we get that, the service will be more than viable.”

“To help Minister Joyce get his facts straight, I’d like to invite him up to Hamilton to get a personal briefing on the actual cost, as proposed by his own KiwiRail company, as well as to get a flavour of the high degree of local support.”

“Minister Joyce is doing a good job on transport safety and building big roads, but for a pragmatic person he seems to have a blind spot about a few other things!”

Friday, July 23, 2010

Valentines back-down a credit to Hamilton community

The stupid decision by Valentines restaurant in Hamilton, and the Grassroots Pokie Trust, to try and place 9 pokie machines in the 'family' restaurant, has thankfully been taken off the agenda - for now.

After a public outcry, and a very good Waikato Times article, Valentines saw they were on a hiding to nothing and wisely pulled their head in.

They lamely claimed they had just discovered they didn't have room to fit the pokies in - Yeah, right! And they didn't check this sort of thing first? I don't think so!

The truth is that they wanted to get some extra income from the pokie 'site rentals' to bolster their sagging financial fortunes, and they were advised of a loophole that might allow the machines by their experienced hired gun lawyer Jarrod True, who fronts pokie applications and pokie rule liberalisation around the country.

And Hamilton City Council's planners didn't help things by stuffing up the public application/submission process - first advertising it under a completely incorrect section of the law, then getting the submisssion closing date wrong!

Thanks to Aaron Woolley (Like Minds, Like Mine) and the Problerm Gambling Foundation for the great work they did to alert the community.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

When is an 'independent' opinion not independent?

   This is the question opponents of the proposed Eastgate development on the busy Hamilton East corner of Clyde & Grey Sts have been asking themselves, after City Council management sought an 'independent' opinion on the legality of questionable Council planning processes from the very same lawyer Council management had paid to represent the Council in the April Environment Court hearing over the development.
    The Hamilton East Community Trust had discovered that strong restrictions on vehicle access to the Eastgate site had been listed on the property title at the time Council planners had approved the development - limits that meant the development plans could not have been legally approved. Then, days after the development was approved, Council planners retrospectively removed the restrictions without the normal consultation, allowing the Eastgate proposal the vehicle access it needed.
   When the Trust complained to Council management, and asked for an independent legal review of this abuse of process, Council management amazingly sought an opinion from the same solicitor who had run Council's case in the Appeal by the Trust against Eastgate, someone who had received information about this process 'problem' months earlier, but not advised Council management.
   Apart from completely changing the character of this former convent site, the development will add traffic chaos to an already highly-congested route, which is also part of the flagship Orbiter bus route and the main route between the city and the University. The people who want to build the development, and those who approved it, using shonky processes, need their heads read!