Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Hideous Twinge

Back from recess, and question time was pretty dull. Unusually so.  Which is a bit of a shame; I'd wanted something to blog about.  The highlight was Question Six.

Gerry Brownlee, as Minister of Transport, was unnecessarily belligerent with his answers to this primary question from Julie Anne Genter:
6. JULIE ANNE GENTER (Green) to the Minister of Transport: How much was spent on investigation, design, and other preparatory work for the now cancelled Otaki to Levin expressway?
The questioning elicited a few bizarre and un-ministerial answers,this exchange being the most obvious example:

Julie Anne Genter: Will he admit that spending most of the transport budget on building a few expensive motorways is not the best, most cost-effective way to improve safety and move more people and freight around the country, as we have seen with Ōtaki to Levin?
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: No. Of course I will not.

Seriously Gerry, you wouldn't admit it?  What if it was demonstrably true?

The nest supplementary was just as revealing, but it left the obvious follow up unasked:

Julie Anne Genter: Will further low-value roads of national significance projects be cancelled, such as the $1.7 billion Pūhoi to Wellsford project, which has lower traffic volumes and a worse benefit-cost ratio than the now cancelled Ōtaki to Levin expressway; and if not, why not?
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: No, because we think it does have the potential to carry a lot more traffic in the future—far more, in fact, than the tunnel through Auckland for the train with nobody on it.

 I'd like to know what basis the minister has for expecting more traffic on the Puhoi to Wellsford road, given the static or falling traffic counts across the country.
The subtlest bit was the minister revealing his ignorance.
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: [...] What I will instruct the New Zealand Transport Agency to do is to stop paying for reports like that on the impact of urban form on economic performance, Valuing Urban Design, and Business cases for walking and cycling, all compiled for the New Zealand Transport Agency by the member, at a huge cost—a jaw-dropping cost, in fact.
As I read it, this says that the minister is lacking the intellectual capacity to understand some of the reports his ministry has commissioned.  I doubt a glossary would have helped, and a larger font or more pictures can only go so far.  It seems we need a smarter minister.

Tufnels - Lurid, 1994


  1. How odd! I've just now watched the same clip and come to the self-same conclusions!
    Brownlee takes a beating from our Julie-anne, but appears unaware of it. She's handling the oaf very well, that fresh, new green. She knows her transport issues. I met her in Mataura after her bike ride from Chch. She's lovely. Incidentally.

  2. It was quite surreal - one of those "if a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it..." moments. I'm tempted to describe the behaviour as gauche, but even that doesn't cover it.