Hard News by Russell Brown


Some Week

I don't think I've appreciated any voice this week more than that of Joshua Arbury, keeper of the Auckland Transport Blog. He has provided an informed and useful perspective on the Waterview motorway issue, both on his own account and in discussion here and elsewhere. He identified the political spin in the government's costing of the previous tunnel option before most people, journalists included. His most recent post gives an excellent overview of what's at stake.

A word also for Liberty Scott, who, while taking a notably different view of National's new proposal (and the cost comparisons), has been informed, and frank enough to dispel the myth that the route of the proposed new road through Mt Albert had ever in fact been designated for a motorway. And to wonder what other projects will be axed as a result of National draining the National Land Transport Programme fund to pay for this one.

Meanwhile, Rhema Vaithianathan, our guest blogger on the issue this week, has followed up with a good characterisation of the fiddling with financing costs to exaggerate the difference between the tunnel and the new compromise option:

The question of whether there should be extra financing costs simply because it is outside the Fund is questionable. I have never seen such a cost added. The ring fence is an artifice to Government accounting. and financing costs should reflect the opportunity cost of funding. So either all options should have financing costs (i.e. opportunity cost) or none.

It's sort of like taking a cash advance on your credit card, and then pretending that the option which uses your cash is free, and the one which uses your credit card costs 25%.

It flies in the face of the theory of economic costing - which is that if accounting rules can influence our relative costs, then the costs are not "economic" but "accounting".

It's anyone's guess as to what will happen in the next four or five years, but it won't be at all smooth. Even leaving aside protest action or disquiet over the fast-tracking of the proposal, the cut-and-cover construction through the Waterview stretch of Great North Road -- a major arterial route -- from (supposedly) 2011 is going to be an absolute freaking nightmare. Anyone who has had to navigate Khyber Pass Road while the relatively minor job of replacing the rail bridge has been conducted might wish to mentally multiply that by heaps and thank their lucky stars they don't live in West Auckland.


I suspect National can look forward to this story getting nasty next week:

An Immigration Service investigator suspects National MP Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi or one of his supporters may have "paid off" the Indian woman at the centre of allegations that he made bogus job offers.

Documents obtained by the Herald show the woman alleged Mr Bakshi made her a false job offer to help her migrate to New Zealand.

But when she and her husband were interviewed in India by an Immigration Service official, they refused to co-operate.

Rather strikingly, Bakshi acknowledged to the Herald's Patrick Gower that an anonymous "wellwisher" might have paid off the couple, just without his knowledge. That sounds messy.

I'm further thinking that opposition parties should proceed carefully if they choose to run the issue.

Clear Channel Communications, which owns half of The Radio Network, is close to bankruptcy (hat-tip: @bernardchickey). The other half is owned by APN, whose major shareholder has its own fairly alarming problems.


After that, we probably all need a laugh. So be my guest and have a look at this week's Media7 programme on comedy, which I think struck a good balance between discussion of the issues -- most notably the gulf between a thriving performance scene and broadcast media -- and cheap giggles.

The podcast is here if you'd prefer that. And it'll turn up presently on YouTube.


Damian pulled together an excellent Public Address Radio lineup this week: we spoke to Russel Norman on the Mt Albert by-election; New Yorker senior editor Hendrik Hertzberg (I confess, I gushed a little); and Scots comic Janey Godley. That'll be on Radio Live from 5pm tomorrow, and on the Public Address Radio podcast early next week.


Telecom's XT Network launch was, in the end, just the usual room full of people drinking free booze, but the road there was fun. CEO Paul Reynolds has presentational skills his predecessors lacked (it's simply not possible to imagine Rod Deane getting up and enthusing the way Reynolds did), and the showpiece light installation created by Michael Mizrahi and his team is an extraordinary feat. Both inside and outside the Auckland Town Hall, the projections were perfectly mapped onto the building's physical features. How did they do that?

Update: Here's the video:

If you're in town for the next two evenings, do go down and have a look at the Town Hall's transformation.


It's giveaway time! As promised, I have two double passes for the Auckland opening night of Te Radar's new show, Eating the Dog to give away. Just click Reply and email me with "Eating the Dog" in the subject line. First in, first served. Gone! Buy a ticket ...

And I also have a CD copy of the new Pitch Black remix album, Rhythm, Sound and Movement, to give away -- email me with the album title in the subject line. [Gone too!] Otherwise, you can buy it here on Amplifier, in either CD or download form.


And for a Friday, Cat Power's gorgeous Peel Sessions version of Oasis's 'Wonderwall' has washed up again on Hype Machine -- in a post noting that British authorities are concerned that an Oasis concert on July 4 might disrupt voting in elections for the European Parliament.

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