So the worst of all our privatisations has finally been undone. We can hardly pretend that the railways and ferries were doing well before the National government sold TranzRail to Fay, Richwhite and friends, but by any reasonable assessment what happened subsequently was hideous.
With Toll out of the picture and the robber-barons but a foul memory, the government is now tasked with deciding what it will do with the network. Cullen has made the point that it makes more sense for the government to subsidise a public enterprise than a private one. But how much needs spending and how freight will be wooed off the roads and onto rail (shades of the Muldoon era!) remains to be seen.
(Oh, and when National, as it inevitably will, demands to know why the government should be subsidising the network at all, it should be asked then why it's such a fine idea to subsidise a comprehensive fibre-optic communications network to the tune of billions of dollars.)
Across the Tasman, it hasn't taken Kevin Rudd long to throw the gays under the bus. The new Austraian Labor government could simply have declined to follow the ACT government's move to recognise same-sex relationships. Instead, it has chosen to try and block ACT's initiative by any means it can think of.
The context is the Rudd government's much-touted move to amend more 100 laws that discriminate against gay couples. But Rudd and his people have decided that the masses will not bear the obvious move to civil unions.
Rudd's excuse is that he promised there would be no amendment to Australia's Marriage Act. Perhaps someone could point him across the Tasman, where civil unions have been embedded without troubling the Marriage Act -- and, for that matter, without provoking buggery on streetcorners and the collapse of the family.
Presumably, Rudd fears the kind of destructive hellfight Labour encountered here when it made the move: he wants to preserve his popular public image from a campaign by the forces of angry conservatism. And that, really, is the problem with a strategy of government based solely on maintaining popularity.
Rudd might also want to read this third-anniversary blog post by New Zealand Labour's Wellington central candidate, Grant Robertson:
One of the things that opponents of the Act might find difficult to understand is that it is playing an important role in strengthening families. We recently attended the celebration of a civil union of some friends. This couple held events in different parts of the country so everyone could be a part of their celebration. One set of parents had never really acknowledged their relationship of ten years, until the civil union. The civil union gave the parents the opportunity to see the relationship for what it is- a loving, enduring commitment. In a sense the civil union gave the relationship a sense of legitimacy, and has built bonds across and within two families.
Meanwhile, Stateside, Red State Obama derangement reaches right over into an attack on Obama backer Lawrence Lessig. Even the commenters aren't impressed.
And finally, we have room for some Public Address readers at tomorrow afternoon's recording of Media7 at The Classic on Queen Street (the last of our afternoon records for a while). Just hit "reply" and let me know you want to come and whether you'd like to bring a friend.