Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The CRL and the nature of change

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  • kiwicmc,

    What was odder in the Herald the other day? Rodney Hide singing the praises of Len Brown or the Herald for printing them?

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11580706

    Auckland, New Zealand • Since May 2008 • 88 posts Report Reply

  • Nick Russell,

    I'm not sure the Aucklanders here understand how toothgrindingly frustrating it is for the rest of the country to hear endlessly about Auckland's roads, Auckland's housing and Auckland's public transport. It's a focus for the Government because of the battleground seats there, not to mention the mayoralty and for the media because they mostly live there. But for those of us outside the bubble, not so much. And to keep getting told that what is good for Auckland benefits everyone else is really, really irritating. Because the effects on the rest of us can be very hard to see, even with a degree of goodwill.

    I suspect the consequences will be more reactions of the sort we saw in the Northland by-election last year. If there is a perception in New Plymouth, or Whanganui, or Invercargill, that the regions have been ignored or taken for granted then sooner or later it will start to hurt the Government. NZ First gets this and has been working away on it. Labour and the Greens seem to be happily inside the 09 bubble with National.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2008 • 122 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Which is absolutely as it should be, it always costs more to put infrastructure in low population areas but it is necessary, hence you get that per capita differential.

    Only to some extent - take the local hospital board here in Dunedin, it essentially provides service to the bottom 2/5s of the South Island - but it's reimbursed at the same per-capita rate as elsewhere - as a result it's essentially bankrupt, being run by the central government rather than a board (like ECAN we wont get a vote on their board this year) it's infrastructure is falling apart, when it rains it rains in operating theatres.

    We've spent the terms of the past National governments with school closure, cutbacks in govt departments including wholesale defections, cross-town mail now gets sorted in Chch, all mail now takes 2 days longer, want to go down to the Dept of Immigration, drive to Chch, we closed that, no more immigrants for you .... live in a really poor part of town, can't afford a car .... oops we closed your kid's school, you'll have to drive them down the hill to the flat ...

    Of course it's not helped by Dunedin always voting Labour, National doesn't see any upside spending money here, and no downside of cutting everything to the bone. But they will give us just enough money for over priced rugby stadiums so that our council can go into the most attrocious levels of debt - our rates have been compounding above inflation for 15 years now, sometimes by 10% a year - meanwhile we continue to subsidise for-profit rugby from our rates to the tune of millions a year. I don't see a government bailout for rugby world cup debt yet

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2606 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Paul Campbell,

    but it's reimbursed at the same per-capita rate as elsewhere

    You miss the weighting for ethnic diversity, and it seems the adjustment for rurality and distance is not enough to make up for that.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19686 posts Report Reply

  • linger, in reply to Sacha,

    How often is the distance adjustment readjusted to take account of fuel prices?

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1889 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell, in reply to linger,

    How often is the distance adjustment readjusted to take account of fuel prices?

    it’s not just that, we don’t put someone in Queenstown who’s having a heart attack in an ambulance and drive them to Dunedin – it’s the need to build and run more hospitals spread out over the area served that necessarily serve smaller populations with less efficiency available that increases the real costs.

    The same thing applies to police stations, mail carriers, all that sort of infrastructure that’s more efficient in large population areas.

    The continual ‘rationalising’ of local govt. has left Dunedin an urban city with mostly urban ratepayers largly a rural entity – Dunedin is 6 times the size of Aukland with 1/10 the ratepayers – our city council has to be good at lots of different, often competing things, they’re not, they’re broke – being bigger does not always mean more efficient

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2606 posts Report Reply

  • Alfie, in reply to Paul Campbell,

    Well said Paul. The Hospital Board fiasco is just another example of this region being badly treated by central government. Having our hospital meals prepared by Compass in Auckland and trucked South was another doozy which cost many local jobs for a negligible saving.

    Add to that other poor government decisions which have impacted on Dunedin’s economy, like the closure of Hillside Workshops with the loss of 90 jobs because (govt owned) Kiwirail decided to buy cheap rolling stock from China rather than supporting local industry. Sure there was a saving on paper, until they discovered the brand new Chinese wagons all had faulty brakes so they came to Hillside to be repaired anyway. Stupid.

    Then there’s the dumb decision to move Agresearch scientists from Invermay to Lincoln. The Invermay unit has a world-beating reputation in genetics and genomics, they work closely with Otago Uni and Otago and Southland farmers were strongly opposed to the move. But Joyce continued anyway, so Invermay has already lost several senior staff, morale is at an all time low because nobody wants to move to Lincoln when there’s an accomodation shortage in Canterbury.

    The government’s paper savings often turn out to be false economy when you factor in the cost to the country of hundreds more people on benefits. Dunedin people aren’t asking for more than their share of the pie… just a fair suck of the sav, guv.

    I’m sorry if you see this as ‘whining’ Bart, but the catchcry of "What’s good for Auckland is good for the country" rings a little hollow when you live outside the Auckland bubble.

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1386 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell, in reply to Alfie,

    Having our hospital meals prepared by Compass in Auckland and trucked South was another doozy which cost many local jobs for a negligible saving.

    My brother delivers meals on wheels to the elderly, he was embarassed by what the Auckland people thought Xmas dinner should look like.

    I was in hospital for ~10 days last year (I caught legionaires – did you know they can’t test for it in NZ they have to send samples to Oz, takes about 7 days) – contrary to the usual narrative I thought the food was good … but it was basically my grandmother’s cooking, which I realise makes sense, for elderly patients, my parent’s generation, this is their comfort food … somehow I don’t think Aucklanders are necessarily going to make this sort of food, rather than a Scottish inspired menu we’ll get something different, probably more generic and bland.

    But more Dunedin jobs going north means more votes for National ….

    My wife applied for NZ citizenship last year had to wait months for a passing itinerant Dept of Immigration person to have space in her schedule rather than just going down to the office and taking a number.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2606 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I think it is starting to dawn around here that there aren’t many levers left to pull.

    It's a prison that the political right choose to live inside. There are endless levers, but they make arbitrary rules not to pull them. Having no levers left is the endgame for the minimal government ideology, which makes it self defeating, because they become weaker the stronger they get.

    That's the ideological battle anyway. When it comes down to actual humans implementing any of it, I don't think either of the two main parties is that ideological. As Key shows practically every day with his newest and latest backpedal. Listening to him talking policy is like listening to people explaining the movements of the stockmarket, with a brand new story every day. Often within a day.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10633 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Alfie,

    I’m sorry if you see this as ‘whining’ Bart

    I actually said the non-Auckland areas SHOULD get more per capita. Almost everything you've just described comes from not doing that.

    I don't mind you complaining about the lack of support you get. What I hate is the idea that any time Auckland gets some support it's an excuse to have a bash at Auckland and then complain about how Auckland gets all the support.

    BTW the movement of AgResearch from Invermay was an internal AgResearch decision, driven mostly because maintaining multiple research sites is freaking expensive and funding has been steadily declining in real dollars terms for the last 20 years.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4451 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Paul Campbell,

    take the local hospital board here in Dunedin, it essentially provides service to the bottom 2/5s of the South Island – but it’s reimbursed at the same per-capita rate as elsewhere

    Much like Auckland DHB, which provides tertiary services to the whole country but only gets funding based on the population of its board area. So Starship, as an example, is funded for Auckland's population but is the only dedicated paediatric facility in the entire country. Likewise transplants of anything except kidneys, which only happen in Auckland. And if a government decided to fix that anomaly, we'd get more whinging from outside Auckland about how Auckland was getting all the money; it would also sort out the issue you raise vis Dunedin, but I doubt there'd be any satisfaction outside Auckland if Auckland was also getting more money.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    Dunedin's is a teaching hospital there are good reasons why some of those specialist sorts of units ought to be here - but we have to fundraise to pay for some of them, recently it was for a neurology unit (because everyone with a head injury really wants to be driven to Chch (and remember when Dunedin bought its own body scanner when the govt would only buy them for Akl/Wlg/Chc).

    I'm sure it doesn't help that our only nominal National list MP used to run the local catholic private hospital

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2606 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Paul Campbell,

    we have to fundraise to pay for some of them

    That's a common refrain. Starship had to do fund-raising in order to add operating theatres and improve facilities for patient privacy. Health funding across the country is in pretty dire straits, courtesy of the current regime's policies.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    courtesy of the current regime’s policies.

    Courtesy of the Key tax cuts, and the subsequent cutting of spending in order to be able to afford those tax cuts.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4451 posts Report Reply

  • tussock,

    Eh, it's all ideological. National wants rich people to be richer, and also get more from the government, partly by making poor people poorer and giving them less things from government. Because rich people are more deserving in their eyes.

    So they completely cut funding for solo parents education, and massively increase state funding for private schools, and allow crazy rich folk to start weird little "we love Brian" schools. Cut public health funding, increase private health funding. Cut rail funding to cut back public mass transport, increase road funding to run bigger private trucks.

    In this case, the big money folk have pointed out that they need the rail line too, to get more workers into the CBD in reasonable time and inflate the property and business values in there (and all rail-connected areas) a bit further, without having to drive up wages and other compensation.

    Because useful infrastructure is really good for everyone, which most of the time also means even better for the really rich folks. So is socialism in general and things like public health and education, but you have to understand that to the national party some people just aren't as deserving.


    So we don't really have service cuts to afford the tax cuts. It's nonsense, state budgets don't work like that at all. They just happen believe in both cutting services to the poor and giving more money to rich people.

    Since Nov 2006 • 607 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    And here on the front page of the ODT, almost as I'd predicted it, a revolt by the elderly receiving meals-on-wheels service that may sink the viability of the whole service, because of the poor quality of hospital's 'Auckland food' that was foisted on the local hospital board (trying to stave off being taken over by the govt, it didn't work), and cost all those local jobs, as part of National's on going privatisation program.

    While they're complaining about the quality and the taste - the point that food that used to be made fresh locally, and is now frozen and trucked from the North Island then reheated for delivery can't be safely refrozen a second time for later use is a good one.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2606 posts Report Reply

  • chris, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    *I wonder how much of Bill English’s $100+ billion will be paid back in a decade and a half or will they still be crowing about making the interest payments

    $121b now. interest is currently at $186 a sec, so the cost of this CRL will be eclipsed between now and July. At least the CRL will leave a lasting tangible to show for the outlay (until such time as they just give up on it like they’ve done with the Napier-Gisborne line that Hilary mentioned). Meanwhile the rIght wing Church of Artificial Scarcity will continue to lead its congregation tussling over scraps; all risen for psalm 121, Either, Or but never And.

    Mawkland • Since Jan 2010 • 1302 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to BenWilson,

    There are endless levers, but they make arbitrary rules not to pull them.

    or have stealthily removed the fulcrums and us fools get the crumbs - if we're lucky...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7889 posts Report Reply

  • Jim Cathcart, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    NZ hasn’t had a great experience with public debt. It can be worthwhile but it can also be badly managed and end up being a dead weight on the economy.

    It only really works if you can be sure the asset will generate enough value to pay off the debt and generate further gains beyond just debt servicing.

    Bart, while I'm not saying you're wrong about debt management, this is kind of at odds with the shift in economic thought happening globally. All the pump priming in infrastructure that occurred in Japan to keep their economy afloat post the the 1990 crash has been unsustainable from a position of being able to manage the debt.

    What I am suggesting is that NZ has limited options on how it can continue to drive the economy without spending on infrastructure, hence the similarities with Japan. How that spend is allocated nationally is important at the local level, but with so much effort and resources spent on CRL, I'm suggesting that this decision was quite an easy one to make, considering the political establishment is probably more concerned about the bigger picture.

    Since Nov 2006 • 228 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Courtesy of the Key tax cuts, and the subsequent cutting of spending in order to be able to afford those tax cuts.

    Actually, it is policy-driven, more than economics. Because they were going to do this (and other cuts), they knew they could afford the tax cut vote winner promise.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2930 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    Much like Auckland DHB, which provides tertiary services to the whole country but only gets funding based on the population of its board area.

    Pretty sure they also get funding after the fact from the person's local DHB. Still expensive to maintain clinical quality and suchlike for the only national service for many conditions. We are a small country.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19686 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Paul Campbell,

    can't be safely refrozen a second time for later use

    wonder if the beancounters thought of that cost for recipients rather than the DHB?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19686 posts Report Reply

  • Jim Cathcart, in reply to nzlemming,

    Actually, it is policy-driven, more than economics. Because they were going to do this (and other cuts), they knew they could afford the tax cut vote winner promise.

    Policy and economics are not mutually exclusive. Tax cuts are actually a way of shifting savings to the private sector and increasing public debt. I know that saying that it is strategic option to win votes rings true, but it is also good for the economy as a whole. The smaller the public debt means the larger the private sector debt. This is an inescapable reality.

    Since Nov 2006 • 228 posts Report Reply

  • Swan,

    "The realities of other CBD developments, principally but not only the demolition and rebuilding of Downtown Mall, meant the delay imposed by the government would increase both the cost and disruption caused by the project. This isn’t even news."

    The downtown mall is already underway with the section of CRL through its site being progressed as part of the early works packages. So not really a reason there that I can see.

    Birkenhead • Since Feb 2011 • 86 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    It continues, today's ODT reports that they had "better meals under [the] Nazis" than the frozen ones ones being trucked from the North Island

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2606 posts Report Reply

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