Hard News by Russell Brown


Going Underground

With "Tunnel or Nothing" signs starting to sprout all along the proposed SH20 route, it's clear that the eventual nature of the road -- under the neighbourhood or through it -- will be an issue for the folk of Mt Albert in their by-election.

Many of them clearly aren't comfortable with the idea of a bloody great big motorway splitting their suburb. But Owen McShane begs a thought for the other people. The people who fear tunnels:

Many people are uncomfortable driving in tunnels. Some call it the Princess Diana syndrome, but many people suffer from genuine claustrophobia in such environments.

We wonder why the interests of the neighbouring residents of Mt Albert are regarded so highly, while the interests of the motoring public, who pay for the project, are totally ignored.

Furthermore, this motorway network will exist and be in use for hundreds of years. Surely the specifications of such a major piece of infrastructure should not be determined by the wishes of households whose average stay is measured in years.

Of course. Because it's entirely possible that the neighbourhood will one day be full of people who find it reassuring to have a busy motorway over the back fence, even as they hold close their thoughts of the Queen of Hearts.

It won't be for want of trying on Owen's part. Because Owen has spoken the name of his fear before, in 2007, under the tremendous headline 'Does Auckland Have a Death Wish?':

Many of us enjoy walking. Surely, however, most of the pleasure lies in our enjoyment of the passing landscape. Will anyone enjoy walking any distance through a long tunnel beneath the harbour? Tunnels are generally frightening places to even drive through – shades of Princess Diana spring too readily to mind. The prospect of walking through a tunnel would frighten most people out of their wits. Surely the same applies to cycling. And when cyclists or pedestrians are in a tunnel they have no easy escape route from crazed drivers who delight in driving into them, or even from potential kidnappers or molesters.

Or even terrorists! Who knows?

Oh, and hat-tip to @keith_ng.

Meanwhile, this is from a release issued yesterday by a Mt Albert residents' group:

Steven Joyce, the Minister of Transport has asked for a review of the tunnel option citing costs as prohibitive to building a tunnel. Despite numerous requests from Mt Albert residents, the Minister has so far refused to visit the Mt Albert/Waterview area, to listen to residents concerns about how a surface motorway would impact on their lives. Residents are concerned the Minister is being influenced by other groups while not hearing what residents have to say.

Mt Albert Community Board vice –chair Phil Chase believes the Minister is being disingenuous about the costs he has publicly stated as $2.77 billion and the reason for the review. “The Minister has included the cost of the upgrade to SH16 (North Western motorway) in the tunnel option price. This upgrade has to be done regardless of what option is chosen (tunnel or surface). The Minister needs to take the SH16 upgrade out of the cost of the tunnel figure and then compare this to the surface motorway option.”


Kiwi FM breakfast host Wammo has noted on Twitter that the message explaining why we can't see the full episodes of The Daily Show on the Comedy Central website says that "your local content licensee" has asked that The Daily Show not be available to stream from Comedy Central. So would that be Sky -- implying that Sky's Comedy Central channel intends to grapple The Daily Show away from C4 -- or C4? Interesting.


Because of the Comedy Festival, we'll be recording Media7 earlier on Wednesdays this month.

We have a panel -- Bernard Hickey, Finsec's Andrew Campbell and Star Times business editor Tim Hunter -- discussing the way banks' behaviour is covered in the media -- are they bastards, or feeling the squeeze like everyone else? The Herald today has two relevant stories: Aussie banks' rates higher in NZ and Lack of transparency 'fuelling distrust of banks'. There's even a Your Views. But, as we'll note in the show, there's much more stroppiness on customers' behalf in the Australian media.

And then there's a panel on the art market in a recession, featuring duelling Hamishes (Keith and Coney) and Warwick Brown. That should be fun. Among other things, I'll have some excerpts from the recent Intelligence Squared Foundation debate in New York, which argued the moot that "The art market is less ethical than the stock market". The acclaim went to the affirmative team. You can watch the whole debate on YouTube.

Did I mention we're doing this earlier? Students and others with flexible afternoons are most welcome to join us at The Classic Comedy Club in Queen Street by 2.30pm tomorrow, for a 3pm recording. Just click Reply and let me know you're coming.


And the first two winners in the Powershop Pioneers competition have been drawn. Congratulations to Brenda Leeuwenberg and Steve Withers, who each win $1000 worth of free electricity. There's another draw this month. You can find out how to be in (by discussing your experience on Scoop's dedicated forum) here.

Personally, the major impact of going to Powershop has been being directly confronted with our house's actual energy usage. It has definitely made me more assiduous with the light switches ...

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