The expressway for better or worse! In essence for good or bad Kapiti reaps what it has sown. After a sustained period of housing development Kapiti has the appearance of any other Wellington suburb lying beside the northern motorway. We have endured years of ‘hand wringing’ inaction on infrastructures including the lower Waikanae bridge. We continue to dither on the concept of ‘future proofing’ community projects such as the new pool complex despite having a large young population and having substantially increased the rate payer base. We continue to pay homage to the financial marketplace in having Coastlands as our defacto community centre. The proposed expressway is merely more homage to the ‘free’ marketplace.
Voted in by a fair margin, John Key’s National government recently displayed its naked desires to continue NZ’s association with globalisation and the ailing neo-liberal monetarism system, when it cast aside due process of a democracy, workers rights to collectively bargain with an employer and limply kowtowed to Peter Jackson & Warner Brothers. At the same time his stated goal of closing the wage gap with Australia was shown to be empty of substance. This week he is telling the Japanese to abandon their farmers in favour of our multinational Fonterra. The mandate of Freidman’s neo-liberal capitalism & globalisation is solely profit, it is not public good.
A routine ploy of current corporate practise is to move costs/externals, where possible, onto unrelated third parties. This process enables both increased profit and the increase of market share through the production/sale of overly cheap goods.
The ‘selling’ of this expressway is that it is of ‘national significance’. By degrees, rhetoric akin to Bush ‘selling’ an immoral war with the politics of fear-WMD’s and ‘war on terror’. In our little piece of the world, the real winners include the trucking industry driving on roads subsidised by tax payers.
The Labour government of the 1984-1990 foisted monetarism (Rogernomics) on NZ. Policy created and the sale of publicly owned assets rode on the justification of ‘efficiency’ and the eradication of subsidiary. It became a ‘user pays world’ and Government owned NZ railways with any added value as a public good was substantially abandoned.
The same examination of ‘efficiencies’ should rightly be brought to bear on trucking. Studies in the US suggest that the trucking industry causes 99% of damage to highways but only pay 35% of the maintenance costs. That one 18 wheel truck causes the same damage as 9600 cars. Our trucks run up to 30 wheels.
A casual look at local efficiency, one machine with its operator mowing grass beside the Wellington motorway is accompanied by two road cone/safety trucks and another ute. This style of McJobs hardly demonstrates efficiency. It is also hard to see that these jobs are any more productive than the shovel leaning icon of the railways heyday prior to 1984. Placed alongside our high unemployment and rise in prison population since 1984 the current regime does not scream success.
In properly applying ‘free’ market rhetoric, the only people paying for a road and transport of goods should be the user of those roads and transporters/users of those goods. The roads should not be subsidised by the unrelated tax payer. That is roads are paid for through kilometre & fuel tax that truly reflects the road cost of that particular vehicle. If that then proves less cost effective and efficient than using a railway network for long haul, then so be it and we then have a reduced load on our road network. Further goods transported long distances may then attract a price tag that allows local production and decentralisation to once again compete in the marketplace.
An honest government working for the true public good, rather than the requirements of globalisation, would allow a thorough open examination of the merits of all matters of national significances including transportation alternatives. However when we fail to educate ourselves on important issues and when we vote for politicians promoting economics divorced from an overarching principle of public good, then we do indeed reap what we sow.