Monday, June 23, 2008

Scratching round for desperate wins

When Otaki MP Darren Hughes can put out a press release about how wonderful widening a roundabout is, you know that things are getting desperate. Apparently there isn't much else for him to be proud of as a government MP.

Yes traffic delays in Otaki are bad and the roundabout widening is helpful, but really this is $600,000 on a state highway. Darren's role? Well he probably met with Annette King and the Transit CEO to say "this matters to me".

You said he says he worked with the Community Board to secure $600,000 for the project. Which seems like he actually "fought for the project". This is a bit of a stretch, no doubt he cheered it on. However it is one thing to cheer on a big project (like a major bypass of Otaki), another to cheer on this very modest road project (yep don't get too excited).

You see Transit consulted with the Community Board on the project, but it is Transit's road (well the Crown's road managed by Transit). It's a state highway, so it is up to Transit's board to advance the proposal which it would compared to other priorities in the region. Yes Darren could have said do it this year instead of next year, but there is no indication that it was a low priority. In fact the development has been getting funded for the last 3 years.

However the actual decision to proceed was from Land Transport NZ - which decides on funding bids from Transit (admittedly for another week!), and cannot be directed by the Minister to fund (or not fund) any specific project. So although Darren isn't the Minister, the Land Transport NZ Board is understandably rather averse to being told what to do politically.

Nice try Darren, you were a cheerleader and that's about it. Aim modest and you'll win (yes he's cheerleading Transmission Gully too though sparing his words). So how are hospital waiting lists, crime and traffic congestion in your electorate then? Made some stunning wins then given the massive increase in taxes collected from there since Labour was elected? Thought not.

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