15 October 2009

How do the Greens spread misinformation? Part 1 - Background

I could have called this “Sue Kedgley makes things up for an audience”, but I think what this post is about is wider than that. Sue is speaking on behalf of the Greens, so what she has done in this speech is presumably endorsed by the party. However, what she has done is express a litany of simple falsehoods, so false that I would question whether she really believes they are true, in which case why say it, other than to whip up hysteria for propaganda purposes.

First some brief background. The issue is whether to build a 4 lane expressway on the Kapiti Coast north of Wellington to relieve the current highway. The government has put forward three options, widening the current highway, partly widening the current highway, partly using an existing designation for a bypass of Waikanae and fully using the existing designation to bypass Paraparaumu and Waikanae. Why? Besides congestion through Kapiti becoming increasingly severe, wasting time, fuel and increasing vehicle emissions, the original plan was for a major arterial road to be built, 90% funded by central government, to allow a lot of local traffic to bypass the highway. Kapiti Coast District Council was to build the road, but since the last local body elections, it has taken a “Green” tinge, and started seeking to alter the route, narrow the road and effectively make it far less useful to relieving congestion. Some of the antics in altering the route have some rather disturbing elements of parochialism and partisanship for special interests. The government has had enough of this, it wont fund the narrow winding road with bridal path, so has decided one option is to use the land already set aside for that road for an expressway. Given that the road was originally set aside for a motorway since the 1950s, it should hardly be a surprise, and anyone who bought land adjacent to it should have known a major road would go there eventually. So property rights really are not an issue.

The Council is fighting this along with a local environmental group which is against any major highway development. It should know that it can’t get funding for the winding local road option, so given the government owns the state highway it would seek options to upgrade it. However, those opposing it are painting it as not a story about an incompetent council that has backtracked on its original plans to build a major new road, but some sort of conspiracy between the trucking industry and the government to “ruin Kapiti”. Fortunately, some local residents are fed up with this and have strong views counter to that of the council. These are people who own properties between the existing highway and the road designation, as well as others. This blog has a different view, supporting the original full local road option, and is also damning of the council.

So in wades Sue Kedgley on automatic, she makes this speech. What’s wrong with it? In summary Sue Kedgley has:
- Used heavily emotive language to describe what she hates (massive juggernauts, massive motorway, destroy communities), exaggerating for effect;
- Blanked out facts about the proposed expressway possibly being on land set aside for a motorway in the first place;
- Grossly misrepresented the Government’s proposals and justification for them, exaggerating them ridiculously;
- Claimed evidence for an effect which demonstrably isn’t true in numerous cases;
- Used a report to back her position that was not even on the topic in question, and which also supports a position she vehemently opposes;
- Talks extensively about a solution that is only slightly related to the issue at hand and talks not at all about the proposal at question (or even the counter proposal by those opposing it), maybe she doesn’t know anything about it;
- Says nothing has been done about rail, then lists several expensive projects that are being done;
- Claims rail isn’t the priority, yet the rail projects are the ones under construction, the road ones are being debated;
- Uses mega cities like London, Paris, Tokyo and New York as examples of how Paraparaumu and Waikanae can follow;
- Misuses official statistics about rail patronages;
- Is wrong about the age of the trains by over 20 years;
- Claims her preferred solution is cheaper than the ones proposed, when it isn’t;
- Misrepresents the cost of the proposed expressway and the economic appraisal;
- Makes a false claim that 51 tonne trucks need 4 lane motorways, when previous reports said the current state highway network can handle them no problem;
- Wants to ban long haul freight going by road, a new radical policy;
- Implies the current government is to blame for no toilets on new trains, when it isn’t, and none of the trains ever had toilets.

Read the (long) part two for the details.

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