15 October 2009

How do the Greens spread misinformation? Part 2 – Kedgley’s speech

In Part 1 I explained the rather complicated background to the Kapiti expressway issue. It’s one Sue Kedgley feels she can contribute to. Let’s see how she did. She made a speech to a Kapiti environmentalist group, supporting the council. So what did she say that was wrong? Note I’m only selecting the most blatantly obvious mistakes…

She said the Government was “announcing it is going to bulldoze a four lane motorway through Kapiti” including on one strip of land that was originally going to be used for a motorway in the first place, but Sue blanks that out. She uses the word “motorway” although the proposal is for an expressway, a subtle difference, but adds to the drama.

The government's justification for the proposed motorway from Foxton to McKay's Crossing” there is no proposed motorway from Foxton to McKay’s Crossing, the NZTA website explicitly says expressway from McKay’s Crossing to Otaki.

“is to… make the journey through Kapiti a few minutes quicker for long haul travellers and provide a fast lane between Wellington and Auckland for huge, juggernaut trucks” The NZTA website says nothing of the sort. This is further emotive hyperbole. It is to relieve severe congestion for local and through traffic. She made up “a few minutes” and the point about huge juggernaut trucks, for dramatic effect.

there is overwhelming international evidence that trying to solve congestion on one road by building yet another one simply doesn't work.” In the context of rural bypasses in New Zealand this is complete nonsense. Porirua and Tawa have been bypassed for decades successfully, so have places like Fairfield, Timaru, Richmond, Stoke, Upper Hutt, Waitara, Kaiapoi, Albany, Pokeno, Mercer and more recently Orewa and Silverdale. Quite simply bypasses DO work. “It's an almost irrefutable transport law” sorry Sue, I just refuted it.

The Government will “build a massive and expensive 4 lane motorway that will have a devastating impact on your community and your local ecology but will be of little use to local residents when petrol rises to $2 to $4 dollars a litre, as it inevitably will?” devastating impact? Not if it is built along the route reserved for it. Will it really be of little use if petrol rises so much? It will have taken through traffic out of the town centres, but then again Sue isn’t putting her own money on oil futures, so she’s not THAT convinced roads will be empty.

Two decades ago, in 1990, the then Commissioner for the Environment, Helen Hughes, investigated what would be the most effective way of solving congestion on the so-called Western corridor.” Yes, but the study was about access between Kapiti and Wellington, not traffic through Kapiti. Everything you say about this report is irrelevant, it did not touch upon roads through Kapiti. Nevertheless, you don’t tell the full facts about this either…

She concluded that that upgrading the rail service, not building a new motorway, was the solution” No, she concluded upgrading the rail service should be the first priority, before building a motorway along Transmission Gully. You oppose Transmission Gully Sue. Selectively quoting a report isn’t very honest is it?

So you see, Sue has now switched the issue from how to manage congestion from traffic travelling around and through Kapiti, to how people commute from Kapiti to Wellington, an quite different issue. Her entire focus is now nothing to do with what the expressway is meant to resolve or even the Council’s alternative proposal. In short, she’s subtly changed the topic to talk about what she wants to talk about – commuter rail. Remember this, nothing she says from now on is directly relevant, unless you think trains going south of Kapiti can be some sort of answer for traffic within and going north of Kapiti.

Since then, however, nothing has been done to rescue the rundown Kapiti rail service from further decline, although 48 new 2 car units were finally ordered last year, and the rail line is finally being double tracked and extended through to Waikanae.” What an oxymoron. Nothing has been done, EXCEPT order new trains, widen the track and extend electrification to Waikanae. Let's minimise hundreds of millions of dollars of spending.

Except she is wrong again. Since 1990, the current (Ganz Mavag) rolling stock was extensively refurbished from 1995 to 2002 with new seats. The double tracking also includes a wholesale upgrade of the signaling and electrics for the entire Wellington rail system. “Nothing” is false.

we need to transform what is at the moment a rundown suburban rail service into a fast efficient commuter rail system that commuters will want to switch to. So why isn't that our priority?” Again it’s false. It is the priority. The money the last government set aside for the Western Corridor had rail as the priority, with new trains, extending electrification to Waikanae and increasing the frequency of services. By comparison, nothing substantial has been spent on the highway except investigation and design work on Transmission Gully. Money for construction has not been approved.

Almost nobody drives from neighbouring suburbs into London, Perth, Tokyo or New York. They all commute by rail.” This is the Kapiti Coast Sue, not London. Besides which, how can those cities remotely compare, and the roads are all heavily congested in those cities. Funny that.

according to Kiwirail, more than 13 thousand people use the Kapiti line every day” No Sue, that’s misuse of statistics. That is the number of people along the whole length of the line, including people going between Wellington, Tawa and Porirua. 13,000 is not those going to and from Kapiti, indeed it would be maybe a third of that.

despite the fact that the trains are run down, 50 years old, often late, overcrowded, and freezing in the winter.” They are not 50 years old, they are 28 years old, hardly overcrowded at Kapiti and the heating is quite reliable. However, Sue doesn’t catch trains unless it is for a photo op.

An 8 train carriage takes at least 592 passengers and gets the equivalent of 440 cars or 1.2 kilometres of traffic off our roads.” No it doesn’t Sue, not everyone who travels by train would have travelled by car.

that's all it would take to solve the congestion on the Western corridor, as Helen Hughes predicted all those years ago, and for a fraction of the price.” Helen Hughes did NOT say that it would solve the congestion, and on price, how do you know Sue? You don’t give a price, but estimates I saw were that the track improvements alone would cost around $300 million, another 48 trains would cost $210 million, and then there are ongoing subsidies. So quite simply, you’re wrong compared to the cheapest expressway option of a maximum of $500 million.

why is the government building massive new motorways around the country spending $6 on roads for every $1 on rail” Sue, you know because the $6 comes from road users and about 40% of that is for road maintenance. The $1 on rail comes from taxpayers.

The problem is that these juggernaut trucks will be too big to travel on most of our narrow winding roads, they will need four lane motorways to travel on.” No they wont. This is a complete fabrication. They do not need motorways. The former Transit NZ investigation into this indicated most major highways could easily handle an increase to 50 tonnes. Most 44 tonne trucks can carry 50 tonnes with no increase in dimensions.

That's one of the reasons why the government wants to build a four lane motorway all the way from Wellington to Auckland, even if it means destroying hundreds of communities in its wake.” Really Sue? The government has said nothing about an expressway between Otaki and Cambridge. What community is being destroyed again?

But instead of building motorways to cater to an endless stream of juggernaut trucks, we should be requiring heavy freight to travel by rail, which is so much safer and far more energy efficient.” Oh so you want to force freight to go by rail? Like the old days when trucks were prosecuted for hauling freight more than 150kms. The energy efficiency claim is heavily restricted to train loads of goods over long distances, not truck loads over shorter distances.

This is code for saying that the proposed motorway which will cost a billion has a cost benefit ratio of .5% and that no matter how much they try to spin it or massage the figures, it will cost far more than any expected benefits.” No Sue, you’re wrong. You’re talking about Transmission Gully. None of the proposals has that cost, no matter how much you try to spin or massage the figures.

Meantime public transport is so cash strapped, that we've discovered there won't be any toilets on the brand new Kapiti trains” There weren't any on the current or the previous generation of trains either. It isn’t news Sue, the trains were ordered by the Wellington Regional Council before the current government was elected, when the Greens worked in partnership with Labour on transport. Hardly National’s fault is it?

So, on the one hand the government can suddenly pull a billion dollars out of a hat, overnight, for a motorway that no one wants. But on the other hand it can't even afford to put toilets on our new trains.” No Sue, no billion. $930 million is the most expensive option, the cheapest is $410 million tops. No Sue, this Government didn’t order the trains or fund them, it was a previous commitment.

So, exhaustively, you have it. 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.

Now I can do this fisking on this issue because I know it very well. How many other times does Sue Kedgley misrepresent the truth out of ignorance or laziness, and how many other times does she exaggerate for propaganda effect?

Is she the only Green MP who does this? If so, why do the Greens tolerate such senselessness. If not, how can the Greens be taken seriously when they are so lackadaisical with the truth?

Finally, does anyone know if Sue took the train to this meeting or drove? Given I have seen her drive from a public meeting in downtown Wellington before, I’m not holding my breath that she even caught the train.


Unknown said...


The thing about the "massive" trucks does bother me - that's seperate to any roading development I'd have thought, so why even consider it?

I mean, if this doesn't go ahead, won't those trucks still be on the road, and going through the town?

Plus: what sort of truck can run on a 4 lane highway, but not on a smaller road? Is she suggesting that National wants trucks that take up more than one lane?

Anonymous said...

Sue went to the meeting by train.

Jeremy Harris said...

This is where the error of the Greens dogma regarding transport comes to the fore... I view by-passes as an upgrade to the existing system rather than expansion, if they are in rural areas they increase the speed and safety issues with vehicles already using the system...

Passenger rail for inter-city trips is an illusion till fuel price rises 2 - 3 times forever and only the Greens think this is a realistic or economic answer in the current world paradigm... As Wellington isn't expanding rapidly I think the GWRC got the rail replacement plans about right...

Any one who thinks anyhing but the car should be the main form of transport is kidding themselves...

Rail freight on the other hand is a different story...

Jeremy Harris said...

Sorry in the first paragraph where I wrote "rural areas" that should have read "rural and small urban areas"...

Libertyscott said...

JD: Yes, she's talking nonsense.
Anonymous: Thank you, you would wonder given how much she poo pooed it.
Jeremy: Indeed, this isn't about south of Kapiti or indeed north of Peka Peka, it is about bypassing a heavily congested community. There are plans to bypass Otaki as well, which faces delays with local and through traffic clashing.

I thought the rail plans were fine, given I had a hand in them.

What gets me is the incredible number of falsehoods, is she that unaware of her misuse of information?