Steven Joyce has made some pretty crazy statements over the years however his answer in parliament yesterday surely has to rank as one of craziest. He was being questioned by Labour MP Jacinda Ardern in relation to how the film industry is performing and the odd part starts at about two minutes in.
The key part is also in the transcript below:
Jacinda Ardern : Why are venues like Studio Auckland, which was 100 percent full until a few years ago, now the quietest it has ever been, and why is Studio West, which was fully tenanted for much of the past 12 years, now getting one booking query a month with the owner, stating that this is the worst he has seen the local industry in 20 years?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE : As I say, I acknowledge that some companies are finding it a little bit difficult. I understand, though, in relation to one of the venues the member raises, that one of the particular issues is that it is associated with a railway line nearby, and, of course, Auckland Transport has increased the frequency of trains hugely so it is not as popular as it once was. But I have to say it is a little ironic to be questioned by that party on the health of the screen industry when it was that party that wanted—
Now just so everyone is clear, the studio he is talking to is out west near Glen Eden and is located near to the rail line. You can see it on the map below.
I’m also not claiming that the train noise isn’t having an impact as I’m sure our noisy diesels can definitely cause problems. What I did find odd is the claim that the issue has come out due to increased frequencies. The reason for that out west we still have only 15 minute peak services – the same as we have had for years – and off peak we only get half hourly services.
So in the graph below I have added up from old timetables how many trains go past the studio within each half hour period of the day. What it shows is that the number of trains going past the studio on a normal weekday is not that different from what it was over 5 years ago with the only difference being that the peaks have been extended slightly.
If we were getting 15 minute frequencies through the middle of the day (which would be great) then yes that would be a dramatic change but until that time it seems like Steven Joyce is just using his dislike of trains as an excuse for what are likely to be other issues. I guess the good news is that in a few years things will be much quieter with the new electric trains running around. I wonder if the benefits to the film industry was listed in the business case for electrification?