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A Key influence on transport

So, John Key announced he was resigning as Prime Minister yesterday. I’m sure that over the coming days and weeks there will probably be a nauseating amount of coverage about him, his decision and whoever his replacement ends up being. Below are a few thoughts on the role Key has played in the discussion of urban transport in Auckland

Perhaps Key’s biggest influence on urban issues has been in relation to the City Rail Link. If you cast your mind back, in 2008 he first appointed Stephen Joyce as Minister of Transport and then in 2011 he appointed Gerry Brownlee. Both men, and obviously with the backing of Cabinet, were extremely critical of the project, primarily by appearing to completely misunderstand and misrepresent its purpose and the impact it would have. For example, Joyce once said of the project “that is not smart transport; that is pouring money down a hole”, while Brownlee was perhaps even more opposed, at one point in late 2012 saying “I take big issue with the suggestion that the city rail link is useful or popular”. Even in May 2013 Brownlee was downplaying the project and suggesting it was unimportant.

But everything changed just a month later in June 2013 when Key overrode his ministers and announced for the first time that the government would support the project – albeit not till 2020 and with uncertainty around the exact level of funding from the government. At the beginning of this year Key again weighed in on decisions about the project by announcing the government would support the project starting sooner than 2020. In both cases the business community had a strong part to play in changing the government’s position.

Emmerson CRL John Key 2016.01.27

Even though it took a lot longer than hoped, I suspect we could still be hoping for the project now if the likes of Joyce or Brownlee were in charge.

The second big transport area Key has played a important role has been with cycling. He was instrumental in creating the Urban Cycleway Fund (UCF), which has resulted in unprecedented levels of spending on cycling after decades of almost no investment in bike infrastructure.

John Key on Bike 1

John Key while on a visit to the Netherlands

But it wasn’t just his support for the CRL and cycling projects that was positive, he turned up to a lot of transport events, from cycleway celebrations, to business lunches and even to celebrate the arrival of the final electric train, and speaking about urban transport incredibly well, often making comments that are not too dissimilar to what you might find here on the blog. As one example, here’s one part of what he said at the EMU celebration last year.

When it comes to public transport, there’s nothing unique about New Zealanders or Aucklanders. You know this sort of thing that’s put out there that the average Aucklander isn’t going to get on an electric train or bus or whatever. It’s not true because those very same Aucklanders when they go to London and live there for the big two years on the OE the first thing they do is get on the tube. So what’s the difference, well the answer is sheer convenience and reliability and in the end people will get on trains alright provided they turn up when they want them, they’re there and working, and they’re clean and tidy, and that’s exactly what you’ve got going on here.

He may not have been perfect but at least he seemed to understand urban transport issues when he wanted to, although perhaps it’s just the mark of a good politician to say the right things to the right audience.

It’s also worth noting that his government is currently trying to stop Light Rail from being an option on Dominion Rd with a remarkably similar approach/feel to it as the opposition to the CRL prior to 2013.

With Key going, of course now focus is going to shift to who the next leader will be, and the likely Cabinet lineup. Here are a few things to think about.

  • At this early stage, Bill English is widely tipped to become the new leader. As I understand it, he’s been quite important behind the scenes in understanding the urban economy argument which has helped in getting the government to support some of the investment mentioned above as well as things like the Unitary Plan. If he becomes the PM a lot of people are picking Stephen Joyce to be the next finance minister. Given his stances he’s taken in the past on many of the issues we advocate for I can’t see this being a good thing.
  • With a new leader, and election a year away, it’s highly likely we’ll also see a cabinet reshuffle. I actually think Simon Bridges has done a relatively good job in the role over the last few years and I’m not sure if there is a better person for the job within the government at the moment, especially at that Cabinet level.
  • There always seems to be a resentment towards Auckland from the rest of the country as to how much is spent here by the Government. Across all areas combined, Auckland typically gets a smaller share of government spending than its share of population or GDP. Key was possibly one of Auckland’s biggest allies in the government so with his departure does it mean we could see the National Party shift focus and spending away from Auckland in a ‘play for the regions’?
  • On some more specific questions,
    • Will the government still share the costs of the CRL 50:50?
    • Will we see a repeat of the Urban Cycleway Fund after the next election?
    • Will we see light rail down Dominion Rd?

What are your thoughts on John Key’s resignation? (as they relate to transport and urban issues).

83 comments to A Key influence on transport

  • The great unfinished business between the government and our only city of scale is ATAP. What that translates into over the years ahead, and how the national politics of its findings play, will be critical.

    The need to complete the full Rapid Transit Network, and therefore to find a mechanism to fund an accelerated programme is urgent. And is probably something of a prerequisite to Road Pricing, which is inevitable, in some form, and at some point. And the only way to actually deal with traffic congestion. More wider urban motorways simply generate more traffic congestion in the absence of a real joined up alternative network.

    Reform how transport infrastructure is funded; a much more mode blind system is required. No more; where can we put another State Highway at any cost and of any value.

    A government that is more engaged on the housing affordability crisis would be a huge improvement; Key’s government drifted on this.

    And of course finally addressing the other great drift of this government; the biggest cow in the shed: Climate Change.

  • Alex F

    The fifth National government led by John Key has seen a mixed bag. We saw the amalgamation of the Auckland Council, the Roads of National Significance (including the Waterview connection to be complete in the new year) and the urban cycle way fund investing in 19 New Zealand urban areas. They finally had the guts to support the CRL after years of blocking by Steven Joyce and Gerry Brownlee, and eventually flip-flopping after intense public pressure and a strong campaign by the Auckland Council and mayor Len Brown.

    The most notable failure has to be the continual demise of Kiwi Rail and our rail networks in favour of catering to the trucking lobby. The uncertainly over some much needed infrastructure in Auckland is still a concern (including the second Waitemata Harbour crossing and the Auckland Airport rail connection) but hopefully good electioneering will see a governing party in 2017 which will make non-mono modal transport a high priority – whichever party that ends up to be.

    • Kiwirail is perhaps the most efficient freight railway (or railway full stop) in the world, in terms of what they’ve done with what they have, so props to them.

      But the reality is that Kiwirail is always going to be a struggling company. New Zealand lacks the quantity of freight moved in places like Europe, and unlike the US it doesn’t have huge non coastal areas that need to be linked up. Instead it has a small freight market, heavily focused on coastal ports. Kiwirail’s demise is sad, but not slightly unprecedented.

      The real sham from National has been their lack of focus on the housing crisis. I understand it’s a complicated situation for them, but they could’ve done a lot to push through zoning laws (even still could – the UP is tangled up in NIMBY tape).

  • Stuart Donovan

    some of my thoughts:
    – John Key struck me as a decent person and a capable Prime Minister. New Zealand has been lucky to have two consecutive prime ministers that have such attributes. Fingers crossed we get a third …
    – Bill English also strikes me as being decent and capable. I think he’s had a positive influence on urban development policies, and also seems keen to improve the *quality* of infrastructure spending.
    – Stephen Joyce, Paula Bennet, and Judith Collins strike me as being unfit for the PM’s job.
    – I’d like to see senior cabinet roles going to fresh/new faces.

    In terms of transport, I think the primary issue with National was the way that Joyce/Brownlee approach transport from the perspective of individual modes, rather than an integrated transport system. Hence why they came up with the fatally flawed RONs category of investment. If they had instead set aside funds for “Transport Projects of National Significance”, and invested in whichever major transport projects had the highest strategic value, then their transport legacy would be much more favourable.

    Let’s hope the new cabinet continues to support Bridges’ pivot away from the transport mode silos that were built by Joyce and Brownlee.

    • mfwic

      Amy Adams is the most capable of the options. Which is exactly why she wont get it. Bill English is the Dipton Double Dipper. He gave National their worst result ever.

      • stu donovan

        I’d say that a lot of things are different now than when bill was last leader. For example, back then he was up against aunty helen and pop cullen, which were a rather impressive political unit.

        I don’t think labour is quite packing that punch these days.

  • Ari

    I’ve never voted Labour/National but I will miss John. Just look at that photo. How casual he is. Typical kiwi, millionaire. He was pragmatic and down to earth. Unlike his colleagues.
    National still seems like a farmers party. Well-off & white. So without John, I expect a lurch to the right and less support for PT/intensification and more support for car sprawl. I think they will honour the CRL funding agreement, but I don’t know about any more money for cycling.

    Plus I think trams on Dominion will happen eventually, but not any time soon. It doesn’t stack up and I don’t think AT is on board with the idea yet.

  • Adrian

    I think John Key’s impact on transportation and urban issues is that the ground has shifted to favour public transport more. Of course it is not where most who read this blog would like, myself included, but it has shifted. If we assume that this Government is the most pro-road side of the spectrum then we can easily see how much the debate has moved.

  • Brian

    Compared to his colleagues, Key has been an important ally for Auckland. This suggests short term things will be worse with him gone.

    Of course the 2017 election is now wide open.

    • Brutus Iscariot

      National will stumble in with NZF in 2017, and the following 3 years will be a wasteland for PT in Auckland. Key’s resignation is a very bad result for Auckland,

      Remember the Nats provincial right simply doesn’t “get” PT. And many of the rest frown on it as being a dirty hippy solution that doesn’t stack up.

      • Peter Nunns

        I’m not so sure about that. Auckland sends a bunch of votes to National, and public transport is broadly popular in the city. So there are electoral incentives to carrying on with the current approach. (Which, to be accurate, also includes a whole bunch of roadfests.)

        • Dan C

          Yeah it’s not just Key that gets it. Remember Nikki Kaye wants to send trams through her electorate, through grey lynn and ponsonby and into town. And she worked for TfL once too. Perhaps she has come back to parliament just in time to save us.

      • Scott G

        I can see your point there, but it’s just as possible that National will go all out to woo Auckland at the next election.
        They’ve recently had two pretty humbling defeats there (mayoralty and Mt Roskill by election) and are losing two of their most high profile MPs from electorates there (Key and McCully).
        Isn’t is possible they’ll throw together a policy package directly designed to appeal to Akl voters?

      • Brendan

        Surely having the nat’s with a party that has the two items in their transport policy is better than not having them there.

        – Balance the roading needs of the main centres with the need to reduce the ever growing dependence on the motorcar. We will support practical and socially supportive and economically feasible demand management options, including affordable and convenient park and ride facilities, road space prioritisation measures, parking management and pricing incentives and disincentives, and differentiated road pricing options on major arterial routes.
        – Seek to increase funding for well-designed cycling and walking commuter routes in the cities, and to and from schools and tertiary institutions.

  • Peter Nunns

    Good review, Matt. John Key’s undoubtedly led some positive steps forward on transport in Auckland. There have also been some missed opportunities and cock-ups, eg with the motorway-centric Christchurch rebuild. But getting stuff like the CRL, urban cycling, and Unitary Plan through will (I hope) generate long-term benefits for Auckland and New Zealand.

    One thing I’ve appreciated about John Key, after the general silliness of 2016, has been his commitment to relatively pluralistic politics. For instance, in 2005 Don Brash almost became PM on the back of a race-baiting campaign (iwi/kiwi, the Orewa speech, etc). Three years later, Key got into office and signed an supply-and-confidence agreement with the Maori Party even though National didn’t need the numbers to govern. Since then, his government has quietly carried on with the Waitangi process, symbolically reversed the Foreshore and Seabed Act, and tried out a range of interesting stuff.

    That matters a lot to me and many other New Zealanders. Maori or Pakeha, we all have to live together on this land. I’d prefer if we do it in a respectful and inclusive way. I sincerely hope his successor as PM and leader of the National Party carries on this legacy.

  • Waspman

    I’m firmly of the opinion that it will take a change of government to deliver alternatives to gridlock. National believe firmly in the outdated motorways answer probably as much as the connections they have to those who construct them as they think tarsealing Auckland will somehow fix rather than worsen the situation.

    Key was always a chameleon politically if it won votes but how much he really committed to such promises was always questionable. And if course he was backed by Nationals polling/focus group machine. But having said that no poll is going to give you the definitive direction in transport and in that respect it’s a crap way to run a country.

    We’ve had 8 years of fiddling around the edges, delayed EMU introductions and a delayed, reduced version of the CRL and the loss of other potential rail links in the process, plus many squandered opportunity’s to improve PT, largely leaving the initiative and funding to Auckland ratepayers.

    To really get somewhere we need central government firmly in partnership, and that is not going to happen, meaningfully, with National.

  • AKLDUDE

    What are you on about Brutus? NZF is very much pro-rail. Only the Green’s are more pro-rail. NZF wants to upgrade the North Auckland Line meaning places like Kumeu etc (which are large greenfields growth areas) will be able to have rail rather than everyone driving.
    Where NZF might be an issue for Auckland is that it has a policy of regional growth. This would encourage government organisations (SOEs etc) to move to the regions where possible. While Auckland might miss out on some agglomeration benefits from such a policy, the country as a whole would be better off since lack of jobs is the main issue facing the regions. Auckland will have some benefits from it in terms of some assistance in slowing the expansion slightly to give a better chance for infrastructure to catch up.

    • Nick

      Yeah but that’s the problem. They are pro-rail. You shouldn’t be “pro” a particular mode. It’s about getting suitable mode(s) in place to reflect the needs of people in a particular situation. Often that may be rail. But it could just as easily be light rail, or buses, or cycleways, or a mixture of one or more of them. Perhaps in some unusual situations in could be roads, or at least road safety improvements. You have to consider all the options, not promote one particular thing.

      • Kalelovil

        I am not a fan of NZF’s xenophobic-streak, but they are on record for supporting Light Rail and more balanced transport funding (in this one respect, their platform isn’t too different from the Green Party):
        http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA1501/S00104/thumbs-up-for-light-rail-so-lets-get-on-with-it.htm

        ““Internationally trams (light rail) are enjoying a renaissance but New Zealand is stuck in 1960s thinking under a National government with a mindset on roads,” says Transport Spokesperson Denis O’Rourke.

        “This $1 billion proposal by Auckland Transport cannot be sweep aside as too expensive. National is spending a billion dollars on its Roads of National Significance, while it ignores other modes of transport. This is not the ‘level playing fields’ the government talks about.

        “Let’s get smart and up to date about how people can travel within our cities.

        “While the money required for light rail over time will provide long term returns and benefits, the high initial capital cost is usually seen as prohibitive for most councils to undertake on their own.

        “Therefore the government must jointly pay for light rail on a 75 per cent (government) and 25 per cent (council) basis where there are congested roads, and this is certainly the case in Auckland which this proposal addresses,” says Mr O’Rourke.”

    • Brutus Iscariot

      I believe they’re pro- regional rail, certainly – which is a positive. But a lot of their strategy is based on baiting out the rural vote by talking about how Auckland gets too much of the pie. Unlikely they’ll be forking out for Dominion Road light rail for example.

      • Nick R

        Yes, being pro regional rail means they’ll no doubt be happy to spend tens, maybe hundreds of millions on the NAL to get a couple hundred commuters out of one station in Kumeu, which comes at the expense of more worth rail, bus and ferry projects elsewhere. A programme of bus lanes on main suburban roads would move literally hundreds of times more people for less cost, for example, but you wouldn’t do that if you’re “pro-rail”.

        Like the other Nick says above, being pro-whatever-mode is literally a prejudiced position. Hard to get good outcomes when you’re intentionally ignoring most of your options.

    • Ari

      NZF is only pro whatever Winston feels like on the day. They can be pro-anything, but never really push for it. In reality they just pander to their elderly voters.

      • Regarding elderly voters, in my anecdotal experience, they seem quite keen on public transport. Which suggests that you can appeal to older voters with things like trams, trains and better busses (and concessions).

    • Peter Nunns

      Agree with Nick. Rail’s got a useful place, but rail is not the only form of urban public transport, or the appropriate solution in all contexts. Horses for courses. Or rather, buses for busways, etc.

  • HSB1 Alumnus

    Key can’t override his ministers. Decisions are made in cabinet, where majority rules. Key convinced his ministers (perhaps through threats) but decisions of this scale cannot be made by the PM acting alone.

  • mfwic

    I think John Key’s style can best be called ‘leading by following in front’. He didn’t really have any agenda or try to make any change other than the flag. His goal seemed to be to do whatever was popular. I guess that is the nature of MMP.

    • Ricardo

      Keys biggest claim to fame is leading NZ through the GFC largely unscathed. The decimation in the US and other western countries was very real, massive job loss, home losses, and NZ barely blinked. I shudder to think if anyone other than John and National had been at the helm.

      • Warren S

        In general terms I agree with that, but a National policy that favoured the development of public transport in Auckland and particularly rail to the key areas of the airport and the North Shore would not have altered the outcome of the Government’s steering through the GFC and would certainly have been more beneficial to Auckland’s quality of place, than the excessive motorways with which we have been bequeathed.

      • stu donovan

        richardo. Our ability to ride out the gfc was more to do with clark and cullen paying down govt debt. This meant that when gfc hit the national government of the day were able to ride the macro economic storm without major cuts to welfare and/or services.

        John key did a decent job of managing the recovery, but i wouldn’t give more credit than that.

        • Scott G

          And the fact that most of our banks are owned by the Aussie banks, which were far less exposed than US and UK/EU banks.

          Happy accidents for Key and Co, really.

        • Peter Nunns

          Plus a floating exchange rate, which means that shocks to our economic competitiveness can be offset by currency depreciation rather than grinding austerity and slowly falling wages. That’s an essential (and often overlooked) difference between our experience and that of small European countries like Finland.

          Or, to put it in other words, it would be a stupidly awful idea to enter a currency union with Australia. Just plain dangerous.

          • mfwic

            I think that is the main point. The GFC was a monetary crisis which the Australian banks didn’t take part in. It cause a contraction in most developed economies. But because we are not big on saving New Zealand never got a haircut. The overseas bank failures didn’t directly matter to us. The exchange rate insulated us from the rest. Really it had nothing to do with our government. They neither caused it nor did they fix it. It just wasn’t our turn.

      • Sailor Boy

        Popular myth, but false.

        We have 5 times more national debt per GDP. Reducing taxes on high income earners and increasing GST was the dumbest policy response imaginable to a recession.

        http://imgur.com/a/9BN97

        • Peter Nunns

          You need a proper comparison to make sense of that chart! Even after that increase, NZ has the fourth-lowest gross national debt as a percent of GDP in the OECD. In other words, we’ve got a relatively low level of public debt and the ratio only increased because we didn’t try to run headlong for austerity and budget cutbacks during a recession.

          The average OECD country has gross public debt equal to 111% of GDP. In NZ, that figure is 38%. Big difference. If another recession hits, we’re in a much better position to address it through fiscal measures.

          I would argue that we have benefitted from two of the OECD’s best Finance Ministers over the last generation:
          * Michael Cullen resisted the temptation to spend up big when times were good, choosing to pay down debt and save for the future instead. (Gordon Brown in the UK did the opposite via off-book PPPs, in spite of his flinty Scottish image.) This meant that…
          * Bill English had space to run deficits to counteract the post-GFC hangover and keep unemployment from rising to horrible levels, and, in contrast to many centre-right finance ministers, actually chose to do so. We could quibble about how he did this, eg through tax cuts, and whether he was too fast to try to cut spending, but the strategy was sound.

          In addition, both have had a focus on good quality public policies and evidence for decision-making. Personally, I think this leads to excessive conservatism at times, eg with Cullen needing serious arm-twisting from the Greens to fund Auckland’s rail network development. But it’s better than a reckless Muldoon-style approach by far.

          • Peter Nunns

            TL;DR: Cullen and English aren’t perfect. But look at the alternatives!

          • Sailor Boy

            Sure, we could well be much worse off, but a tax cut for high income earners and an increase to consumption tax is a monumentally stupid response to a recession. We’d be better off if we hadn’t changed those two IMHO.

            Ricardo’s claims were that NZ was relatively unscathed by the GFC. I suppose relatively we were, but that wasn’t due to particularly stunning management, more due to being in a really good position to start with.

          • Bigted

            Sailor Boy it was a tax cut for ALL income earners, high income earners got a bigger cut because that is how percentages work.

          • Peter Nunns

            Sure, I’m not a big fan of the ‘tax switch’ either, as I’d prefer a more progressive tax system on equity grounds. But that’s a totally different issue than increasing government debt during a serious recession, which is actually a *desirable* thing on Keynesian grounds.

            Like I said, I don’t think English (or Cullen) got everything right, but there were some important cases where they *did* make the right call while other finance ministers were doing radically different things.

          • Dan C

            Speaking of tax cuts, Bill English has announced more tax cuts to go live next year. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11320903

      • I think Cullen deserves a lot of credit for that as well as he was very determined to pay down debt which gave English more room to move, but I agree Key and English generally used this advantage wisely.

      • Alex F

        If Clark/Cullen had done the inevitable and seen Labour in for a fourth term, I don’t think we would be worse off. Labour are more fiscally responsible than you think – the days of Rogernomics are long gone and all those turncoats involved in that mess left to support ACT – National’s declining coalition partner

      • Ari

        Ricardo, you make me laugh because you comment without factual evidence. I’m not an expert, but Clark would have done just as good a job, borrowing money and spending it to get through the recession. That’s all JK did. Borrow a crapload of money which we have to pay back. Lets not forget that none of our aussie banks were heavily exposed to the bad loans that US banks were. NZ got through ok and it had very little to do with National.

      • Waspman

        Great article but one which ignores what was quietly going on away from prying eyes. Example (of one we found out about); He set NZ up as a tax haven, one for his ilk to exploit, a bolt hole for the rich and loathsome. A former honest broker nation host, who would have ever ever suspected us? Of course he denied it was a tax haven and of course black is white but he would have got away with that one were it not for the Panama Papers. Fact is we probably still are. After 8 years of watching Key and all the earnestness and promises to fix things when they get caught out doing something dodgy, safe in the knowledge that empty promises to rectify such things makes great press on the day I got to realise virtually nothing ever changes.

        And he was religious about the TPPA, Come hell or high water it was the ONE thing he was determined to commit us to and I think no matter what the fall out for him or National would have been. Something in that secretive agreement was his reason for being. Sadly for John some guy called Donald crashed the party!

  • Stranded on the North Shore

    One thing I truly hope is that Coleman doesn’t get to the top. He’s the biggest example of a corrupted NIMBY. He’s my MP, but has done zero for me and my neighbourhood. I’ve written to him a number of times, every time he refers to Auckland Transport, Auckland Council or NZTA – ie. he can never help. He’s anti-skypath because he lives in Northcote Point and yet he’s a Health Minister. Hypocrite if you ask me. We do not want these kind of people in the top position. I honestly hope he doesn’t get it.

    • Alex F

      Neither. As the MP for Northcote I wonder what his position is on the AT Metro livery for Birkenhead Transport buses

    • Nick

      I know what you mean, but living in Northcote Point is surely a reason to be pro-Skypath, not anti! It massively improves the amenity and attractiveness of the suburb, having a quick cycle and walking route into the CBD. I’m seriously thinking about moving there, or somewhere nearby, in a year or so.

    • SteveS

      Agree – Coleman’s done nothing to advance cycling on the Shore, which given his role as Minister of Health and Minister of Sport/Recreation is appalling. In particular, he’s failing to support a sound design for the Northcote Safe Cycle Route which runs past his front door in Northcote Point. Doesn’t like cycle lanes (locals would lose parking), doesn’t like traffic calming (so few cars and cyclists that motorists should be able to travel as fast as they like), and doesn’t want Northcote Point invaded by people from outside the area. Not for him 2,000 people a day using SkyPath and stopping to enjoy a drink at the Northcote Tavern – that’s for locals only. A parochial attitude to support his NRA mates if ever I saw one. Yes, he really does want to build a wall around Northcote Point: https://www.bikeauckland.org.nz/building-wall-making-rest-us-pay/

    • bjfoe

      Pitching himself as poster boy for generational change – that’s serious gall

  • “I’m sure that over the coming days and weeks there will probably be a nauseating amount of coverage about him, his decision and whoever his replacement ends up being.”

    I ugly cackled.

  • Matthew W

    Key has lead a doubling down of the politicisation of transport funding that was started under Clark. Cycleways was his best avhievement though as cycling really does require political backing. Id be surprised if he ever brought in road pricing given his aversion to controversy. His biggest failure was surely not dealing with the housing crisis back ai the start of his tenure when he had the chance and the political mandate.

  • JBM

    John Key appeared to advocate for Auckland at the most unexpected times. His party is clearly a roading club but If it wasn’t for Key overriding the buffoons who were transport ministers prior to that guy from Tauranga, then the CRL would never have got over the line. So that is one thing I am thankful for.

    His complete failure over the housing crisis is something I think stains his legacy (for me anyway). He had so much political capital that he could’ve used that to get some real measures in to sort out the lack of supply. The measures he has introduced are quite mild and simply gives the appearance that he doing something about it without actually doing very much.

    Bill English is more of a John Key guy but lord help public transport in Auckland if anyone else becomes the PM.

  • I note from the press that Simon Bridges is “keeping his powder dry” in respect of making his leadership aspirations known. At least what is left of it, given he might have used some in formulating that the answer to Auckland’s traffic woes is auto drive electric cars.

  • Harrymc

    John Key has always been about one thing and one thing only, and that is John Key. National party? New Zealand? Just things to be used for the greater good of John Key. So it was with transport: does it make me look good? Let’s do it.
    He’ll be off to Hawaii with barely a backwards glance.

  • J

    Key was America’s man for corporates (TPP being just one item on his instruction list from his visit to the American Fed). That’s all I need to know. Key took out one leg of the stool of govt/ business/worker – the working person’s rights to living wages – by deliberately seeking to reduce them. He destroyed the balance of our democracy.
    Building more roads and trying to ruin public transport proved to be an issue Key had to ‘fix’ once Len Brown forced the issue. Thank you Len.
    Yes I was shocked by Key’s resignation knowing what a vain beast he is wanting to beat Michael Joseph Savage’s time in government, although for every good thing Savage brought to New Zealanders John Key took it away. As National/Act representative Matthew Hooten readily acknowledged on Radio NZ on Monday politics, National was formed to get rid of Labour because it was fighting for ALL New Zealanders’ well-being. Key has already succeeded in reversing that. So, why would he bother to stay on? I’m ashamed Kiwis actually imagined he gave a damn about them. He donned a mask and played a role. Key, like Lange, played the host while business destroyed NZ egalitarianism under English/Joyce and Douglas/Richardson in the 80s and 90s.

    How could anyone have not understood that simple game plan by Key.The Queen’s going to be talking to him tonight, no doubt to organise his knighthood. What an insult to Sir Ed.
    The one thing above all that ‘sticks in my craw’ is the person on Radio NZ this morning from Key’s Helensville electorate saying that Key was an honest man. Crap. He was a multi-talented liar that, with the quiescence of the easily swayed ‘celebrity media’ types skewed New Zealand’s future. Hollow Men: If you tell a huge lie often enough people will believe it.

    • Bigted

      The TPP was started by Labour, John just happened to be the PM when it was time to sign it.

      • Yes – something that is conveniently forgotten when it doesn’t suit a particular argument. I believe it is still supported by a number of Labour MPs too.

        • JBM

          Former Prime Minister Helen Clark certainly supports it. She was the PM when TPP negotiations started. She reconfirmed her support for TPP earlier this year in the heat of the debate.

    • Matt P

      Self centred middle NZ has done very well out of John Key, especially well propertied Baby Boomers.
      He’s a clever man, he found a niche that works even if it was at the expense of NZ’s future.

    • Jon – Savage was Prime Minister for five years (1935 – 40), Key has comfortably passed that.

    • Vance Barrett

      TPP that was supported by Helen Clark, David Shearer, Phil Goff and others within Labour.
      Right to a living wage? Where did you hear that?
      Too bad for all those with qualifications and experience already on $19.80. Guess they won’t get a wage increase to maintain relativity?
      John Key is a highly respected leader on the world stage.
      Your views don’t equate with the majority of New Zealanders. His personal poll rating reflects his popularity.

  • Guy M

    John Key? Meh. Over it. He was bland, and that’s why people liked him, because he appeared to be a “man of the people” even if he was really nothing like it. He was our Trump-lite, the Trump you have when you don’t have a Trump. The best thing he has ever done was the timing of his retirement. Its nice to catch the media off guard, and to leave on your own terms, in a slow news week. Just in time for Christmas.

    But I’m very concerned that people are backing Bill English as a potential leader. Tried him once, it absolutely didn’t work. He’s a hopeless, bland leader. Met him once, and he was pathetic. No clue. He is a dairy farmer from Dipton, for Chrisake. I still think that his financial stewardship is more down to good luck and good assistants, than any natural “financial genius” within those brows. But he is certainly no statesman, no orator, no Obama for sure! Is he a master strategist, charting the way forward for a more prosperous New Zealand? Or would he just concentrate on things he knows best, like selling more milk solids to China, selling more logs to China, selling off NZ to China? We need someone with a lot more vision than English heading our wee country.

    • Sacha

      Met him once at an event. Sharper than I expected and even though I disagree with his ideology he did listen to what people raised and actually got their concerns acted on by cabinet. Boring as crap via radio or TV, and I usually end up turning off.

    • Sacha

      Talking English, in case not clear. Joyce always the strategist, and Key the salesman.

    • Matt P

      Key was fantastic for the wealthy establishment, and Middle NZ older than say mid 40s.
      But his govt’s inaction on housing has set up Auckland for some massive social and economic headwinds.

    • I met him earlier this year, he’s very on to it from my observation, been working away behind the scenes on a social investment programme that I suspect will be more transformational for those in poverty than anything since Savage. It’s just not sexy or likely to deliver obvious benefits for a few years so it doesn’t get much attention. Agree regarding his leadership charisma though – I think people will fall asleep watching a debate between him and Little next year!

  • Matt P

    So in terms of urban issues, I would say Key and his government have been a massive failure on housing.
    Dogmatic belief in supply and ‘the market’ at the expense of any action on demand side measures.

  • This government’s lack of attention to housing until they absolutely had to (endless press of people living in cars) was a sad reflection of their almost absolute focus on improving the lot of their support base. However most caring Kiwis will in time view them with disdain for the rapid escalation between rich and poor, which if it continues could well lead to instability on a wide scale as we have seen with the disaffected in parts of Europe and the States.

    • Guy M

      I think that the precise moment of when he decided to leave around Christmas, was when he was getting endless press about people living in cars. That was Key’s “I’m outta here” moment.

  • Dan C

    I can’t believe he’s not wearing a helmet when riding a bike. Does he want to clog up the dutch healthcare system with needless emergency neurosurgery? The guys a lunatic, well it’s either that or our helmet laws…

  • Sacha

    At today’s sod-turning of the holiday highway project, Simon Bridges reverts to his party’s fossil line – wants to build a 4-lane highway all the way to Whangarei: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11763178

    Warning: contains lies, wishful thinking and Orsmanery.

    • Tony

      In the world of vision zero and all that, it’s exactly what that route calls for. Be careful of what you wish for and that stuff…

    • tuktuk

      ‘Simon Bridges reverts to his party’s fossil line’
      Simon looked to be wanting to book himself the deputy leadership. His reverting to the standard National party line is a sad reflection of the opinions of those who do the moving and shaking within the National Party. The people Simon has to impress.

  • And some still think that Minister Roads and Bridges will do anything worthwhile for public transport -there just won’t be any money left?

  • So what’s the BCR Bigted?

  • Dan C

    Oh great are they planning to ban cars from northcote point for skypath? Does this include residents or will there be some sort of security gate or bollard to let them in with swipecard access? If this is a success we could expand it and make the whole isthmus a car free zone. Thats really what everyone here has been advocating for. Question is would you allow motorbikes on the isthmus? What about ebikes, or keep the isthmus purely pedal powered?

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