Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The Minister's Brain Has Exploded

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  • Christopher Dempsey,

    Sorry for the late arrival to the conversation...

    Napoleon personally designed his officer’s uniforms, just sayin’.

    OMGoodness. Last night at Shed 10 someone in the know was telling me that Napoleon chose the colour of the uniforms. I thought tosh! that's micromanagement to the nth degree and ridiculously stupid. It seems not.

    Do they have any idea what this will cost? As noted, there are ships booked to dock on those wharves with maybe over a billion dollars of cargo in the next five weeks.

    They'll have to be rescheduled, port users compensated, freight trucked from Wellington and Tauranga, compensation paid, workers paid to sit idle.

    Wearing my elected rep hat: Not much. Cooks Wharf piles can't support much more than a thousand parked cars or so, so at most, all that will happen is that the cars will be delayed for a few days or so. Hardly an imposition.

    If the ABs win good and get to the semis or finals, then Cooks wharf will be bought into play. Presumably at the same time as a ferocious southerly is whipping through there.

    However, he and the Councillors share responsibility for not adequately verifying the assurances they were fed by the staff who report to them and to the CCO Boards largely appointed by the govt.

    But hang on, how does an elected representative verify what his/her highly paid, experten officials are telling them? isn't that what you have the bloody officials for?

    Still wearing my hat: Yes. That's why we pay them huge amounts of money. However, we do know that officers are not infallible, so we can and do 'square' them when we know what we are being told just doesn't ring true. In a way, Elected Reps are a check on officers analysis mostly.

    Getting contestable advice from other experts is a challenge for anyone in a governance role.

    Short answer - we can't. Hard to do in a small country where the professional elite knows everyone else. This can be a problem.

    Joshua Arbury reports in his usual comprehensive fashion after attending the committee meeting.

    While I wasn't able to be at this meeting, I also understand that ATEED emphasised that they were planning for everything to do within 'their' footprint, which holds around 50K, and did not plan anything for numbers outside of their 'footprint'.

    Ummm, who plans like this? Particularly when you get easily 50-70k up Q St protesting a government and 200k at the Christmas show in the Domain?

    Doffing said hat and speaking in personal capacity;

    I get that there are elements in Auckland Transport and the Council who have ideological issues with the current framework, but they really need to get the fuck over it and stop treating Veolia like the enemy.

    There are two issues here. Firstly, operational staff. They have borne the brunt of some anger. Secondly, there is management, who get paid presumably handsomely for doing on the face of it, very little. Ensuring there is strong communications on the platform / within carriages, or ensuring staff are supported and motivated seem to be missing from management tasks. In summary, the enemy is Veolia management. Particularly when I suspect they are taking the fat end of a $35m 'management fee' paid by ratepayers to run the trains.

    I checked out Queen’s Wharf last night. Nothing about it inspired me to go back. The place was cold and soul-less, serving all drinks in plastic cups from an extremely limited selection (no spirits!) in a big barn with rugby playing at rock concert volumes on large screens. Food was available from kiosks if you like to eat standing up. There was a huge amount of empty space. It felt like a car parking lot. Actually, from the lines painted on the ground, I’m pretty sure it was a parking lot.

    I went searching for a bar that would actually be nice to sit down and have a drink in. It took 1 min to find one. I tried a few others. My conclusion is that Auckland has surplus capacity for serving drinks with the TV on, and it will not be at all long before every visitor discovers this and bypasses Heineken Central.

    I've been twice, the last time yesterday evening to watch the Canada vs Tonga game (which, NOT being a rugby fan, was inspired watching in complete contrast to the plodding Argentina vs England game). Both times the place was relaxed and had a certain low key buzz I found. The major stumbling block is the lack of seating. The younger amongst the crowd yesterday evening simple sat on the floor. Otherwise I enjoyed myself. It is a booze barn, but with loads of space and loads of tellys everywhere the place was, well, relaxed. As for the noise, our group could chat away, but that was during the game itself. I haven't been when there has been music on, but I imagine it would fairly echo around the place if turned up loud.

    Parnell / Tamaki-Auckland… • Since Sep 2008 • 659 posts Report Reply

  • Biobbs, in reply to Roger Lacey,

    I spotted him down at party central about 2pm surveying his domain and fending off tourists who wanted Ronnie Corbett’s autograph.

    - with fork handles?

    The River Mouth, Denmark • Since Jan 2011 • 114 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Christopher Dempsey,

    Ummm, who plans like this?

    Hide-bound fools.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19683 posts Report Reply

  • DexterX, in reply to Russell Brown,

    It's pretty clear now that his stunt on Tuesday is regarded as a brain explosion by even his colleagues.

    I would doubt that Murray McCully - Special Envoy for Beloved First Citizen has the initiative or the freedom to exercise a brain explosion - he does what he is told albeit with much devotion.

    I think the thrust of all this is an inner sanctum strategic political decision with the most beloved First Citizen John Key the First giving it the green light – the desire for the First Party to be seen as taking control of a situation that was all Len Browne’s fault being the paramount consideration.

    Some people saw the massive over play for what it was, and is now being toned down somewhat. Murray McCully - Special Envoy for Beloved First Citizen of the National New Zealand People’s Democratic Republic say sorry to Mayor Browne; we working together all holding hand every people happy now.

    All strategic decision made by the most beloved First Citizen John Key the First are essentially fluid and without structure – decisions on “policy” and “direction” are made with an eye on how they are received by the electorate and how they are likely to evolve politically and be viewed by voters this close to the election.

    It is noteworthy that the Chch quake inquests, the Pike River inquiry and Terrorism charges are all to a degree packaged away at this time,

    What makes me laugh most is that some of the ministerial cars and executive limos couldn't get into Eden Park, they had the wrong stickers, and had to drop their precious cargo a fair distance from the gates where that cargo was left to walk. Classic.common touch.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1224 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Eade,

    We've been world champions since 1956, no wonder we're rugby "CRAZY".
    In 1956 grounds would be full 4-5 hours before kick off. Our rugby tears are as crazy as any afrikaners. The nats don't understand how Auckland move and why, neither do Aucklanders really, it's an unpredictable city ruled by its weather.

    auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 1112 posts Report Reply

  • DexterX,

    Perhaps most beloved First Citizen John Key the First and his inner sanctum are realising that Auckland's infrastructure woes can't be fixed by RWC special powers and whatever is done short term won';t solve what is essentially a long term problem.

    Hmm, perhaps not.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1224 posts Report Reply

  • Christopher Dempsey,

    I've heard that people who organised and got to where they wanted to go in good time actually got there. The problems occurred when, you know, us Aucklanders, the majority, think, oh, I'll just jump on the 5pm train and I'll be sweet. In the case of one AB player's Mum, she wasn't.

    Parnell / Tamaki-Auckland… • Since Sep 2008 • 659 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Christopher Dempsey,

    I've read stories of people who allowed 3-4 hours grace and spent all of them trapped on the Southern line. Through no fault of theirs.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19683 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Eade,

    I mean you can see by the record released today a long succession of incidents that may have lead to major tragedy , imagine if there had been deaths on the line, that had to be investigated. If it was your call you'd investigate right?

    Who pulled the alarms and why, who walked on the tracks, who is that ignorant or wear their real problems in the carriages? What was going on in the carriagesl?

    auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 1112 posts Report Reply

  • webweaver,

    On a slightly lighter note - Hitler has of course found out about the Opening Night fiasco:

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 331 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Sacha,

    Hide-bound fools.

    I should elaborate on that pun. Auckland's 'supercity' changes weakened geographic silos but strengthened functional ones in local government. The region's restructuring brought together staff of similar functions like transport or events into the new CCOs and into the huge new Council's various departments.

    During today's parliamentary 'debate' Phil Twyford reminded that several government agencies explicitly argued against Auckland's transport functions being split from the council into a CCO. It just adds another layer into a situation already messed up by 1980s/90s corporatisation that splits service providers from policymakers and funders for largely ideological reasons.

    These layers reduce responsiveness and accountability. And we've seen that play out this week.

    In parallel to the supercity changes and their precursors like the 'One Plan', Auckland's former Councils and CCO agencies started working together years ago to plan the event for the Auckland region, collaborating closely with central govt agencies and the Rugby World Cup 2011 company. That's just like other regions have done, but with added complexity from being the only place large enough to accommodate sufficient visitors to satisfy the IRB for the opening or finals events, and to leverage associated economic opportunities as our only world-scale city. There aren't enough beds or businesses in Christchurch, Wellington or Hamilton.

    For the tournament, the buck is ultimately meant to stop in two places: the RWC Minister and Mayor of Auckland Council. However the current government set up the supercity so Council has an arms-length relationship where it is only meant to set and monitor CCO strategic priorities, and their own Boards (appointed mainly by the government) decide how their staff will deliver. In turn, they often have to negotiate with contracted suppliers (such as Veolia or event companies) over what the end customer - us - is provided. It can be an awfully long chain from any citizen's experience to where the buck stops.

    In effect, a lot of effort and goodwill has gone into making relationships work more sensibly than that. However, it seems natural that some of the professional silos remain and if anything are strengthened by the new structure.

    To me, that helps explain some of the issues like ATEED only paying attention to the 'footprint' they had decided on (without proper demand forecasting , which seems inexcusably unprofessional for an event of this scale). Like the sheer lack of thought about how to simultaneously deliver people to the stadium, to the hyped waterfront and to normal working day destinations (and even scheduling the event on a regular workday at all). Like not ensuring everyone was working to the same overall numbers.

    There are coordination failures there for sure. And some pretty basic delivery ones. However, putting it right gives a chance to work closer together and to forge a more united purpose.

    That's why the pissy trust-destroying antics of McCully and his colleagues this week are so deeply disappointing - and for what gain?

    Government has every right to step up to make sure this event that reflects so much on them is delivered properly - and there are clearly some howling failures that deserve deeper accountability after the event is safely wrapped up (and perhaps we'll see some govt-appointed CCO Board members symbolically replaced).

    As I've said, there are also some great lessons for the city in a couple of decades, especially for its form and connectedness; its transport links and the way people enjoy its spaces and each other.

    Without losing sight of those opportunities, I'd welcome us focusing for now on the spirit of celebration that has been so obvious throughout the country, and being great hosts for our treasured visitors. That's something all the cultures and people that make up this wonderful place have in common. We deserve leaders who reflect that to the world.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19683 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Eade,

    Public transport- Auckland - an idea in slow evolution.

    auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 1112 posts Report Reply

  • Christopher Dempsey, in reply to Sacha,

    Without losing sight of those opportunities, I'd welcome us focusing for now on the spirit of celebration that has been so obvious throughout the country, and being great hosts for our treasured visitors. That's something all the cultures and people that make up this wonderful place have in common. We deserve leaders who reflect that to the world.

    Hear Hear!

    Parnell / Tamaki-Auckland… • Since Sep 2008 • 659 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Sacha,

    When the going gets weird...

    Government has every right to step up to make sure this event that reflects so much on them is delivered properly

    You mean they will have put together a - gasp - Final Solution!

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7887 posts Report Reply

  • webweaver, in reply to Sacha,

    +1

    * gives Sacha a standing ovation *

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 331 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Sacha,

    I'd welcome us focusing for now on the spirit of celebration that has been so obvious throughout the country, and being great hosts for our treasured visitors.

    Excellent sentiment, though I'm reminded of the little card that was doing the rounds during the relatively hitch-free Sydney Olympics. A sketch depicting an assorted group of vacantly smiling citizens beneath the games logo bore the caption "Take your medication. Our foreign visitors must suspect nothing".

    Once it's over, with a little luck Aucklanders won't bother to look out the window the next time they hear fireworks, as they'll be partied out.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4591 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    One moment John Armstrong is cheerleading Key, the next moment he's cheerleading... Goff. Heel face revolving door, or just a double reverse quadruple agent? ;D

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5416 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    One moment John Armstrong is cheerleading Key, the next moment he's cheerleading... Goff.

    But, but ... I thought Mr Key and his government had delivered a "killer blow"? Did the Prime Minister misplace his "big stick" between Wednesday and Thursday?

    Sigh ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22749 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    I (uncharitably) suspect John Armstrong woke up with a raging hangover, checked the Herald, and couldn't believe he actually clicked "publish" on his first piece, so he thought he had better bang out something by way of trying to reestablish his credibility.

    Either that or Alzheimers.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2212 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    Either that or Alzheimers.

    He probably started reading the comments attached to his diatribe. I even ventured to respond and I like to think I'm relatively passive, but I have become passive agressive lately with that man ;)

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    reestablish his credibility

    I lol'd.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    I'd take the general sycophancy and incoherence as par for the course, but what are the journalists of the NZ media doing missing this story?

    (hat tip: Juha)

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    Mushroom, mushroom, SNA-A-A-AKE!

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2930 posts Report Reply

  • Richard Aston, in reply to Sacha,

    Thank you Sacha for laying out the overview so well and nailing this current mess back to its true origins ie

    corporatisation that splits service providers from policymakers and funders for largely ideological reasons.

    I'm right there with Webweaver giving you a standing ovation .

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 509 posts Report Reply

  • recordari, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    I'd take the general sycophancy and incoherence as par for the course, but what are the journalists of the NZ media doing missing this story?

    Yes, that was the other vertical integration story that I anticipated the waterfront fracas to be d-wharfed by.

    <coat>

    ETA:

    I'm right there with Webweaver giving you a standing ovation .

    +1.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

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