Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Track to the Future

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  • Craig Ranapia,

    Cullen has made the point that it makes more sense for the government to subsidise a public enterprise than a private one. But how much needs spending and how freight will be wooed off the roads and onto rail (shades of the Muldoon era!) remains to be seen.

    And it would be nice if someone actually bothered asking the question -- once more, the media seem fixated on the politics (Labour going to get a poll bounce off this? You betcha!) while the tiresome questions about where the billions of dollars in new spending is going to come from. As for the argument that "it makes more sense for the government to subsidise a public enterprise than a private one", would you care to expand on that?

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    This whole gays can't get married thing is really silly. The most formal wedding I ever went to was for a couple of lesbian friends (or rather family) - it was in California so no legal marriage - My kids asked me the other day (7 years later) "are they really married?" because they were part of the ceremony as small kids. On the other hand in California we had 2 female neighbours who were legally married (one had used to be a man - apparently there it's not BEING married that's illegal it's GETTING married that is).

    I think the right societal compromise is NOT civil unions - it ought to be marriage for everyone - I understand there are some people for whom there are religious issue and I think we should allow them to refuse to marry people in their churches if their religion has a problem - but they shouldn't be allowed to tell other people what to do in their churches (or whereever)

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2622 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    As for the argument that "it makes more sense for the government to subsidise a public enterprise than a private one", would you care to expand on that?

    The government bought back the network from Toll, which made it clear it could not and would not make the investment necessary to keep the tracks in good order. Toll seemed to further be of the view that it couldn't maintain services on a purely commercial basis, and would need subsidies. Cullen figured that it made more sense for the taxpayer to support a business owned by the taxpayer, rather than hand money to Australian shareholders.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • horse,

    Various studies report different numbers, but the general trend is consistent: trucking pays less of the wear and tear on its infrastructure than rail does. Adjust charging regimes to balance these and long-distance freight will migrate to rail.

    Palmerston North • Since Feb 2007 • 32 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Presumably, Rudd fears the kind of destructive hellfight Labour encountered here when it made the move: he wants to preserve his popular public image from a campaign by the forces of angry conservatism. And that, really, is the problem with a strategy of government based solely on maintaining popularity.

    No, it is the problem with a strategy of utter cowardice. All I'll say is this: Thank God Fran Wilde had the (metaphorical) balls to realise that you can't win a battle when you're not even willing to start fighting.

    If I had to choose between Brian The Bish and the dim duo of Rudd and Nelson, I'll always go for the shit who will spit in your face over the ones who will stab you in back at the first murmur of discontent from a focus group.

    And while I don't mean to personalise this Russell, you and Fiona are good people and fine parents. And you're no less so because you chose not to get married. But please note the emphasis -- you got to make that choice for yourself. Unlike Grant Robertson, I don't think being told to sit at the back of the bus -- as opposed to being thrown under the wheels -- is anything to applaud.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I think the right societal compromise is NOT civil unions - it ought to be marriage for everyone - I understand there are some people for whom there are religious issue and I think we should allow them to refuse to marry people in their churches if their religion has a problem - but they shouldn't be allowed to tell other people what to do in their churches (or whereever)

    My darling and I celebrate 20 years of unmarried bliss this year. And as someone who hasn't felt the need for marriage, I'm prepared to accept that many people do think that "marriage" is strictly between a man and a woman. Whatever. The key thing to me is the ability to have a relationship formally recognised, and I'm not that bothered about what it's called. And anyway, who doesn't call a civil union ceremony a wedding these days anyway?

    The only sound argument against civil unions is the argument for gay marriage; I have no problem with that. I just don't feel that strongly about marriage as to regard civil unions as the "back of the bus".

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Mike Graham,

    So while the Govt tries to make rail work, the Auckland City Council seem to be trying to stop any progress on getting more Aucklanders using rail for commuting. Rudman doesn't always make sense, but this time he does. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/466/story.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=10507960

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 206 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    I mostly agree - but if you want to have "Civil Unions" and "Marriage" as different forms of recognising partnerships that's great - it's just that both those options should be open to everyone - anything else is discrimination

    There is a religious issue here and I think that acknowledging it and giving the Destinies et al an out is the right way to do it

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2622 posts Report Reply

  • Mike Graham,

    sorry, seemed to have stuffed the link in the previous post - it's Brian Rudman in the Herald talking about Westfield's non-notified resource consent for downtown Auckland.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 206 posts Report Reply

  • FletcherB,

    I got married before civil unions were an option... But I was married by a non-church celebrant in a public park, and neither my wife or I attend church... I would probably have opted for a civil union if it was available.

    If chuches want to reclaim marriage as a religious/holy thing, a union between man, woman, and god, or however they like to say it.... Then thats fine, but they should be protesting against me and my wife as much as they are against gay couples.

    I'd be quite happy if anyone can get married, or if only church-goers could, and Civil Union or whatever other name you want use was the only option available to ALL couples outside a church...

    But the current situation, where I can choose to get married or have a cvil union, but someone else cant make that same choice is wrong.

    West Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 893 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    I'm prepared to accept that many people do think that "marriage" is strictly between a man and a woman.

    Sure, just as I'm sure there are any number of ageist, racist religious bigots out there who would have found my (49 year-old Maori Protestant) father and (27 year old white Catholic) mother's marriage icky on multiple fronts. The Marriage Act has nothing to say about it, and shouldn't do so.

    There is a religious issue here and I think that acknowledging it and giving the Destinies et al an out is the right way to do it.

    Well, Paul, no religious body is required to 'recognise' any marriage contracted in non-conformity to their doctrine and practice. Civil law, however, takes a different point of view. At least it should, unless someone turned this country into a theocracy with a state religion and I didn't notice.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Sure, just as I'm sure there are any number of ageist, racist religious bigots out there who would have found my (49 year-old Maori Protestant) father and (27 year old white Catholic) mother's marriage icky on multiple fronts. The Marriage Act has nothing to say about it, and shouldn't do so.

    Fair enough. I should make clear that my preference would have been for same-sex marriage. I'm just not that exercised about the difference.

    (Although my darling is, in a negative sense -- she has no interest in marriage, but was countenancing a CU on principle during the whole legislative furore.)

    But -- serious question, not a wind-up -- isn't your other problem that the church in which you have placed your faith wouldn't facilitate or bless a same-sex marriage, no matter what the law said?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    ..Auckland City Council seem to be trying to stop any progress on getting more Aucklanders using rail for commuting.

    Somebody stuffed up, clearly, in not designating that rail corridor in time. Mind you, with all the schemes, some barking mad, suggested in Auckland, you could probably block any development for years: <i>"sorry, you can't build a new garage, Birkenhead is designated as the site for New Zealand Disneyland"</i>.

    It is possible to build underground railways under tower blocks, BTW, if you design around them. The World Trade Center had the PATH under it.

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

  • Andrew Smith,

    "(Oh, and when National, as it inevitably will, demands to know why the government should be subsidising the network at all...)

    Good grief Russell. Putting words into the mouths of the National Party even before they are uttered?. You are becoming prophetic. Anyway, National will just bluster and try not to come up with a policy anyway; as is their norm lately.

    Since Jan 2007 • 150 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    Craig I understand that but what I'm trying to do here is to suggest a way out here - I think that civil law should not discriminate and having 'marriage' only being available to straight couples is barbaric - civil law shouldn't care whether marriages or civil unions are performed in a church or not.

    Maybe we should go to the French style of marriage where there are two ceremonies - a civil one at the town hall and a formal one usually in a church.

    There are a bunch of people who throw their hands up at the thought of 'gay marriage' - I think we should give them an out by simply saying that while the state may accept all unions we don't require that their god does - those denominations that want to keep fighting over the issue will (like the Anglicans for example), but it will be their problem rather than ours, others wont even consider it a possibility and some will welcome gay people into their churches and get them hitched. Athiests like me will make our own decisions for ourselves not having to bother with what the various religions think I should do

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2622 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Then thats fine, but they should be protesting against me and my wife as much as they are against gay couples.

    Indeed, FletcherB. IN a perverse way, I don't see why the Maxim Institution and Density Churchers weren't applauding the Civil Unions Bill (which effectively kills same-sex civil marriage as an electoral issue) and turned their attention to the real threat to the institution of marriage.

    No-fault divorce.

    After all, back in the good old days, a major disincentive to the dissolution of marriage was that it was a lengthy, humiliating and very public process that carried a significant social and legal stigma. But I guess that's a harder sell than apocalyptic predictions of the slippery slope to polygamous harems of farm animals and little children.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • James Green,

    Plz Mistuh Cullenz, can I haz mah Southerner back.

    (also, if you could see fit to work out why in the new millennium we can't get a passenger train that can go faster than either the old Vulcan railcar or a steam JA-hauled passenger train).

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 703 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    But -- serious question, not a wind-up -- isn't your other problem that the church in which you have placed your faith wouldn't facilitate or bless a same-sex marriage, no matter what the law said?

    Not a wind-up at all, but a perfectly fair question: The answer is 'no', 'no' and that's another front where the fight is probably going to carry on long after my dust is polluting the waters off North Head. :)

    But unlike many of my co-religionists, I do have a grip on the line between Church and State, and why it matters. It is a perfectly legitimate exercise of ecclesiastical authority for the Catholic Bishops Conference to forbid Catholic clergy, or church property, to be used in the commission of a same-sex marriage (or any marriage ceremony between a man and a woman, for that matter). That can change, just as it once would have been utterly unthinkable for my parents to marry in a Catholic church.

    But if we're talking about civil marriage, then I still think we've got to get our heads around the notion that we already live in a pluralistic society. The Marriage Act does not -- and as far as I'm aware never has -- put a religious qualification on whether marriages are legally valid.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    Maybe we should go to the French style of marriage where there are two ceremonies - a civil one at the town hall and a formal one usually in a church.

    That implies that religion has something to do with it. Legally, it doesn't. People can celebrate their marriage in a church if they feel like it, but as far as the law is concerned, it's a purely civil affair: pay a fee, say "I AB take you CD to be my partner" ("or words to that effect"), sign a piece of paper, and you're done. If people want to bring god into it, then that's their own business.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1716 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    The Marriage Act does not -- and as far as I'm aware never has -- put a religious qualification on whether marriages are legally valid.

    Nope - and in fact it does the opposite: it's an offence to deny or impugn the validity of a lawful marriage (a clause which IIRC was driven by anti-Catholic bigotry in the early C20th, and which we should do away with as it is an affront to free speech).

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1716 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    I think the god bit is voluntary in France - one can just have the civil ceremony.

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

  • Idiot Savant,

    (also, if you could see fit to work out why in the new millennium we can't get a passenger train that can go faster than either the old Vulcan railcar or a steam JA-hauled passenger train)

    Hills. And bendy bits. And shitty track. If you want fast trains, you need straight, level track, which would mean a significant capital investment.

    OTOH with peak oil increasing road and rail transport prices, we might need to make that investment. It would at least be worth looking at what we'd need to put in a TGV link between Auckland and Hamilton (for various reasons, the maintrunk is a non-starter there).

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1716 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    (also, if you could see fit to work out why in the new millennium we can't get a passenger train that can go faster than either the old Vulcan railcar or a steam JA-hauled passenger train).

    Hear hear. I suspect the way we'll get a decent viable rail service around the country is if the government invests umpteen million and moves us onto fast rail. I'd take a lot more trains (more than well, none), if they could get me to Christchurch inside of three hours, and went at least a couple of times up and down each day. I don't have any idea how much that'd cost, but it'd be nice to find out.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Don Christie,

    From RS:

    Lessig is also known as a digital communist

    .

    Welcome to the revolution, brother.

    That being said, the fact the Lessig is writing Obama's technology policy, whilst Gates is reputably with the Clintons puts me very firmly in the Obama camp (not that I have or want a say).

    Clinton really does look like Ancien RĂ©gime material.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1645 posts Report Reply

  • Public Servant on a tea-break.,

    < (also, if you could see fit to work out why in the new millennium we can't get a passenger train that can go faster than either the old Vulcan railcar or a steam JA-hauled passenger train).>

    Good question. I have been assured that the limit to speed on New Zealand rail is not the engines employed, but the nature of the track.

    When the line was being put in around the turn of the 20th Century, the engineers employed by the Liberal government costed putting a camber on the line, to enable trains to travel faster around bends in the track. The cost of bedding this in proved too expensive, so the track was laid flat, limiting New Zealand rail speeds ever since. To fix it at this point, an immense project would be required to lift the rail line, and reshape the beds that they sit on right across the country.

    So in short: blame King Dick Seddon.

    At least, that is the story I was told.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2008 • 67 posts Report Reply

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