The answer to Russel’s first question

by frog

Appropriately Russel asked his first ever parliamentary question in the house today of Minister of Transport, Annette King.  The two of them both live in Rongotai electorate in south and east Wellington. They virtually share the same bus service. After his primary question, and King’s standard Government answer where she underfunding on a National Government that was voted out nearly 9 years ago, and a series of government patsy questions, Russel got to follow up with a few supplementary questions.

The draft transcript doesn’t quite capture how much he appeared to irk King:

Dr Russel Norman: When will the Ministers of this Government get out of their Crown cars, catch the bus to work as I did this morning, and realise that the public transport system is groaning and bursting at the seams as, owing to higher petrol prices, people get out of their cars and try to catch a bus or train to work, only to find that the system has been underfunded and under-invested in for many, many years?

Hon ANNETTE KING: I suggest that the member first directs his anger at the lack of investment in passenger transport right throughout the 1990s. He may have noticed that I said the amount was $40 million a year. In the 9 years that Labour has been in Government there has been considerable investment in passenger transport, and we are committed to doing more. So I feel a little aggrieved at the attack on our funding of passenger transport. I also say to the member that a large number of my colleagues walk to work; others, including me, have a bus ticket and have caught the bus to work…

Dr Russel Norman: Has the Minister received any advice that there is a connection between the woeful underfunding of public transport in this country and the fact that five party leaders of five political parties in this Parliament are driven around each day in Crown cars, and have no idea what it is like out there because they do not know what is going on with public transport?

Hon ANNETTE KING: That is a very unfortunate assumption to make about party leaders in this Parliament. I think the member is drawing a long bow to say they do not know what is happening in terms of passenger transport. I can certainly speak for the Prime Minister, who is very aware of passenger transport, and is very aware of being responsible for the Northern Busway, which was one of the biggest public transport projects ever funded in New Zealand, and which was funded by this Government. I believe that many members in this House are very aware of the importance of public transport, and I suggest we ought to work together on that issue, rather than that member whipping up a political storm for political purposes.

[Edit] I’ve just added video footage of this question to go with the transcript. Also, continue to feel free to let me know about any Cabinet Ministers you spot on the bus.

frog says

Published in Environment & Resource Management | Parliament | Video by frog on Tue, July 1st, 2008   

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