by Jeanette Fitzsimons
We look forward to more announcements from this very busy government that schools will buy chalk this year, trains will refuel, nurses worn out uniforms will be replaced and the harbour bridge repainted. The press secretaries will be working overtime. It is, of course, entirely a good thing that Transpower will do essential maintenance on their towers and substations. We hope it includes rusty D shackles too. We sleep well in our beds, knowing the lights are likely to go on again tomorrow.
But it’s hardly the stuff of major government announcements.
Transpower is in charge of its own maintenance programme and its funding. We pay for it through our power bills. The fact that is has decided, after a litle talk with the minister, to accelerate its maintenance programme planned for the next ten years is Transpower’s decision and funded by Transpower. Yet it was the subject of major government spin, before and after the announcement. There’s no new money here and no government money – just a common sense acceleration of maintenance, which we applaud.
There has been quite a lot of smoke and mirrors around the Infrastructure package, much of which is not new money. Commitments of the previous government have been rubbished because they had not yet been through a budget process but somehow the Infrastructure package, which hasn’t either, is “funded” while insulating homes out of the Emissions Trading Scheme electricity revenues was “unfunded”.
I’m sure most people will take from yesterday’s preview and today’s announcement, “Great – the government is going to fix up our electricity system”.