My regular column in the New Zealand Truth:
The Government’s decision to go ahead with the Waterview motorway extension will certainly be doing nothing to help National’s chances in the Mt Albert by-election.
If it goes ahead, the Transport Agency’s preferred option will see 365 properties demolished and $1.4 billion squandered on a motorway slashing through the heart of a residential community.
Avondale Community Board chair Duncan McDonald is already talking direct action. ‘They won’t get a motorway,’ he is quoted as saying, ‘The people will lay down in front of bulldozers.”
Adding fuel to an already heated debate, National’s candidate Melissa Lee made her extraordinary statement to the effect that the new motorway may help stop criminals coming through from South Auckland to commit crimes in Mt Albert.
I have to say I’ve been around a while, but this is the first time I’ve ever heard of motorways as a solution to crime. And of course this generalised reflection on the citizens of Manukau, of whom I’m currently one, is prejudiced and absurd in the extreme.
While Ms Lee did have the courtesy to later apologise for her outlandish remarks, I doubt that she is still the golden girl of the Right that she was a month or two ago. Just a wee while back all the talk around Parliament was of her being the only NZ MP to make the list of most beautiful legislators in the world.
In the tough world of politics beauty sure helps, but it’s not enough without a certain amount of common sense attached.
Meanwhile, back to motorway madness.
There is no doubt that investing $1.4b in improving Auckland’s transport would be a great thing for jobs, business and community wellbeing.
However, we Greens think the same amount of money would be far better spent on public transport projects like building a rail line from Avondale to Onehunga, something that can be done without demolishing houses; creating a rail link from Onehunga to the airport; and improving busways on crowded local arterial routes.
The one good thing about the motorway decision and Ms Melissa Lee’s unfortunate observations may well be that local voters will think twice before voting for a candidate and a party so committed to the Waterview project.
Green solutions like those being put forward by our Mt Albert candidate Russel Norman are the only sane hope for a better future on the Auckland transport front.
The price of oil will keep going up. The cost of driving around in individual motor vehicles will become increasingly prohibitive for many of us.
If we want to future proof our city in the face of climate change and recession the best thing we can do is reject the never ending building of motorways as a solution to anything – whether crime or congestion.