Monday, April 06, 2009

The joke is over

Back in February, John Key stunned us all with his vision for getting New Zealand out of recession: a cycleway the length of New Zealand. For $50 million, we'd supposedly get 3,700 jobs and vast piles of cash from foreign tourists eager to ride their bicycles (where they'd come from, with the world in recession, was conveniently not mentioned). But now the joke seems to be over. On Q&A on Sunday morning, Bill English said that it was not going to be funded:

Mr English also indicated that although a start would be made this year on Mr Key's idea of a national network of cycleways, spending on it would be nothing like the $50 million originally estimated as the cost.

"It will start smaller and as confidence builds and the economy improves, it can grow bigger," he said.

"We won't be spending $50 million on it this year or next year or the year after."

Which means that it won't be producing those supposed jobs this year or next year or the year after either. As a recession-busting project, the cycleway is officially dead. I wonder where John Key will ride his tricycle now?

But while the cycleway joke is over, the bigger joke is on us. Because now the government doesn't even have a joke of a policy to tackle the recession. All they have is a PR program to redirect funding from one set of roads to the other while pretending it is "new spending" - the very definition of "rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic". But I guess the recession doesn't look so bad when you have a guaranteed $243,000 a year Ministerial salary (more than eight times the median income) - or if you have $50 million in the bank.