Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Winning the argument on Auckland rail

The government has changed its mind on the Auckland rail loop:

Prime Minister John Key has confirmed the Government is willing to support and contribute to Auckland's rail loop.

Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee earlier hinted at a major announcement in Auckland on Friday, understood to be a change of heart on the rail loop.

On his way to a parliamentary select committee meeting today, he said he would be in Auckland with Key that day.

Asked if there was a U-turn, he said: "It's not a U-turn, it's a loop."

So the Greens win the argument again. Good. Auckland needs a modern public transport infrastructure, and the rail loop will provide it. As for complaints about a "u-turn", isn't it a Good Thing if the government changes its mind in response to the evidence? Isn't that what we want? Or would we prefer a government which pig-headedly refused to do the obvious, simply for fear of being seen to "back down"?

As I write this, David Shearer in the House is pushing for the latter. Sometimes I really despair at our political culture.

(Meanwhile: the Greens have won the argument on Auckland rail, home insulation and child poverty. Maybe Labour should take a leaf from their book and try the same tactic of quiet, patient argument, rather than dumping its policies at the first focus group?)