Is there something in the water?

In The Last Mile, August 20215 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineSeptember 22, 2021

I don’t know what it is – perhaps the council is putting something in the water? – but I am having great difficulty understanding much of what I read and see lately, let alone believe.

I recently went online to book an appointment to see my doctor. The first thing I saw was a message telling me that I should ring the Healthline 0800 number if I were unwell. This puzzled me because I couldn’t work out why I would want to see my doctor if I was feeling okay.

Just over 12 months ago, when Covid-19 made its presence known to us, questions were asked as to whether airline passengers should wear face masks. We were told there was no need for this because the air filters fitted to planes were as good as, if not better than, those used in hospital operating theatres. Now wearing masks on planes is compulsory. What’s changed? Did the airlines stop using high-grade filters?

Our health officials keep telling us they are confident there is no widespread Covid-19 in the community. If this is so, why is there still a need to wear face masks when travelling on public transport?

In February, it was reported that the cost blowout of 17 roads in New Zealand was at $1.1 billion, about 25% of the NZTA’s annual operating budget. The Green Party transport spokesperson, Julie-Anne Genter, said she was frustrated that NZTA had been overspending on state highways at the expense of cycleway improvements. If the state of our highways is the outcome of overspending, then I would hate to see what they would look like if the NZTA had not overspent on them. I wonder, too, if Genter can recall that up until November last year, she was associate minister of transport and well placed to keep an eye on where the NZTA was spending taxpayer’s money.

I also read about a car driver who had appeared in court charged with drink-driving. He had nearly twice the legal limit of alcohol in his system and was also charged with dangerous driving, clocked by police at 103kph in a 50kph zone, a residential street. The driver pleaded guilty to the charges. His lawyer said that he, the driver, had a clean criminal record, had completed voluntary community service and a driving course, and had made some reparation to the owner of the car he damaged. He had previously accumulated demerit points for speeding. In the driver’s defence, his lawyer argued that as he, the driver, aspired to be a long-haul truck driver, a conviction for drink-driving and dangerous driving would prevent him from achieving his goal.

The driver was discharged without conviction, ordered to pay $1100 in repatriation and disqualified from driving for three months. When the industry is struggling to get drivers and promote itself as professional, we should question what sort of message this sends.

I read that the Wellington City Council is all but dysfunctional, and the mayor has initiated an independent review into how the council operates. He, the mayor, will set the terms of reference and he will appoint the reviewer. Some might argue this is the New Zealand version of democracy in action. Still, others might take the view of that notable bureaucrat from the Yes Minister TV series, Sir Humphrey Appleby, when he told the minister never to start a review of something unless you know beforehand what it will find.

Looking at the queues of vehicles lined up, some for hours, waiting to get into or leave Auckland because of the end-of- February lockdown, I wondered if any of our anti-car and decidedly anti-truck brigade have calculated how many tonnes of carbon emissions this contributed to the atmosphere.

Perhaps there is something in the water after all?

The Accidental Trucker