Stop the world, I want to get off

In The Last Mile, June 20215 MinutesBy The Accidental TruckerJuly 7, 2021

More senior readers may remember the 1966 Warner Brothers movie Stop the World I Want to Get Off, which is exactly how I felt when reading some media stories recently. In no particular order I have read:

The government will review its $12 billion capital infrastructure investment programme because of the effects of Covid-19. I have a more straightforward explanation. When these much-hyped projects were announced, they came with more than a fair share of organic fertiliser spread around the money tree. This forced the tree into a growth spurt, spurred on by even more liberal applications of fertiliser.

Unfortunately, because of climate change, we have not had the amount of rain we should have, so the tree is now shrivelling and dying.

The auditor general’s office has said the government acted illegally, as it did not have the required approvals when it paid close to $30 million to purchase the land at Ihumatao. The government’s response to this was that it was only a technical breach of the law, and the intent was there. Next time you get pinged for non-compliance such as underpaid road-user charges or worktime breaches, base your defence around that: it was only a technical breach, and the intent was there. See how far that gets you.

The cost of the shared pathway alongside Wellington Harbour, SH2, has increased by $50 million since February. The reason given is the need to provide additional protection against erosion along the harbour’s edge.

How this has only recently been identified beats me. Erosion has taken place ever since the harbour was formed – it is a natural event. I have to wonder if the academics actually realise that the volume of water entering and leaving the harbour each day has changed little over time.

When it gets into the harbour it spreads out and covers whatever area it can. It occurs to me that if you reduce the area over which the water can spread, and the same volume of water is still coming at it, the deeper the water will be, and its erosion effects will increase.

The government has moved to ban the export of live cattle by sea. According to the Agricultural Minister, Damien O’Connor, the impact of this on farmers’ income will not be substantial, at about 2%. At the same time, we are all under increasing pressure to reduce our country’s carbon emissions, which are about 0.02% of the world’s total and our efforts can make a substantial difference. It has been a long time since I learnt basic arithmetic, but I do recall that 2% of a whole was greater than 0.02%. But, then, that’s old-school thinking.

The government is spending close to $1 million each day providing emergency and transitional housing, but it seems it cannot put a number on how much it is paying out to those who own the properties to repair damage caused by the occupants. How can this be? As more than one commentator has said, haven’t they heard of Excel spreadsheets? Try running your business this way and see if your accountant or IRD will accept it.

While all of this is going on, I also read that Starship Hospital in Auckland is asking for public donations to help finance the new kiddies’ intensive care unit. In Wellington, the new children’s hospital, built privately but gifted to Wellington, is also seeking donations to help fit out the hospital and supply comforts to the patients. What am I missing here?

Finally, many will know that the NTZA publishes a regular update of roading activity that could impact the movement of road freight. You’ll find it at nzta.govt.nz by searching ‘potential restrictions affecting the freight and heavy haulage industry’. It is good information, but wouldn’t it be nice if the agency also published a list of its inactivity that also has the potential to impact the movement of road freight?

Maybe rather than hoping I can get off this world, I should just stop reading?

The Accidental Trucker