THE LAST MILE - The future is ours

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Something we can be sure of, however, is that eventually we are going to have to repay the money the government is making available. How will we do this?

As Covid-19 spread its influence across the country, politicians and commentators alike were talking about the need to fight a war against it, a war against an unseen enemy. While it is not up to me to judge how the people who make these sort of statements choose their words, talking about a war conjures up all sorts of connotations; after all it has been said many times that the first casualty of any war is the truth. Listening to the many press conferences and briefings over the days, I detected a shift in the style and delivery, a shift from open and transparent sharing of information to repeating the same thing over and over again; in other words, ‘we will tell you what we want you to know and we will keep telling you this. We won’t tell what you would like to know.’ One gets the impression that we are not been told everything.

Perhaps our leaders are guided by the principles from one of Abraham Lincoln’s speeches: “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time”, but forgetting the final line “but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time”. Who really knows? Only time will tell. One thing that has stuck out is the number of ‘expert’ comments reported in the media. There have been so many of these commentators I suspect that if you put them all end to end, they would reach to the moon and back and still not come up with an agreed version of the truth.

Something we can be sure of, however, is that eventually we are going to have to repay the money the government is making available. How will we do this? Most likely by the only way governments know to increase income, via tax increases, and increases in government charges. These will not happen this year of course, we have an election coming up and its fair to say no party would go to the country saying we will increase tax and government charges, but after the election wait and see, a socialist utopia unfolding perhaps. It is a shame that we are now seeing the pain and suffering that our country is going through turning into political point scoring and to push ideological agendas.

We have seen comments that the way the world is now is a good example of how it will be in the future, if we do not stop climate change. We have read of the need to install ‘temporary’ safe walkways and cycleways. The Associate Minister of Transport is now pushing to have fast rail linking some provincial towns with the main centres, all under the guise that these projects will create jobs. I do not know if anybody has told her, but fast rail works on a rail gauge much wider than what we have in New Zealand; unless of course she is proposing we have two train sets.

It has been interesting to hear calls for the return of an organisation like the Ministry of Works to oversee government projects; if this happens then we may see roads that are designed to be safe and functional and not designed just to be nice. Perhaps too we would see bridges designed and built without one eye on their potential to win an architectural award, even perhaps an end to buildings built by private enterprise and leased back to the government that cannot stand the forces of nature, such as the building occupied by the Ministry of Defence, supposedly a bomb-proof building that had to be demolished because of earthquake damage, while buildings close by built by the Ministry of Works remained okay.

Last month I mentioned how gratifying it was to see how the industry associations and the RTF had stepped up by keeping their members informed. As the industry now moves into helping the country during the important recovery phase, wouldn’t be good if these associations realised they could achieve a lot more if they were united under a single entity with a single voice? Or is this just wishful thinking? As I also said last month and will say again, well done to all those involved in moving freight by road in New Zealand. The country would be in a dire position if it were not for you.