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Archive for 13 September 2011

Trade Unionist to the rescue!

13 September 2011 3 comments

Well, this is a new one for the books.  From our “You Wouldn’t Believe It”  Files, we have this story…

Background: a report was published in today’s edition of the  “Sydney Morning Herald” that alleged that one of three NZ government ministers had behaved offensively during the recent Italy vs Wallabies RWC game. The report stated, in part,

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“…”He booed and abused the Wallabies all game,” Jeeves said. ”He was yelling out, ‘f—ing cheats’ and other offensive remarks, and then when the Wallabies started to get on top, he suddenly left.” Naturally the ARU representatives and their partners in the box were gobsmacked. One asked an Auckland government official: ”Who is this bloke? His behaviour is right over the top.” The local suit replied: ”Sorry. I can’t do much about it. He’s a government minister.” The contingent now refer to him as the New Zealand Minister for Bad Manners…”  Source

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Prime Minister, John Key was not happy, and made inquiries. The three ministers concerned; Wayne Mapp, Maurice Williamson; and Jonathan Coleman, were all interviewed by the media – and all appeared uncomfortable at the allegations.

Things were not looking good for any of the three National Ministers. They knew only too well that their boss, John Key, would not hesitate to sack anyone who mis-behaved in such a fashion.

Enter a Knight in Shining Armour; trade unionist Robert Reid,  General secretary of the National Distribution Union. Mr Reid was present in the VIP area, and confirmed that whilst Maurice Williamson “was boisterous [that] it certainly was not offensive behaviour”. Mr Reid went on to defend Mr Williamson as not behaving offensively and not swearing,

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A story rich in irony; a right wing, anti-Union Minister; belonging to a centre-right, National/Act government – “saved” by a trade unionist coming to his defence.

Something that Maurice Williamson might ponder next time his colleagues in National consider legislation that might impact of workers’ rights?

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Minister in Charge of R.W.C. (Royal Wellington-based Cock-up)

13 September 2011 3 comments

The government has launched, what is in effect, a “Very Kiwi Coup” in taking over certain aspects  of the RWC in Auckland; the “fanzone” at Queens Wharf, and

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Source

Listen to Murray McCully on Checkpoint

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However, it is worthwhile to note that central Government already held responsibility for several major aspects of this event. The Prime Minister, John Key, cannot easily dismiss his government’s culpability in last Friday’s fiasco with a smile and brief comment,

“I am more than happy to apologise to those individuals involved, but at the end of the day, the responsibility rests with the delivery agent that is in Auckland.”  Source

In fact, only two years ago,  Key was warned of severe shortcomings to RWC planning,

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Full Story

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In July 2009, the government received a report from the then-Auckland Regional Transport Authority (now replaced by the Auckland Transport Agency – but more on that in a moment) on Rugby World Cup transport planning. The report stated, in part,

“The impression is that the level of public transport required for RWC2011 is a little above normal. The levels of patron movement and operational standard [needed for the RWC] are in reality significantly above what is currently delivered.” Source

Why is this important?

Because Murray McCully holds several portfolios,

  • Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Minister for Sport and Recreation
  • Minister for the Rugby World Cup
  • Member, Privileges Committee

As such, Minister McCully holds a role in government over-seeing the smooth running of the Rugby World Cup event in this country. (Otherwise, why hold such a position in the first place?)

So for John Key to attempt to shift responsibility for oversight of the RWC planning for Auckland to the “delivery agent that is in Auckland” – then we are witnessing a certain degree of buck-passing.

The body overseeing transport organisation is the Auckland Transport Agency,

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This Agency was set up by central government in November 2009 and Transport Minister Steven Joyce said that “the Auckland Transport Agency will be responsible for all local authority transport functions, including roads and public transport“.

Of the ATA’s Board of seven directors, five  are appointed by the government and two by the  ‘new’, amalgamated super-city Auckland Council.

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The ATA is therefore a ‘creature’ of central government, and is stacked with a majority of Directors of  government appointees.

And finally,  Veolia Transport Auckland operates the Auckland passenger rail network on behalf of Auckland Transport, as per the current ideology that “private enterprise can deliver a better, more efficient service” than Council or State organisations.

Veolia was directly managing the rail system and had supposedly prepared for heightened demand for RWC patrons and other members of the public,

“During September and October 2011 we will be increasing our services to provide higher frequency and higher capacity rail services during the Rugby World Cup.”

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It therefore seems bizarre that Central Government has attempted to blame Auckland Council for the inadequate transport arrangements of last Friday. Even the low number of Police – 200 by one report – who courageously  managed a crowd of 200,000+ , could not be made the responsibility of the Auckland Council.

Last time I looked, police were under the command of the Police Commissioner (Peter Marshall), who reports to the Minister of (Police (Judith Collins) – not the mayor of Auckland.

It is obvious that a sporting event of this magnitude; spanning the entire country (not just held in Auckland); and requiring the full resources of the state; required hands-on over-sight by central government.

It is further symptomatic of the shambles from last Friday, that Murray McCully has only now called for more planning around the Qureen’s Wharf  “fanzone”,

“Over the weekend I held discussions with the Queens Wharf management team, including Auckland Festival Trust and the NZ2011 Office. Yesterday, I formally instructed them to form a plan for the accommodation of the public based on the large numbers we saw last Friday, and in the expectation that even without a major event operating, numbers might flow over from Queens Wharf.”  Source

It is extraordinary that he has only today realised that large numbers of people attending would require special planning. Unbelievable.

Murray McCully is the Minister for the Rugby World Cup. Unless he relinquished that role sometime in the last few days, responsibility rests with him. As do the government controlled agencies such as the Police and ATA. As such, he and his well-paid officials should be over-seeing the planning and co-ordination of state and local agencies for this event.

Otherwise, next time it may not end so well. We were lucky – very lucky indeed that no one was seriously  injured or killed. It was only by good lucky; the good nature (generally) of the crowd; and the cool heads of the police that prevented a tragedy.

As one person wrote, in an email to the Prime Minister,

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“Dear Mr Key …

You are extremely lucky that there was no death or serious injury from crushing or trampling in Quay Street during the opening celebrations.

“When we got off the ferry, Quay Street was packed so we were squeezed amongst all the people … It was not a safe feeling so we turned back. People were trying to move in both directions, both to and from the ferry and there were many people who were trying to stay still in front of the big screen to watch the … entertainment.

“A girl of about 12 being pushed beside me became hysterical yelling and screaming over and over `stop pushing me’.

“I saw my friend on top of the fence yelling at me to get to it and climb over it down to the lower floating pontoons. I eventually managed to get to the fence and was helped over and down (it was about a two-metre drop with a gap where I could have fallen into the water) onto the pontoons … It was along those pontoons that we eventually got to the ferry building where we could catch a ferry to get out of there.

“Party Central for 12,000 people for a city of Auckland’s size was ridiculous.

Jan Gillespie
Auckland resident “

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This is one cock-up that John Key cannot smile and wave his way out of.

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Continued here: New Warnings: R.W.C.

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