The Eye of the Fish

September 20, 2019

To Tunnel? or Not Two Tunnel?

That IS the question alright, being asked all over Wellington as we near the time for an election. This year, Council elections appear to be up in the air – in a big way. We have a wide range of candidates for all Councils, and really, it is hard to know who to vote for. How to make your mind up? And Why does it matter? Let’s have a look at that list again.

WCC Mayoral Candidates:

Norbert Hausberg – Independent – “Wellington – Carbon Neutral by 2022”

Don Newt McDonald – “Convergent Series 1.5 .5.5 nudge infinity. “

Jennie Condie – “YIMBY Futureproof Wellington”

Justin Lester – Labour – “I’ve led a cohesive, future-focused Council that’s getting things done.”

Conor Hill – “For a better Wellington”

Diane Calvert – National – “Getting the buses sorted”

Andy Foster – “I’ll empower communities to develop their own longterm plans.”

Andrew Grantham Cox – “I have strived.. to help the Council with their transport vows.”

Ajay Rathod – “I will be a leader that doesn’t tolerate discrimination.”

Right off the bat, I’m going to dismiss the fringe elements, because, well, fringes are made to be trimmed. So Hausberg, McDonald, Cox, and Rathod go. Bye! Not quite sure why you stand for Mayor if you haven’t even got the nous to put up a website or billboard. That would appear to leave us with a smaller choice of Condie, Lester, Hill, Calvert and Foster. But a choice of five is still too many. Condie is clearly going to appeal to the leftish/youngish vote, with Fudge-coloured hair and an interest in Montessori Schools. Calvert appears to be in the wrong election, as she clearly should be standing for Regional Council instead of local, as she wants to control the buses. Well, I reckon I could sort out America better than Donal Trump too, but not if I stand in the Zimbabwe elections. Choose the right race first Calvert! Widely misguided but will still draw the vote from True Blue supporters. Lester is clearly going to get a lot of repeat custom from people who recognise his name and think he is doing an OK job. I find it interesting to read that he thinks he has lead a “Council that’s getting things done” as it seems the exact opposite to me. Has anything, at all, actually been done? There is a coloured pedestrian crossing in Cuba St, yes, but anything else? Hill is the only candidate I’ve actually met recently, and he seems nice, and normal, and is obviously a decent bloke, but is that enough to win? And Foster… well, there’s a thing. I’ve actually got a huge amount of respect for Foster as he is the only Councillor I know that actually gets things done. Plus, he writes reasonably regularly on news items in places like Scoop – and even occasionally The Eye of the Fish. For that reason alone he is likely to get my vote, but he has stood before and polled appallingly, for reasons unknown to me.

Clearly, therefore, the two likely front runners are going to be Justin Lester due to voting inertia and name recognition, and Diane Calvert due to the blue rinse brigade wanting a National candidate to vote for. Connie and Hill are likely to be dismissed as too left / too “not mainstream” enough, and Foster used to stand under the NZ First banner so he is probably still tainted / bedaubed with that perception, despite being the only candidate who can realistically get any action to happen. Calvert is, to me, a complete idiot for standing in the wrong election – if she had wanted to be in power she could have gone for GWRC and probably shot straight in at number One, as they are clearly rudderless, but she didn’t, and shows no sign of understanding her fundamental mistake. I went to a GWRC meeting the other day, and the Councillors were openly laughing about the idiocy of people at WCC thinking that they would control what is legally in GWRC’s bag. So we are probably still likely to get Lester back in again due to vote splitting and there being no clear single credible alternative.

Except. Except. Except….

This election is, like no other, going to be around the issue of Transport, and accordingly, To Tunnel or Not To Tunnel – THAT is the question. The people at Save The Basin Reserve have come out and posted their picks / recommendations for Mayor based on answers to a series of questions about transport – including whether a second Mt Victoria tunnel should be built or not. The somewhat surprising result is that they recommend people choose: Jenny Condie, Norbert Hausberg, Conor Hill, or Justin Lester.

That’s a clearly left-leaning selection, distinctly clear from the clearly right-leaning selection of Calvert, who is pro-roading and tunnelling. Foster, of course, is a transport enthusiast and a keen cyclist, which some clearly think makes him a greenie, but he is also pro-sorting-the-traffic-out in a way that makes him look more like a tunnel man, and to some, right-leaning.

I’m sort of amazed that Save the Basin have come out so strongly against a Tunnel, because they were so much against a Flyover last time, that a tunnel option should surely help resolve traffic, something that they spent a great deal of time and money arguing in court with the sister organisation of Mt Vic Residents Association….

Your thoughts?

20 - 09 - 19

“So we are probably still likely to get Lester back in again due to vote splitting and there being no clear single credible alternative. ”

WCC uses Single Transferable Voting (STV), vote splitting isn’t an issue because voters can rank all the candidates (or as many as they want).

A second tunnel will only help resolve the traffic through the immediate Basin area if it goes all the way to join the Arras Tunnel. That’s not what LGWM have committed to. I think Save the Basin realise that a second tunnel will induce increased traffic through their area, not something I’d expect them to want.

20 - 09 - 19

William, yes, true, we have STV, but what I mean is that there will be a sizable number who just tick the box for Lester, and the remaining vote gets First Choice preference spread out over a number of candidates. But I guess, if you remember back to when Celia Wade Brown got in, she was a surprise winner, as the vote had been split at least 3 ways.

Save the Basin are playing with Fire. They don’t want to be known as NIMBY, but the action they are taking is still very Nimbyish. The argument for a tunnel, surely, would be that traffic would be less visible as it is underground.

Kumara Republic
20 - 09 - 19

Andy Foster has previously stood for NZ First, if it’s anything to go by. For a much saner version of Save the Basin, the NZ Architectural Centre had some smart alternatives including Option X.

Kumara Republic
20 - 09 - 19

Re: Diane Calvert, she’s basically the new Jo Coughlan.

20 - 09 - 19

Leviathan for mayor.

21 - 09 - 19

Thanks m-d : don’t think I haven’t thought of it – but then again, I’ve thought of slitting my wrists as well – best to get rid of foolish thoughts. That’s a job straight out of hell !

Kumara Republic – yeah, well, i was never that keen on “Four lanes to the planes” Coughlan, although she did have a good punchy advertising campaign. Calvert just has a picture of her face, which I’m not sure is really a good thing…

Henry Filth
22 - 09 - 19

But who will make the drains run on time?

23 - 09 - 19

I don’t see a problem if some voters for whatever reason don’t want to rank candidates beyond their “1” (but don’t tick, your vote will be informal).

In 2010 Celia & Kerry Prendergast were reasonably close in the initial count, with Jack Yan a distant third. Celia then gained at each subsequent iteration.

If the initial count had been held under FPP that would have been a good example of vote splitting, resulting in Kerry winning with less than 50% of the vote.

Possibly Save the Basin have moved beyond nimbyism because they realise induced demand affects the whole city, not just their immediate area. And as my first comment, traffic would only be less visible if any new Mt Vic tunnel went all the way to the Arras tunnel.

23 - 09 - 19

I’d presume that the rationale that Save the Basin is against the possibility of a second Mt Victoria tunnel, is that they are concerned about the loss of housing on Patterson St. This is a major driver for the Mt Vic Residents Association, as far as I would understand.

24 - 09 - 19

Alan, NZTA pretty much own all the houses in Patterson street,

The longer there is no progress on the 2nd Tunnel and basin the longer they will be left in the state they are.. (and they certainly wont be redeveloped)… Perhaps that’s the hidden goal of the Mt Vic Residents Assoc.. Heritage preservation by stagnation……

24 - 09 - 19

“The argument for a tunnel, surely, would be that traffic would be less visible as it is underground” – that’s an argument, sure, but it has a couple of corollaries:

– a tunnel for general traffic will tend to increase the amount of general traffic (the induced-demand effect);
– that also means more traffic at the tunnel approaches.

LGWM’s version of a new tunnel appears to be for general traffic (I hope that I’m wrong on that), with the western portal leading from/feeding dointo the Basin area, so it’s no wonder that Save the Basin/MVRA do not support it. And, as William says, induced demand affects the whole city.

As for “a tunnel option should surely help resolve traffic”, you can’t really be serious? One of LGWM’s very sensible central points is to get more people into fewer (i.e. larger) vehicles: facilitating more smaller vehicles will do the precise opposite.

Stephen Todd
24 - 09 - 19

“[…], but what I mean is that there will be a sizable number who just tick the box for Lester, and the remaining vote gets First Choice preference spread out over a number of candidates.”

Maybe so, but as those other candidates are progressively excluded from the count, the votes given for them will mostly transfer to, and accumulate upon, the most-popular anti-Lester candidate. Hence, as William tried to explain, no vote-splitting.

At the end of the day, what matters is how many single votes cast by individual Wellingtonians end up with Lester, compared to how many such votes end up with the most-popular anti-Lester candidate, and *that* will largely depend on how many Right(-leaning) people vote, compared to how many Left(-leaning) people vote.