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An artists impression of a future Auckland train station as part of the CRL.
An artists impression of a future Auckland train station as part of the CRL.

The BulletinJuly 27, 2018

The Bulletin: Future proofing confirmed for Auckland rail

An artists impression of a future Auckland train station as part of the CRL.
An artists impression of a future Auckland train station as part of the CRL.

Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: CRL gets bigger before being built, Greens reluctantly tuck into a big dead rat, and police change goat-tasering policies.  

The government has signed off on plans to build Auckland’s City Rail Link even bigger, before it opens up. The NZ Herald outlines the changes – basically they involve wider tunnels and longer platforms, to increase the overall capacity of the system, at a cost of about $100 million more.

The interesting thing here is that effectively the system is being future proofed before opening. Rail use across Auckland has been rising in Auckland much more quickly than expected, and under the original plans the CRL might have been inadequate. That’s an argument made by Greater Auckland, who welcomed the initial suggestions. One wonders if a lesson about future proofing has also been taken from the Wellington buses – a two week long debacle since changes were made, ostensibly, as the Point of Order blog points out to future proof the network.

Auckland mayor Phil Goff said doing the work now will mean they won’t have to close the tunnels to retrofit them later. And transport minister Phil Twyford raised the spectre of the infamous ‘clip-ons‘ on the Auckland Harbour Bridge – a byword for poor capacity planning in transport infrastructure. And there have long been concerns about whether the network will be sufficiently future-proofed – read for example this excellent piece from Simon Wilson on The Spinoff last year, which cast serious doubt on the capacity planning.

And how is it all going to be paid for? Additional funding has been put up by both Council and central government, and Twyford told Interest there’s a lot of private sector excitement around the procurement process, to go along with the interest the Super Fund expressed earlier this year in getting involved.

The Greens say they have no choice but to vote for the waka-jumping bill, despite strong party opposition, reports Radio NZ. The bill, put forward by NZ First, limits the ability of MPs to switch parties – rather it allows parties to bring the next person in off the list in their place. Opponents say it is anti-democratic – and among those critics are former Green MPs Sue Bradford and Jeanette Fitzsimons. Former TOP candidate Geoff Simmons came out against it today on The Spinoff too. But NZ First argue it allows a better reflection of what people actually voted for, which is a party, rather than individual candidates.

For the Greens, this will be a tricky calculation. Their supporters hate this bill, and have had to put up with a few things going through that they aren’t keen on. But on the other hand, they’re getting wins like progressing the Zero Carbon bill on climate change policy, which is so fundamental to the interests of the party that it may trump everything else. The reaction to this will be very interesting to watch.

Police have been forced to release footage of a feral goat being tasered, and say their policies around tasering animals has been changed since the 2016 incident, reports Radio NZ. The goat was being tracked down, after making a bid for freedom from an abattoir, but was euthanised after the event. From now on, the police say they’ll only tase animals that are attacking them, rather than as a mechanism to help capture animals.

Warnings about increasing rates of syphilis were ignored by the Auckland DHB, who went ahead and cut sexual health positions, reports the NZ Herald. The infection, which was once almost eradicated in New Zealand, has been quietly becoming an epidemic, and has caused some stillborn births.

A big world news story unfolding right now: Former cricketer Imran Khan appears to have won Pakistan’s election. The BBC reports that he’s come closest to forming a coalition, in a vote marred by violence, and claims of rigging.

In event news: Sir Ray Avery’s charity concert at Eden Park will not be going ahead, reports Newshub. And his business practices came in for a bit of further scrutiny on Checkpoint. During an interview they played him an audio clip from a donor who was unsatisfied with the current progress of the baby incubators he’s trying to get made – jumping off concerns first reported by Newsroom.

And, in contrast to what was understood yesterday, it turns out the two extremist Canadians will be speaking after all – we’ve updated our official statement.

And finally, in the weather: There’s been yet another record heat wave in the Northern Hemisphere, which has cost dozens of lives in Japan and Korea, the Arctic is warming, deadly wildfires are raging in Europe, there is a risk of water shortages in Holland and Switzerland, and Australia is in the vicelike grip of drought. All over the world, a bunch of all time heat records have been set this month, and the Indian cricket team asked for a match to be shortened because of the hot temperatures in England, of all places. In New Zealand, spring is predicted to start early. Expect to see this sort of thing pretty much every year from here on in.

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Right now on The Spinoff: Henry Oliver goes deep into the arguments for and against Eat My Lunch. Consider getting up by 8 tomorrow morning to see a buzzy celestial event, writes Duncan Steel. I watched Simon Bridges co-host a Radio Live show, and he made some rather interesting comments about the state of the media. And finally, I feel like I share Madeleine Chapman’s work a lot, but absolutely read this over the weekend. It’s so much more than a story about a pen.

The feature I’m sharing today struck a chord with me because I feel it sums up a major aspect of the philosophy behind The Bulletin. Namely, that clicks and referrals from this newsletter should be treated as they are received by digital editors. Clicks are the lifeblood that keeps news websites going these days – the Guardian’s parent company, for example, just had digital revenues surpassing that which they make on print. Driving all of that is clicks – and a hate click is worth just the same as any other click.

That’s why this article, from Screencrush, is so relevant. It argues that you should never share stupid articles, because that actively rewards stupidity. Here’s a brief excerpt:

“Even though these shares come from a desire to stop the flow of bad ideas, they almost always have the opposite effect. The percentage of writers who get fired for writing a dopey hot take is almost zero. The companies who own your favourite (or most despised) website don’t care if you read something because you agreed with it or because you were outraged. In the internet economy a click is a click is a click. And in some ways a hateclick is better than a genuinely inquisitive one, because hateclicks tend to result in more hateshares, which in turn generate more hateclicks.”

And that brings me back to the point behind this whole exercise of The Bulletin in the first place. What if, instead of sharing stupidity, we simply all made a choice to use our clicks to reward quality work? Because while there is some dumb stuff, there’s also no shortage of good reporting, insightful commentary and strong investigative journalism being done in New Zealand. So let’s make the most of it.

The Al-Jazeera documentary into cricket match fixing has been out for a while now, but I only just got around to watching it because it has just come back into the news. It’s a brilliant and gripping piece of work, but hasn’t exactly shaken cricket to the core like it might have been expected to. Cricket authorities said they were taking the matter seriously, but largely dismissed the allegations made as lacking in evidence. And the reason it is back in the news is because an accused Australian player who is not named, but is pretty clearly identifiable, has spoken out to proclaim their innocence.

That player is Glenn Maxwell, and he insists there was absolutely no fixing going on in the test match in question, reports ESPN Cricinfo. He says he’s even reported suspicious things he’s seen on the field to the relevant authorities. But what’s really concerning about it all is that the allegations concern a test match – the absolute highest form of the game, with the most scrutiny. What exactly is going on at lower levels?

Finally, spare a thought for the Hurricanes this weekend. They play the Crusaders in Christchurch for a spot in the Super Rugby final. But because they qualified 4th for the playoffs, is means they’ll probably have to jump straight on a plane for the final against the Lions in South Africa, after thrashing the Cantabrians.

From our partners, Vector’s Chief Networks Officer Andre Botha writes that while making and selling electricity from the comfort of home might sound like some dodgy online scam, it’s not as far-fetched as you might think.

That’s it for the The Bulletin. If you liked what you read, and know other people who would find it useful, please forward it on and encourage them to sign up here.

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