Monday, February 11, 2008

Dig for victory

Last night, I was at a party, where I met a Fundy Post reader, who was lovely. She and her partner live in Waterview, where Transit New Zealand is considering building a motorway tunnel. I say this not only to make you aware that I do have a social life and to reassure you that you are not the only reader of this blog. I say this also as a preamble to my detailed analysis of the free copy of the New Zealand Herald I was given today, in which the building of the motorway tunnel figures large.

One cannot help but think that somewhere in Fran O'Sullivan's contract with the NZ Herald is a clause absolving her from any responsibility to have a relationship with facts. She is free to give any opinion that pleases her, regardless of inconsistency between her views and the truth. Take, for example, this thought from Ms O'Sullivan's opinion piece in today's paper about boring:
But Clark can rest assured. Transit NZ's decision to plunge a 3.2km twin tunnel deep under her Auckland electorate, rather than the much more cost-effective above-surface option, gets her off the hook.
Now, compare and contrast, if you will, Ms O'Sullivan's opinion with the news story by Mathew Dearnaley, also in today's paper. Here we find no mention of an "above-surface option," only a choice between a tunnel and a trench, the latter being more expensive and more disruptive than the former. Quite what Ms O'Sullivan means by an "above-surface option" is not something she clarifies, but it is clear that Transit NZ never considered carrying the motorway on majestic arches high above the voters of Mount Albert.

Unless Ms O'Sullivan knows more about the secret life of Transit NZ than she is disclosing, it would appear she has invented an option, one that is far more cost-effective (being entirely imaginary) than the choice made by the road-builders. In doing so, she insinuates that the Prime Minister has made a far more expensive choice because of her fears for her seat in Parliament.

It is important at this stage to take a deep breath and recognise that virtually all of Ms O'Sullivan's essay is conjecture. As a newspaper reader, you are probably accustomed to reading op-ed pieces that are based on facts, so this new adventure in journalism might come as something of a shock. Your emotional discomfort might be intensified further if you can remember the days when Ms O'Sullivan was a very capable business journalist, who probably would not have dreamed of making up stuff about the business folk who were the subject of her writing. But it seems that it now is her job to invent facts and imagine motives.

Such is the lot of a Herald opinion writer. Ms O'Sullivan is not alone. Ever since the paper's ridiculously overwrought campaign against the Electoral Finance Bill, almost all the op-eds in the Herald have been of a similar timbre. The job of a Herald writer is to snarl and attack; her target will be the Government and she will use every weapon at her disposal. The snarling is now unremitting. The Herald no longer has any character, depth or colour. It has a single dimension and a single purpose. It is no more than a National Party hack sheet. No wonder they have to give it away one day every week.

Elsewhere, Mr Brown relates another story: he gets a TV show (yay!) and the Herald writes about it in terms of "Government supporter gets Government-funded show."


Weekend_Viking said...

Newspaper articles of pure fantasy? I feel your pain. Am currently on contract to the consultants doing the geotechnical work on a major roading project, and the Dominion Post has been attempting to write about it. It has been a great source of amusement to us, as they write of types of drilling rig that _don't exist_ and rocks that aren't possible. We had to promise our supervisor not to troll their comments section :-(

The Reluctant Botanist said...

No wonder they have to give it away one day every week.

LOL out loud. Very True

Stephanie said...

But not on Queen Street!

Lyndon said...

Further to your picture:

Anonymous said...

Im not a fan of La O'Sullivan but its seems clear she meant surface rather than above ground.( no sub editors left at NZH ?)
And having been to the previews held by the consultants and on their mailing list, the surface was the preferred option until consulation stopped mysteriously about a year ago. The only choices before that were which route the surface option would take.

And at $2 billion + this is so very very expensive that tolling seems the only outcome as was probably intended since the on off tolling proposed by Transit previously was laughed off the stage.
Yet private funding will double the cost of construction.
The Brits found after privatising their rail maintenance and construction that prices rose 5 fold.

Anonymous said...

Yes Fran O'Sullivan must be one of the "National Party Floozies" that Winston was talking about on the reopening of Parliament.

I remember her taking a hammering from Ian Wishart after the last election though - when she refused to cover his 48 hour before the election "scandal".

Tunnelling is of course the option we find in Sydney - it makes more sense nowadays. Who wants another harbour bridge.

Fran. Get a life!

Anonymous said...

Now I have a memory of being at a business meeting that HC addressed where she said she would not support a road through her area - but will admit that the memory is a bit vague and it could have been the follow up comments of the well informed and connected moderator after she left.

Nevertheless, since that meeting I have understood that the volcanic cones of Mt Albert were sacrosanct (in fact I think that was HC that referred to the volcanic cones).

And given the ongoing stacking of boards with Labour people, it would not be surprising if the overground option was never considered.

Let's see who is on the Transit board - well what do you know, Mike Williams and Garry Moore. Now who are they close to?


Anonymous said...

anyone who's been involved with an event the media then reports on is left with a sense of awe and dismay.