Thursday, August 31, 2017

$18 Cabbage: Mother of Misinformation and Ignorance

Thakur Ranjit Singh

Disinformation and misinformation on Labour Party’s water policy shows why it is so urgent for New Zealand’s education system to strengthen its third “r”, arithmetic in particular, and maths in general.

It appears many political leaders, journalists and media commentators are very grossly misinformed, without ability to differentiate between a litre (just one litre) and cubic metre (1,000 litres) of water.

When Labour Government comes in power in a month’s time, it should have special Arithmetic classes for journalist and some elderly political leaders, to ensure they do not make a laughing stock of themselves. As a first lesson, they need to know the difference between a litre and a cubic metre of water. 

Extremely nonsensical misinformation propagated by some ignorant politicians priced a cabbage at $18 each. And at Labour's proposed taxation price, this giant cabbage must require few swimming pools of water to grow. (1.8 million litres). This is ignorance at best, and sheer stupidity at worst.

A litre of milk uses some 960 litres of water to produce. At Labour's proposed tax of 1 cent per cubic metre (1,000 litres of water) this will cost less than a cent per litre. So what is the issues here? Where do they get their figures from?

No wonder, National Government should have invested in maths teachers, so politicians and general public can grasp simple arithmetic. And Beehive need to have maths classes for Parliamentarians, so that people like Winston Peters, and Minister for Primary Industries, Nathan Guy get better informed and enlightened on intelligent water debate and modes of measuring volume.

Nathan Guy made a spectacle of himself when he could not differentiate and distinguish between a litre and a cubit metre of water. This Guy said it took 900 litres of water to make a bottle of wine, and a 10c per litre charge would add $75 to a bottle's price. Where did he get his figure from? He does not even appear to have facts as a Minster to credibly debate an issue.

Labour’s environment spokesperson MP David Parker corrected Guy, and pointed out that Labour would charge by the cubic metre and not by litre. Hence, a tax of 1 cent per cubic metre would therefore lift the cost of a 750ml bottle of sauvignon Blanc by less than 1 cent.

Those politicians, radio talk back journalists and misinformed DJs at radio stations not comprehending simple maths need to distinguish water measures between a litre and cubit metre. Under farms taxation, you pay only one cent for 5 x 44 gallons (204 litres) drums of water (1,000 lit). For a cabbage to cost $18 each, it needs to take 8, 800 of 44 gallon drums or 1,800,000 litres (you talking million litres) of water to grow. That can fill a few swimming pools.

Any irrigation irrigates thousands of plants, and at Labour's proposed rates, it would not even amount to a cent per each plant.

Water spokesperson for Labour Party, David parker said that Labour Party was proposing charging 1 or 2 cents for each 1000 litres farmers use - but the details are yet to be hammered out with those involved. He said erroneous claims that such levies would equate to $50,000 a farm are rubbish.

"It would be about $100m across the whole of the country for a year," he told Q+A .
Perhaps Winston Peters can tell us which thirsty cabbage would need a few swimming pools of water to grow.

Labour’s environment spokesperson, David Parker said that NZ First's cabbage example was "amusing" and at a million litres of irrigation, it would indeed make one extremely watery cabbage.

[Thakur Ranjit Singh is a political observer and media commentator and journalist. He runs his blog, FIJI PUNDIT, and lives in Auckland]

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Labour’s Hail Mary pass: Jacinda Ardern gallops for a political touchdown.

Thakur Ranjit Singh.

Those familiar with American Football would know that a Hail Mary pass is a very long forward pass made in desperation, towards end of the game. Here, all receivers run straight towards the end zone and the quarterback will make a long pass that is often "up for grabs".

And the Labour team’s Captain and quarterback, Andrew Little has admirably made that pass and Jacinda Ardern has grabbed the ball in a desperate run for political touchdown, with Kelvin Davis in the flanks. Can they do this? 

Ladies and Gentlemen, presenting the next Prime Minister of New Zealand, JACINDA ARDERN
For somebody who served “apprenticeship” under Helen Clark, Jacinda Ardern appears to have very ably displayed elements of the former Prime Minister’s mettle within very short time of assuming leadership. She embraced the position very confidently with her command performance in the first press broadcast within hours of taking up the office.

She repeated her admirable performance as an able leader, with a combination of empathy for common people, compassion and force - within four days of taking up the helm of a sinking ship.

Lizzie Marvelly, writing in NZ Herald summed it well:

“New Zealand was delivered a Prime Minister-in-waiting… Jacinda Ardern... the uncontested leader of the Labour Party, stepping into shoes that realistically haven’t been adequately filled since they were worn by the formidable Right Honourable Helen Clark.”

And I repeat my Facebook observation - Ardern is a resurrection of Helen Clark. She is lovable, and can also be ruthless when needed. And she displayed those qualities admirably by her decision not to have Materia Turei in her cabinet.

Political Editor of NZ Herald, Audrey Young, observed rightly:

It was case of smiling assassin –sacking her first minister before she even had the chance to be a minister. It had echoes of both Helen Clark and John Key.” 

The Hail Mary Pass: The former Labour Leader, former captain and quarterback of Labour Team, Andrew Little, made the desperate Hail Mary Pass to Jacinda Ardern, who is GALLOPING FOR A POLITICAL TOUCHDOWN.
Motherhood has become international news here. What is also noticeable about Ardern is that as a former journalist student from Waikato University, she has the understanding and appreciation of halo effect certain mainstream male journalists possess. With that false sense of conceit, they have a habit of bullying, interrupting and humiliating politicians. They certainly have no such chance with Ardern who can trim down journalists who think they are Little Gods.  One journalist rightfully quipped that Ardern grabbed the opportunity to metaphorically club a few media cavemen over their stone-age views on working women and pregnancy. 

If these Kiwi journalist had done their research, they would have found out that almost three decades ago, in 1990, Prime Minister of a very conservative Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto had a baby while in office. That was 27 years ago. Some “cavemen” journalists need refresher course in research and probing journalism.

In the first weekend as the leader, she dominated both- TV 3’s “The Nation” and TVNZ’S “Q+A” and showed her advanced media skills. Unlike Winston Peters who has a habit of ridiculing and shooting the messengers, Ardern is more civilised and humane. The observation was that she possess an ability to rattle them respectfully, and pass on her message.

Labour for the past many years suffered from lack of penetration of their messages. Ardern is a fresh breeze. Positivity, vision for NZ, working for all with integrity, firmness, fairness, equality for all… These were themes that resonated in all mainstream media from this lass with roots in rural Murupara (in Bay of Plenty, 65 km from Rotorua) and Morrinsville, Waikato. Hence, her empathy for the down-trodden - a leader with a heart, not necessarily a rock!

The winning team of Leaders - Jacinda Ardern and Deputy, Kelvin Davis, ready for political touchdown and the winning score on the elction day.

A political party is best judged by how smooth the transition of its leadership is. Labour, since departure of Helen Clark, has been in disarray - until Jacindamania. It was the cleanest and unanimous transfer in history, not borne in any scandal or for selfish reason. In fact it was rooted in a huge sacrifice of Andrew Little (FIJI PUNDIT will have an article on this sacrifice). 

Not many would pass a chance to be Prime Minister. This transition even eclipsed the one between Key and English where challenges (read Collins, Coleman) were suppressed by the departing smiling assassin. No such thing here - a very smooth transition – with a resounding applause which drowned the past bloody battles of Labour leadership.

The youth and media look of Labour needs to be celebrated-and enhanced. Stuart Nash, Michael Wood, and incoming hopefuls of Tamati Coffey and Priyanca Radhakrishnan, among others, helped by Willie Jackson and old hands from the Labour team, including Phil Twyford, David Parker, and Grant Robertson, among others, comprise a challenging team. Their strengths are in media, communications and they project diversity. Labour needs to rectify its deficient communication cell – and colour it to reflect modern NZ.

Part of the winning Labour Team, led by new Labour Leader, Jacinda Ardern.
A word of advice and caution. Jacinda Ardern has to maintain herself, and cleanse (read sack) those in Labour Office who have been responsible for a wanting support to the past leaders. She needs to get a new team, especially those who can communicate. They need diverse support service that reflects the demographic make -up of the country, unlike a very white NZ mainstream media. 

David Cunliffe and Andrew Little failed to listen to this advice at their peril. Had Little done this, there would never have been the intern controversy (read Matt McCarten). I am hopeful Ardern will have her media radars on, be herself and have a support office that can serve the leader effectively-and efficiently, for a change.

And yes, Murupara means to “wipe off mud”. And that they will do as they march into Government after election.

Hail Mary…it is a winning touchdown…Let’s DO this.

[About the Author: Thakur Ranjit Singh is a media commentator and a political observer. He runs his blog, FIJI PUNDIT, and lives in Auckland, New Zealand.]

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Baa… Baa… Barnaby: When Australia interferes in New Zealand elections

Thakur Ranjit Singh

The unprecedented reaction of Australian government in Barnaby Joyce affair is their attempts to hide their internal shortfalls by seeking sacrificial lambs in New Zealand. They are throwing a rotting and stinking rat our way as a means of political distraction that they urgently need.

And National Party, some mainstream media journalists and others here pointing figure at New Zealand are wrong and misled by Australian government, which is blaming others to cover their idiocies.

An unprecedented diplomatic brawl erupted when Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop jabbed New Zealand Labour Party, accusing them of conspiring to bring down the Turnbull government.  NZ Labour Party’s star performer and a minister prospect, MP Chris Hopkins became the unfortunate fall guy. He is reported to have asked parliamentary questions about citizenship after a chat with a former Helen Clark staffer. 

In fact it eventuated that a Fairfax media investigation into Australian Deputy Prime Minister, Baa… Baa… oops (my jest), Barnaby Joyce confirmed earlier this week he was a dual New Zealand national, which could disqualify him from Parliament. 

The Careless, the Fall Guy and the Pretty Leader: Barnaby Joyce, Australian Deputy Prime Minister, caught with his pants down, Chris Hipkins, the star Labour MP, and fall guy and sacrificial lamb for Julie Bishop, Foreign Affairs Minister of Australia, and the smiling assassin, the new Labour Leader  Jacinda Ardern, who teaches international diplomacy to Bishop.
It is reported Joyce’s father was New Zealand born and he left NZ in 1947, and Barnaby was born in Australia. An archaic clause in Australian Constitution says anybody with a foreign father also assumes citizenship of his/her father. Ironically, Barnaby with his mother and grandmother are Australian born, hence the laughable clause in Australian Constitution.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, contrary to her surname, was full of venom, bitterness and desire of a battle with NZ Labour Party. "I would find it very difficult to build trust with members of a political party that had been used by the Australian Labour Party to seek to undermine the Australian government, “Bishop said. What a load of hogwash, and what a joke.

Neither Australian Labour Party, nor New Zealand Labour Party, not the fall guy Chris Hipkins, not even remotely the new NZ Labour leader, Jacinda Ardern made Barnaby Joyce a Kiwi – Barnaby’s father did! So why is Bishop barking up the wrong tree?  They need to take some personal responsibility.

Let me tell you a story. My grandfather, Bansi came to Fiji in 1915 from British India as an indentured labourer from Karouli, Rajasthan, India. He was a British subject, and as a result my Fiji-born father was also a British until Fiji gained independence in 1970, and he became a Fijian, and so did I. When I migrated to NZ, I became NZ citizen, and also obtained dual Fijian citizenship. If I were to contest an election, as an intelligent and wise person who considers himself worthy of representing others, I need to possess grey matter to do due diligence to enquire about my eligibility. 

I make it my business to know about my heritage, ancestry and legal matters relating to citizenship, especially if you intend to be in politics. And here we have an Australian leader caught with his pants down, and blaming others for his predicament, despite saying that ignorance of law is no excuse. Perhaps his government can walk his talk and stop blaming Labour Parties of both countries, Chris Hipkins or Jacinda Ardern, for their folly.

Look here Jacinda Ardern, "I would find it very difficult to build trust with members of a political party that had been used by the Australian Labour Party to seek to undermine the Australian government" What a load of crap. IN FACT AUSTRALIA IS INTERFERING WITH NEW ZEALAND ELECTION BY PROPPING UP NATIONAL GOVERNMENT WITH HER STANCE
Australia’s Deputy prime Minister and other politicians have an army of staff, with some of the best brains money can buy to find out and fix these things. They cannot and should not blame others for sleepwalking.  Ask Indian MPs in NZ Parliament, Kanwaljeet Singh Bakshi, Paramjeet Parmar’ and Mahesh Bindra – they are smarter than some Australian politicians when it comes to due diligence. Does somebody so ignorant of his genealogy and citizenship deserve to be Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister?

Julie Bishop need to dwell on this issue, rather than blaming others for political misfortune of her party.  After her boorish performance, it should be Jacinda Ardern who should be saying, that when Labour Party in New Zealand comes to power after election next month, (August 23, 2017) she would have difficulty working with an Australian Government with such shallow and interfering Ministers. 

Julie Bishop needs to appreciate that who sought clarification of NZ laws is irrelevant. The real issue is her interference in our elections. Bishop used this issue to suggest if NZ Labour won the upcoming election, then that Government would not be trusted by Australia. Ironically, she happens to be the one who is interfering in the electoral process of New Zealand and thus propping up National government. She appears to be attempting to influence NZ election outcome with her unethical and unwarranted threats. She is the real culprit who deserves scorn.

Jacinda Ardern, the new leader of NZ Labour Party (Centre), flanked by her Deputy, Kelvin Davis (left) and Finance Minster-in-waiting, Grant Robertson (right). Ardern came out with flying colours in this episode.Unlike Julie Bishop, she was composed, controlled, sensible, conciliatory, and was even smiling. 
In this whole sordid affair, anybody who came out shining and winners is Jacinda Ardern, who had been on the job for only some two weeks. In the first international controversy after taking the helm, she lived up to her reputation of the smiling assassin. Rightfully, she refused to apologise, as there was no wrongdoing on her part.

And unlike Julie Bishop, she was composed, controlled, sensible, conciliatory, and was even smiling. She did not call Bishop, but was, and is still, waiting for her to call her – as Julie Bishop was the one who drew first blood.

And that distracting stinking rat is back on the government side of Australian Parliament – creating a stink which may result Labour Party assuming control in Australia, as we will do in New Zealand.

[About the Author: Thakur Ranjit Singh is a NZ Labour Party Member, is a media commentator and runs his blog-FIJI PUNDIT] 

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Maa Tujhe Salaam – a Salute to India on Independence Day 2017

Maa Tujhe Salaam – a Salute to India on Independence Day 2017

Thakur Ranjit Singh, Auckland, New Zealand.

A salute to India on its 71st anniversary of independence -15 August, 2017.

On the night of 14 August, 1947, the first Prime Minister of Independent India, Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru, gave the historical, Tryst with Destiny speech”

Long years ago we made a tryst (date) with destiny (fate), and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially.

At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance. ”

Jai Hind-Hail India
I dedicate this article on behalf of Indian Diaspora in Auckland and also in memory of my Indian Girmitiya (indentured labourer) grandfather Bansi, to all the freedom fighters who were able to deliver this dream – a meeting with fate and cashing on the reality of an Independent India. 

I am a third generation Fijian (Indo Fijian).My grandfather Bansi, was displaced from Karouli, in Rajasthan and torn and tricked from his roots by British in 1915, to slave in Fiji to fill their coffer via sugar plantation, as an indentured (Girmitiya) labourer. I made a pilgrimage to his village some sixteen years ago.

Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of Independent India (left) with father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi. "Tryst with Destiny" was a speech made  to the Indian Constituent Assembly in The Parliament, on the eve of India's Independence, towards midnight on 14 August 1947.
As the Airbus 320 of Lufthansa Airlines glided towards Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi, it was a milestone in my life. This was a flight from Frankfurt, Germany, around midnight of 20 October, 2003. Fate destined that I , together with my good wife were passengers on that flight. I was filled with emotions and unprecedented feelings of delight. I had pledged on the burning pyre of my father that one day I would visit my grandfather’s birthplace, to trace my roots, and also visit the places that we only read in Holy Scriptures. The land we looked upon with awe and reverence, and called Bharat Mata –mother India. As I stepped out, I knelt down there and picked some dust and anointed on my forehead. This was the earth where Ram and Krishn also treaded, and so did my Aja, Bansi. And the land we only knew from Bollywood, and little bit from my Girmitiya grandfather. This was his birthplace.

Bharat Mata - Mother India. Maa Tujhe Salaam- a salute to India on its 70th Anniversary of Independence.

I had good and exciting memorable times in tracing my roots to my lineage and the land of Prithviraj Chauhan, near Jaipur in a small town called Karouli in Rajasthan. I was saddened to see that the economic development and progress in India has failed to reach remote areas, as sections of the country is gripped in poverty, with deep division in the then leaders. Karouli is very close to Vrindavan, Mathura and Taj Mahal, and near stronghold of dacoits like Gabbar Singh of Sholay fame, near Chambal Valley. But those things some other day.

When the then Indian PM Indira Gandhi visited Fiji over three decades ago in 1981, she had good advice for descendants of indentured Indian labourers or girmitiyas as we are known there. She told us that Fiji was now our country, hence we belonged there. As a result, we owed allegiance, loyalty and love for our country, Fiji.

Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai - the country where River Ganges flows-India. The great country where  this author went in 2003 to trace his roots in Rajasthan. This Raj Kapoor movie gave world a lesson on how to treat your visitors- Atithi Deva Bhava - visitors are our Gods. This is a lesson world leaders need to learn from India.
When Fiji’s racist and ethno-nationalist deposed Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase visited India some two decades ago, he failed to learn anything from Indian hospitality.  The uncrowned father of Indian movies, Raj Kapoor immortalized this aspect of Indian culture in his film, “Jis Desh Mein Ganga Baheti Hai” (the land where Ganges flows) with this song….”Mehmaan jo hamara hota hai, woh jaan se pyara hota hai, jyada ki nahin laalach humko thore mein gujara hota hai... hum us desh ke waasi hai jis desh mein Ganga baheti hai...” His song translates to say that we value our visitors more than our life; we do not lust or greed for much as we manage in little that we have... We hail from the land where the Ganges flows…. And from that land if Qarase had learnt that language of Indian love, he may still be ruling Fiji today. But he failed to do so at his peril. And as they say, the rest is history.

Nationalist leaders and others around the world should gain immensely from Indian history and the way of life. Ethnocentric Anglo Saxons, Europeans and other ignorant people who still regard India as a land of snake charmers and rope tricks need to see Akshay Kumar’s Bollywood movie Namastey London. (Greetings to London) They need to get a translation of episode where the protagonist Akshay Kumar, shuts up the great grandson of an English East Indian Company employee who was running down India and its people.

  1. Namastey London: a scene from the movie where the protagonist, Akshay Kumar tells the true tales of real India to a grandson of an Englishman whose grandfather served in  India [Click on the (blue) link above to see that scene- strongly recommended-very inspiring for anybody who hates ethnocentrism.)

By clasping his hands, Akshay says that when we Indians greet each other in the tradition of five thousand year old civilization, we fold our hands close to heart in Namastey (greetings) because we believe that God resides in the heart of every human being. 

We come from a nation where we allow a lady of Catholic Religion (Sonia Gandhi) to step aside for a Sikh (Manmohan Singh) to be sworn as the Prime Minister by a Muslim President (Abdul Kalam) to govern a nation with over 80% Hindus (India)

English is spoken and read more widely in India than in England. India has 5,600 newspapers, 35,000 magazines and 21 major languages with combined readership of 120 million, many more than in England. We have reached the moon and back but yet many Anglo Saxons (Europeans) still feel that India has reached only as far as gourd flute of snake charmers. We have third largest pool in the world of doctors, scientists and engineers. All these are of the details of our intellectual might, now look at our physical might.

May be the English grandfather did not tell that we have the third largest army in the world, and even then Indians clasp their hands in humility because they do not believe that they are above or beneath any individual…..end of the lesson. 

So next time you are confronted by an ethnocentric individual who runs down your Bharat Mata , then you repeat the above to shut him. Some good movies, among others, to enlighten you and your children on pride of India are Manoj Kumar’s Shaheed, Upkar and Purab aur Paschim.

Purab aur Pachhim  (East and West)), Manoj Kumar's movie that tells an exemplary tale of Indian culture versus London Anglo Saxon culture. A pride in promoting our culture-very relevant to our westernised Indian Diaspora, especially teens who frown on things Indian.
But how true are those dreams and future that Jawaharlal Nehru uttered some 70 years ago to the date?

The service of lndia means the service of the millions who suffer. It means the ending of poverty and ignorance and disease and inequality of opportunity. The ambition of the greatest man of our generation has been to wipe every tear from every eye. That may be beyond us but as long as there are tears and suffering, so long our work will not be over. And so we have to labour and to work and work…”

"You support me and be a good Indian, and I will make India number one..." NARENDRA MODI- The Lion of Gujarat - answer to our prayers for somebody to wrest back honour, dignity and respectability that Indian once commanded.
And that work shall continue. And we are proud that India today is in better hands than ever been so, under Narendra Modi. And shall we pray that he will be able to wrest back the dignity India once had. The economic development of the last 70 years has not trickled down to the common people. There is a lot more that needs to be done, where social justice is delivered to ALL Indians. 

A salute to India-Maa Tujhe Salaam

And as we raise the Tiranga, the tricolour flag of India, we pledge to emulate the dreams of our freedom fighters who brought independence to India.

Jai Hind (Hail India)

(About the Author: Thakur Ranjit Singh, based in Auckland, New Zealand, is a third generation Indo Fijian. He was born in Fiji Islands. His indentured grandfather, Bansi came as an indentured labourer to Fiji in 1915. Thakur runs his blog site, FIJI PUNDIT)

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Airport Trams - Labour’s Devil’s Advocate challenges Auckland Transport

Thakur Ranjit Singh

Since that infamous Chris Carter letter in 2011 which rolled current Auckland Mayor, Phil Goff as Labour leader, this Thakur, Kiwi Pundit/ Fiji Pundit, has been writing about Labour Party. Nobody took notice. Leader after leader changed: Phil Goff, David Shearer, David Cunliffe, and finally Andrew Little in the cleanest takeover by a resurrection of Helen Clark-Jacinda Ardern.

As they had failed to listen, scoring own goals and falling on their swords, I was forced to became Labour’s self-appointed Devil’s Advocate. This term originated in Roman Catholic Church where somebody from within a Church raised issues and argued against anybody marked for sainthood. In our current discussion, I am pretending to be against an idea or plan that a lot of people support, in order to make people discuss and consider it in greater detail. My intention is to enhance discussion. I am not an opponent but on the same side, but wish to raise issues so we are well geared to face our supporters.

Heavy Rail - Train

As Labour’s Devil’s Advocate, I would raise some questions to Auckland Transport (AT) which I consider as an uncontrolled Council Controlled Organisation (CCO) of Auckland Council (my satire). In response to NZ Herald editorial  raising many questions about suitability and credibility of trams on Dominion Road, the new Labour Leader, Jacinda Ardern attributed Auckland Transport (AT) and independent transport economists who gave them the idea of trams to Airport. They are supposed to have studied the issue in depth and came with the recommendation that trams was the best option for Auckland's transport future.

Yours Truly, Thakur Ranjit Singh, and my blog, FIJI PUNDIT have been ardent supporters of HEAVY RAIL linking airport. I suggested a heavy link from Puhinui Station (Southern Link) to Airport, via Puhinui Rd, linking Domestic and International Airports, and thence linking to wider Auckland rail network. 

I see this has been rejected in favour of trams. I may have been insignificant, but there is support from somebody who knows his stuff. He is Mike Lee  who is a councillor on the Auckland Council and the former chairman of the Auckland Regional Council. He chairs the transport committee of Auckland Council, and sits on the board of Auckland Transport. Many writers and critics are sceptical about Labour’s choice which is based on recommendation from AT. 
Light Rail looks good on Whiteboard, writes John Roughan in NZ Herald.
"The simple and obvious solution is a line to the nearest point on the main trunk, at Puhinui, just a few kilometres from the airport.

Light Rail -Tram

It is obvious to any passenger on the right side of a plane landing from the east. The line would cross flat land still farmed or leased for industry, easily acquired. There is not much more to say about it."

However, Auckland Transport thinks otherwise. Hence in my position as a Devil’s Advocate, I raise some questions, which Phil Twyford has to obtain from Auckland Transport, and its independent transport economist to satisfy scepticism of people who are opposed to trams in favour of heavy rail.

Shorter route from Puhinui Station to Airport-less than 7km mostly through farmland and green country, to link to National Rail Network

Here are some questions for Auckland Transport:

1) How much would it cost for a heavy link from Puhinui to Airport for a 7km link through green country? How long will it take?

2) How much will it cost for the 24 km link from Queen Street to Airport and how long will it take, considering a kilometre of Te Atatu Road took over 2 years?

3) What do they mean Southern is a heavily-used and cannot take any more traffic. Trains currently run at half hour intervals. What happens in the remainder 29 minutes?

4) Would light rail accommodate airport freight? If no, should not this link be used to replace freight trucks from roads?

5) Has Auckland Transport seen the setup of heavy rail link to Sydney Airport, and learnt from it?

6) As mentioned, Te Atatu Rd of some 1km took over 2 years, and huge frustrations from residents and businesses. For 500 metres of Muriwai roundabout, it is taking 2 years. How long will it take 10km from Queen Street to Motorway 20 link at Mt Roskill, involving residential and business disruptions, on relatively narrow roads with dense population?

7) How long will it take the remainder 14 km via Motorway 20 and 20A to the airport?

8) Dominion Rd is narrow and densely populated, especially between New North Rd to Balmoral Rd. There would be long disruptions to businesses in that congested area. How will two lanes of light rail link and road transport be accommodated without demolishing buildings, some of which have heritage recognition? How will cyclists be accommodated?

9) Does light rail climb hills?

10) Could not light rail in the city and heavy rail link from Puhinui to airport run in conjunction, supplementing each other?

We need answers. To Auckland Transport and its independent transport economists: Let’s do this
[About the Author: Thakur Ranjit Singh is a Labour Party member and supporter. He runs his blog Fiji Pundit]