Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Drive, they said

Hearing the Greens on Checkpoint wrestling with the
vagaries of the Auckland transport system, if system it
can be called, I'm reminded of a blown opportunity
right up there with IBM turning away Bill Gates and
Decca saying no to the Beatles. In his memoir
A Lifetime in Politics
, former Labour MP Warren Freer
recalls that in the early 1960s the Auckland City Council
agreed to an inner-city underground rail system
connecting the northern and southern suburban lines.
Good grief. Was it so? “Mayor Dove Myer Robinson
even got to the stage of being photographed operating
a pneumatic drill where the work would be commenced.
Goosman put a finish to that! The Auckland motorway
system was born…”

Stan Goosman, the Minister of Works at the time, was,
Freer notes, a successful roading contractor whose
“natural leanings were towards development of roads and
motorways rather than rail.” The National government
also stopped—in its tracks, as it were—the Nelson railway
project started by its Labour predecessor. Drive, they said.

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