No Minister

NZ Labour’s Colonel Cargill

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I was amused to see this news yesterday from Stuff via Kiwiblog, Light rail follows Kiwibuild into oblivion:

The Government’s flagship infrastructure project has been put “on hold” while it fights the Covid-19 pandemic, but there are some doubts it will ever get going again.

Transport Minister Phil Twyford said decisions on Auckland’s light rail project “are on hold while the Government’s full focus is on fighting Covid-19”.

During the election campaign, Labour had promised to have the first stage of the Auckland light rail scheme built by 2021.

But after a long and protracted process, the Government has yet to decide who will build the scheme, let alone begin construction.

As David Farrar points out:

It’s worse than that. They haven’t even decided a route. We’re well over halfway to their promise of having built 13 kms by December 2021…

Auckland Light Rail and Kiwibuild eh? And the common factor is Phil Twyford. It immediately reminded me of the character of Colonel Cargill from the novel Catch 22, who was very successful in business before being drafted into the USAAF:

Before the war, he had been an alert, hard-hitting, aggressive marketing executive. 

He was a very bad marketing executive. Colonel Cargill was so bad a marketing executive that his services were much sought after by firms eager to establish losses for tax purposes.

Throughout the civilized world, from Battery Park to Fulton Street, he was known as a dependable man for a fast tax write-off. His prices were high, for failure often did not come easily. He had to start at the top and work himself down, and with sympathetic friends in Washington, losing money was no simple matter.

It took months of hard work and careful misplanning. A person misplaced, disorganized, miscalculated, overlooked everything and opened every loophole, and just when he thought he had it made, the government gave him a lake or a forest or an oilfield and spoiled everything.

Even with such handicaps, Colonel Cargill could be relied on to run the most prosperous enterprise into the ground. He was a self-made man who owed his lack of success to nobody.

Perhaps Twyford has a future in the private sector after all.

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Written by Tom Hunter

May 15, 2020 at 12:25 pm

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