Wellington Scoop

Chris Finlayson on National’s poor performance – “got what they deserved”

Report from RNZ
Former Wellington National Party MP Chris Finlayson says long-serving representatives Gerry Brownlee and Nick Smith have run their races.

Finlayson served in Parliament from 2005 until 2019 including as a minister and the Attorney-General during the John Key era.

He says he hopes Smith – who has been beaten in the Nelson seat he’s held since 1996 – doesn’t return as a list MP.

Finlayson praised Brownlee’s tenure but says he also needs to call it a day – after losing the Ilam seat to Labour.

“The trouble with me is I don’t personalise it but as a matter of principle I happen to believe in term limits – that you should do about 15 years and then get lost, and if you can’t achieve something in 15 years then you’re a bit of loser.”

He says the party’s kicking in the polls was deserved.

“It’s probably a good thing that there’s been a bit of a clean-out. I think the phone’s been off the hook now for some months.

“Judith [Collins] stemmed the bleeding but any rational observer looking back at the last 18 months would say the National Party has performed very very poorly and they got what they deserved.”

Jacinda Ardern is meeting senior Labour MPs this afternoon as they take stock of the party’s landslide election victory. Labour is on track to form the first majority government in the MMP era.

Green co-leader Marama Davidson this morning indicated a willingness to join Labour in governing, saying she’d like a ministerial role. But Ardern last night said she still had to consider what sort of arrangement might eventuate.


  1. michael, 18. October 2020, 17:18

    If Labour doesn’t govern by themselves then they are snubbing all those who voted for them! If they have a majority, then there is no excuse not to and stand on their own merits instead of being hamstrung by other parties. Let’s see if Jacinda has the courage to do that.

  2. claire, 18. October 2020, 18:32

    Chris has got it absolutely correct. The National Party have suffered from terminal arrogance, have never really accepted the 2017 loss and failed to understand Mmp. They have been falling behind on key issues such as climate change, equality, actually things they call woke issues. They are causing embarrassment. For example the obesity comment made by Judith Collins. And the implosion regarding the leaking of a covid list by Michelle Boag. The remnants of dirty politics. It will take a few years to reform and be credible.

  3. TrevorH, 19. October 2020, 7:31

    Ardern spoke on election night of governing for all New Zealanders. She no doubt understands that many centre-Right voters have put their trust in her, as evidenced by seats like Ilam turning to Labour, and that she should pursue a moderate course that works for as many New Zealanders as possible in the COVID recovery ahead. She doesn’t need the Greens but if she wants to toss them a bone I believe the Racing portfolio has now become available. National need to rediscover their mojo. A renewed commitment to civil liberties, especially free speech which has served Act so well, would be a useful start.

  4. Kara, 20. October 2020, 11:19

    I fully expect Kelvin Davis to be the deputy PM due to his position in the party. However that doesn’t preclude some MPs from the Greens being appointed to appropriate ministerial portfolios.

  5. Dave B, 20. October 2020, 16:36

    Julie Anne Genter is the obvious choice for Minister of Transport, despite not being a Labour MP. She seems to be the only person in parliament who knows anything about transport. Former Transport Ministers Steven Joyce, Gerry Brownlee and Simon Bridges had no progressive ideas at all and simply pursued tired old road-building policies from the past. Phil Twyford was put in charge of both transport and housing but didn’t do justice to either. Let him now focus on housing and let Julie Anne take transport.

  6. Mike Mellor, 21. October 2020, 6:53

    Agreed, Dave B, except for her dreadful proposal to turn every footpath into a path shared with people on bikes at up to 15 km/h, such a speed being defined as “slow” despite being three times the maximum speed of nearly everyone on foot.

    That will not only be bad for pedestrians but bad for cyclists, too: if there’s perceived to be a “safe” (for cyclists, actually the opposite for pedestrians) option of riding on the footpath, what justification is there for providing proper safe bike facilities?

  7. Rosamund, 21. October 2020, 8:51

    Maybe National would consider appointing Winston Peters as their leader. Having listened to Judith Collins since the election, it seems that she has “heard nothing” and is unwisely going to be part of the “review” when she would be better distancing herself from proceedings. Let’s hope that the overwhelming support for the progressives is used to support those with greatest need.

  8. Dave B, 21. October 2020, 11:37

    @ Mike Mellor – I was not aware that Julie Anne Genter had proposed doing this to “every footpath”. Are you sure?
    From what I know of her, she has a deep concern for the safety of all ‘vulnerable road users’. If she really has overlooked an important element of pedestrian safety here, then I suspect she will be very open to submissions pointing this out.

  9. greenwelly, 21. October 2020, 12:23

    @ Dave B. It’s part of the “accessible streets” proposal she put forward. It would – redefine the users of the footpath, and allow users to ravel no faster than 15km/h, and ride a device less than 750mm wide so multiple people can still use the footpath.
    It would be pretty much open slather.

  10. Mike Mellor, 21. October 2020, 12:44

    Dave B: see https://www.nzta.govt.nz/assets/consultation/accessible-streets/Yellow-Draft-LTR-Paths-and-Road-Margins-2020.pdf, Section 3.1(1), which says “A person may ride a cycle or transport device or drive a mobility device on a footpath if they comply with this clause”, followed by some specific requirements, but the generality of this paragraph still applies.
    Submissions have indeed pointed this out: for example, see here.

  11. Richard Keller, 21. October 2020, 14:24

    This was a ‘Covid-19’ election. New Labour voters will understand that and voted that way because that is a priority. They will accept that Labour / Greens(?) will pursue their intended policies. But what are those policies, really? Labour is a Neo-Liberal party not a ‘left’ party. The Greens need to be strong in showing who they really are, which is what? We shall see.

  12. D'Esterre, 22. October 2020, 23:30

    Dave B: “Julie Anne Genter is the obvious choice for Minister of Transport….” This would be the same Julie Anne Genter who put the kibosh on our sorely-needed second Mt Vic tunnel. There has been so much development on the airport side of Mt Vic, the extra residents need more road space. Even if they use buses, bikes and rideshares, they still need adequate roading. And the same Julie Anne Genter who has proposed the bizarre notion of shared pathways, 15kmh top speeds and disregard pedestrians who will bear the brunt of the inevitable collisions. Especially those of us who are disabled, or older and less spry.

    And – a fortiori – the same Julie Anne Genter who, with Phil Twyford, forced upon us the NPS-UD, which has the force of law under the provisions of the RMA. And is the legal justification for WCC’s contentious draft spatial plan. A few weeks ago, we went to a candidates’ meeting for our electorate. Three of the candidates were sitting MPs. They told us that the proposed NPS-UD didn’t go through the select committee process: it was simply gazetted under the provisions of the RMA. So: not democracy.

  13. CC, 23. October 2020, 8:40

    On reading you comment D’Esterre, it is obvious that Dave B is right! Wellington needs to get beyond the shorttermism and four lanes to the planes mentality that has crippled the city’s progress. For what it is worth, Julie-Ann Genter is more qualified to participate in decision making regarding public transport than most ministers in respect of their portfolios. Your final comment seems somewhat awry when NPS-UD policy was tacitly endorsed by a General Election result.

  14. D'Esterre, 23. October 2020, 14:24

    CC: “…the shorttermism and four lanes to the planes mentality…” Another tunnel provides extra roading capacity, along with some redundancy in the event of natural disasters.

    “…NPS-UD policy was tacitly endorsed by a General Election result.” I’ll bet dollars to doughnuts that most voters wouldn’t know what the NPS-UD is. The only reason we unfortunates – or some of us – in Wellington are aware of it is because of WCC’s draft spatial plan, which adduces it as legal justification for what it wants to do.

  15. Dave B, 23. October 2020, 20:49

    Thanks all for the various responses to my comment re Julie Anne Genter for Minister of Transport, and the various links provided.

    As regards the cycles on footpaths proposal, I have skimmed through the Accessible Streets Overview and noted this clause:
    “We propose that road controlling authorities, like local councils, will be able to lower the speed limit on the footpath to 10km/h or 5km/h. They will not be able to increase the speed limit.” To me, this says that there will not be carte-blanche to ride at 15Km/h on every footpath, but that 15Km/h is an absolute maximum for situations which allow it, and that much lower limits will apply where 15Km/h is inappropriate. Obviously there are many narrow footpaths which are inappropriate for cycling at all or at anything other than walking-speed.

    The proposal also stresses the need for courtesy and giving pedestrians priority. I wish a 15Km/h limit, some courtesy and pedestrian priority would be shown by certain cyclists who currently abuse all of these along the Wellington Waterfront shared-area. I think it is quite probable that the proposals would help focus the minds of cyclists on their responsibilities in such situations. I see merit in the proposals and I don’t think they should be shot down with scaremongering claims based on exaggerated or worst-case interpretations.

    Yes, there will always be idiots who will do stupid things, just as there are on the roads (quite likely the same people, once they graduate from bike to car). But to be consistent, if we ban all cycling from all footpaths because of these morons, should we not by the same token ban all driving from all roads? We don’t do this because we trust a sensible majority to abide by the rules.

  16. Mike Mellor, 23. October 2020, 20:57

    D’Esterre: another Mt Vic tunnel would provide extra roading capacity, but much less transport capacity than a tunnel for public transport, which LGWM is considering as part of Mass Rapid Transit. Private cars are the most inefficient users of road space (and, of course, the greatest carbon and particulate emitters), so it makes little sense to prioritise a tunnel for them.

    And a new road tunnel will generate more traffic, which will generate more congestion at both ends of the tunnel. In the eastern suburbs that will mean more vehicles trying to squeeze into existing congested areas such as Calabar Rd and Miramar Avenue, making things worse – unless we provide proper choice to travellers in the form of high quality public transport (ie LGWM’s MRT). That will provide the transport capacity that is needed, freeing up space for tradies, freight and others that have no real alternative to driving, in an efficient low-carbon and low-particulate way.

  17. Northland, 23. October 2020, 22:59

    There should have been 2 lanes each way to the eastern suburbs from the outset. Certainly, now, the population growth on that side of Mount Vic demands it.

    The idea that ‘four lanes to the planes mentality’ has crippled the city’s progress is laughable. What has crippled the city’s progress is too much talking and not enough doing by the likes of LGWM. Roading and public transport links are not mutually exclusive. There is, and should be, room for both.

  18. Dave B, 24. October 2020, 1:10

    @ Northland: “Roading and public transport links are not mutually exclusive. There is, and should be, room for both”.
    Unfortunately we have prioritized roading to an enormous extent for at least 50 years, neglecting public transport abysmally and leading to things like the cancelling of 1960s proposals for underground rail in both Auckland and Wellington. Against this sorry back-drop, public transport has a lot of catching-up to do, so we need to give it some serious priority for the forseable future, instead of yet-more road-expansion which simply worsens the problem of excessive car-use.

  19. Mike Mellor, 24. October 2020, 10:20

    Dave B: thanks for quoting that section of the Accessible Streets proposal, which confirms that the default position is proposed to be bikes etc allowed on all footpaths at 15km/h. Sure councils will have the ability to reduce this, but this will be subject to the usual lengthy, thorough and detailed local government processes, requiring time, money and political will, many of which local councils are short of, followed by the costs (eg signage) of implementation (central government is always good at pushing costs onto local government!).

    So no “scaremongering claims based on exaggerated or worst-case interpretations”, I’m afraid – just facts.

    And I’m sure that you’re aware that cycling is currently banned on all footpaths, so your last paragraph is perhaps a bit hyperbolic.

    But you’re spot on about the historical lack of investment in public transport through the city: in fact, in recent years there has been disinvestment in infrastructure with the removal of the trolleybus network, the only significant spending being on the bus hubs, of which the less said the better.

  20. D'Esterre, 25. October 2020, 21:41

    Dave B: “….local councils will be able to lower the speed limit on the footpath to 10km/h or 5km/h. They will not be able to increase the speed limit.” When we lived in the provinces, I biked a good deal. My experience says that 5kmh – more or less walking speed – isn’t feasible. Wobbles and falling off are big problems at such a low speed.

    “…there are many narrow footpaths which are inappropriate for cycling at all…” True enough. That’s the case in our suburb. There are, nevertheless, many children – and some adults – who ride bikes on our footpaths hereabouts. Just recently, I was almost skittled by a child on a scooter coming very fast round a blind corner, followed by said child’s father on a bike and also on the footpath. It was a close-run thing…

    “…or at anything other than walking-speed.” See my comment above.

    “…I don’t think they should be shot down with scaremongering claims based on exaggerated or worst-case interpretations.” This is the problem: they’re not scaremongering. Children are the most unpredictable: and they can do as much damage to somebody of my age as can an adult. Not to mention to themselves.

    “…if we ban all cycling from all footpaths…” And here we have the nub of the issue: footpaths are for the exclusive use of pedestrians. Hence the name. People who wish to bike need to use a dedicated bike-path. And if there is no room for one – as is for the most part the case in this suburb – they must perforce brave the rigours of the roads. Or use public transport (or walk).

    Mike Mellor: “…extra roading capacity, but much less transport capacity than a tunnel for public transport, which LGWM is considering as part of Mass Rapid Transit.” Aside from the question of whether LGWM will deliver anything of substance – in particular MRT – there is already a bus tunnel through Mt Vic. Surely that’s part of a public transport system? Though at the time of the local authority elections, we heard that the tunnel is no longer being used for buses. If that’s true, it’s presumably because the new buses are too large for it. As to extra roading capacity, public transport also needs extra roading capacity. Buses, eg; the trams I recall from my youth; MRT (last I saw of the proposals).

    “… a new road tunnel will generate more traffic, which will generate more congestion at both ends of the tunnel.” Traffic to the CBD will be governed by the availability of parking, as it is now. Through traffic – out of the city or to the airport – will proceed as it does now, though the journey may be a little easier. At present, getting to the airport on time can be a chancy business.

    Northland: “There should have been 2 lanes each way to the eastern suburbs from the outset.” Agreed. Time to remedy that deficiency.


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