Wellington Scoop

A matter of context?

One sentence reported yesterday from deputy mayor Ian McKinnon has been a reminder that the city council is due to start investigating non-flyover roading options round the Basin Reserve.

In yesterday’s DomPost, Mr McKinnon was questioned about the council’s December decision to investigate alternative plans. (There are at least two of them.) He said the council – which is due to spend $50,000 on its investigation – intended to meet the deadline of March 1 which has been imposed by the Transport Agency. The report then went on:

Asked if the council would support the flyover if it couldn’t identify a better alternative, he said he expected NZTA to continue down that path after the council’s work was complete.

Anti-flyover campaigners interpreted that sentence as meaning that he expected the Transport Agency would press ahead with the flyover, regardless of the results of the council investigation. But the deputy mayor has today clarified his remarks, and he says the DomPost’s wording didn’t exactly convey what he said:

“If it couldn’t identify a better alternative, he expected NZTA to continue down that [flyover] path after the Council’s work was complete.’

It’s a matter of context. When you leave out the first eight words of the DomPost sentence, the meaning changes.

After reading the original DomPost report, the campaigners issued a statement challenging the integrity of the council’s investigation.

Mr McKinnon responded today. He’s not happy that the campaigners omitted seven words from their statement:

Those words [if it couldn’t identify a better alternative] are crucial … for they give the purpose of this exercise of the Council working with NZTA:
. For the Council to show NZTA there is / are better options (to the proposed flyover)
But NZTA (not me – see the DomPost article) has indicated:
. If no better alternative is found it will continue with the processes required of such a project.
I have simply given the facts of what is now taking place as a result of a Council vote which, of course, I must accept.
I was also asked how Council would respond to NZTA’s request for Council support of its option if no alternative could be found. I did not answer that question for the obvious reason that I don’t know how Council will respond in early March once this specific interaction of Council and NZTA is concluded.

The deputy mayor’s reported remarks, made in his capacity as “Acting Mayor,” were a reminder that he is a flyover supporter who was one of a minority of seven councillors who opposed the investigation. The decision was passed with eight votes, including the vote of Mayor Celia Wade-Brown. In her absence, transport portfolio leader Andy Foster, who moved the successful resolution, should be defending the value of the investigation, and should also be telling us when it’s due to begin.

This article was revised four hours after it was first published, to include the response from the deputy mayor.


  1. traveler, 16. January 2013, 22:25

    Here’s hoping that the council investigation will save Wellington from the flyover. Here’s hoping the investigation also persuades one or two councillors to change their pro-flyover stance

  2. Lee, 16. January 2013, 22:49

    I agree, traveler.
    Heaps of us are hoping for a fair appraisal of the alternatives that includes consideration of the public’s anger by the NZTA’s choice to limit comment to only one of two options and both options were – surprise! – a flyover.
    The choice was Dumb or Dumber.

  3. Kb, 18. January 2013, 10:18

    I hope they include the option of “doing nothing” as a viable alternative.