Wellington Scoop

Scaremongering – the vanishing houses

Friday’s Dominion Post was breathless with the claim that the lack of a Basin Reserve flyover will somehow cause “at least two years’ delays” to essential Wellington transport projects. This wasn’t just restricted to roading – it would, reported the newspaper guilelessly, also cast into doubt the future of 7,000 new homes.

Clearly, if you’re having trouble finding an affordable house to buy in the capital, the DomPost thinks you should blame the Board of Inquiry.

The report names the regional council’s corporate planning manager as the source of the warning about delays to transport projects. Yet the council’s chair Fran Wilde appears to contradict him – she says planning for the region’s major projects will not be put on hold, and big schemes will have to be grouped together as a package. Who can you believe?

And as for the claim about a threat to 7000 houses. To draw a direct linkage between a 300 metre flyover and billions of dollars of housing investment – most of which will be nowhere near the Eastern suburbs – reflects very poorly on the analytical abilities of the regional council’s staff who have included it in a report to be presented next week to a meeting of regional mayors.

As the saying goes, “correlation is not causation:” if two numbers move in the same direction this doesn’t prove that one caused the other. Yet there’s no attempt to prove correlation, let alone causation, and no evidence is quoted to show why 7,000 families won’t have a place to live because of a missing flyover. At wellington.scoop we’re looking forward to seeing the document in full. Right now, it seems no more than empty rhetoric looking for a place to hang its hat. Another truthiness problem.

As we pointed out earlier in the week, facts seem to have become the first casualties in the Regional Council’s transport battles. In the Eastern suburbs, what was billed on the council website as “more frequent service” somehow became 40% fewer buses per hour in real life. So there’s not a great history of telling it like it is, which means it’s hard to have confidence that any of the 7,000 houses are about to vanish with the flyover.

And what’s so compelling about this tissue-thin story that it deserves a prime place on the front page of the capital’s daily newspaper? With no substantive proof that the problem exists, we think the Dominion Post has been played by PR spin-meisters. It’s time they asked a few searching questions before unquestioningly regurgitating the talking points of Regional Council staff.

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