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A regional top ten

baby councillor

by Thomas Nash
Every day I feel a big sense of responsibility representing the Wellington region as an elected councillor. As we finish the year at the council, it’s a good time to look back at all the stuff we got done in 2021. Here are my top ten highlights.

1. The biggest highlight of the year for me was welcoming my son Idris into the world and I want to thank everyone at the Council for warmly welcoming him in as well, even inviting him to sit through a transport committee with me as pictured above!

2. We’ve increased bus driver wages to a base rate of at least $27 and we are working with the bus companies to bring every driver on the network up to at least this level. Getting decent pay and conditions for drivers was my top campaign priority.

3. We have ended grazing in our regional park land on the Kāpiti Coast so that we can accelerate restoration of wetlands. We have so few wetlands left and they are vital natural infrastructure.

4. We’ve used our cost-neutral Low Carbon Acceleration Fund to fully finance a multi million dollar plan to restore native ecosystems in our regional parks by borrowing against our carbon credits as they increase in value.

5. We’ve announced a new all-electric airport express bus service on Metlink’s public network, starting July next year and operated by Mana Newlands / Transdev. I campaigned for a public rather than private airport bus and I will push it for it be as affordable as possible.

6. We’ve welcomed the Southern Hemisphere’s first electric ferry – Ika Rere – into the Metlink public transport network providing cross-harbour services with East by West. The boat was built in the Hutt Valley and is hopefully the first of many produced in the region.

7. We’ve committed to a trial of free weekend public transport in March and we are looking at other fare discount trials. I’ll keep pushing hard for free fares for community services card holders, students and under 25s.

snapper on trains

8. We’ve introduced Snapper on rail and said we will look to roll it out across the whole network by the end of 2022. This will make life a whole lot easier for people traveling around the network and transferring between train and bus ahead of national integrated ticketing.

9. We have completed a feasibility study on the proposed threatened species sanctuary in Wainuiomata. This initiative is a really promising partnership between mana whenua, local and central government.

10. We’ve become the first council, alongside Wellington City, to get a green loan as part of a new loan programme from LGFA. The $227m loan is for RiverLink flood protection work in Lower Hutt. Green bonds were a campaign priority for me.

When I stood for the regional council in 2019 I campaigned to: increase driver wages; get a public airport bus; get Snapper on rail; end grazing and restore wetlands in regional parks; pursue green bonds for infrastructure. Things are happening, but we have lots to do.

We have a clear, but narrow window of opportunity to deliver climate justice and we have to take action urgently and equitably. It’s hard work, but I’m encouraged about what the council has been able to achieve so far. It shows what’s possible when local government works well.

I’m excited and motivated about the work to come, especially the work to renew Wellington City’s transport infrastructure through LGWM so that we can all enjoy a liveable, climate friendly city that is ready to welcome more people and families well into the future. More on that here. In the meantime I wish everyone a very happy summer of good health and good cheer.

Cr Thomas Nash is chair of the Wellington Regional Council’s Climate Committee. Outside the council, he is co-founder and co-director of independent think tank New Zealand Alternative and social entrepreneur in residence at Massey University. Thomas has 20 years’ experience working for social change, influencing law and policy at the local, national and international level.

4 comments:

  1. Helene, 22. December 2021, 13:51

    Baby steps for sure. Congratulations. Many happies.

     
  2. Andrew, 22. December 2021, 15:03

    I’m assuming that the introduction of Snapper on to the trains signals the end of the friendly clippie.

     
  3. Graham Atkinson, 23. December 2021, 9:13

    Andrew: Auckland Transport still have clippies and train managers on their trains despite almost 100% adoption of the Hop Card so no reason not to have similar staffing here I’d imagine.

     
  4. IanS, 2. January 2022, 17:46

    Well said Thomas. I also want Green Bonds funding to be one of the mechanisms for financing our region’s and city’s significant transport infrastructure projects. Why can citizens not invest some of their superannuation and savings into bonds that support these infrastructure projects in our communities?

    We should not need Canadian Teachers’ Superannuation funds to be investing for significant periods in ‘our’ light rail systems (at high interest rates and in risky overseas currencies).