Wellington Scoop

Translating the Transport Agency

We’ve all looked at some of the Transport Agency’s pronouncements over recent years and wondered what they really meant. Fear not, we’re here to save the day by translating their latest statement on the Basin Reserve flyover appeal – from High Bureaucratese into Plain English:

What they said: “We are appealing the Board’s decision to decline the Basin Bridge on a number of significant errors of law. These are errors which we believe have had a significant impact on the Board’s decision in this case.”
Translation: Mummy didn’t give us what we wanted, so we’re going to go and ask Daddy.

What they said: “We are also concerned by the flow on effect of these errors, which create uncertainty in the law that could impact on the ability of the Transport Agency and other network and utility operators to deliver vital infrastructure.”
Translation: We’re running out of work now that Memorial Park is nearly finished. If we don’t start the flyover soon, we’ll have to dig up Victoria Street on a whim and pretend it’s got something to do with making the city more liveable.

What they said: “If we have concerns about the manner in which the Resource Management Act has been applied, then we have a duty to raise this through the correct legal process to ensure that the decision is correct in all respects, and can be used as a guide for future applications.”
Translation: Yes, we’re as petulant as that sentence sounds.

What they said: “We need the questions raised in our Appeal to be answered before we can move forward with confidence on improving Wellington’s transport system, starting at the Basin.”
Translation: We’re going to stamp our feet and hold our breath until we get our way.

What they said: “Given that sequentially planned transport projects are often contingent on one another to proceed, it is important for ‘real world’ transport planning that we can capture and recognise the enabling benefits of projects such as the Basin Bridge. Disregarding future projects simply because they are not yet consented creates a ‘chicken and egg’ scenario.”
Translation: We hate having to deal with reality. Expecting us to get our plans lined up and demonstrate that they actually deliver anything of value is too tall a hurdle for us to get over. Why didn’t the Board of Inquiry just roll over for us, like they did for Transmission Gully?

What they said: “Mr Brash says the decision also creates potentially insurmountable obstacles in regards to the assessment of alternatives when developing future projects.”
Translation: I don’t like having to present options – it’s my way or the highway! Actually, my way is the highway.

What they said: “The Transport Agency notes that the decision was a majority decision rather than a unanimous decision, and the Agency largely concurs with the analysis and rationale provided in the minority decision.”
Translation: We liked the dissenting guy – those other people were nasty to us.

What they said: “Mr Brash says the Agency gave extensive consideration to whether an appeal was appropriate.”
Translation: It took us ten seconds to decide to appeal … but Gerry Brownlee told us to wait until after the election before we said anything.

What they said: “We have not made this decision lightly, and we believe that the cost of appealing will be far outweighed by the benefits of having certainty for forward planning on other projects.”
Translation: We’ve spent $10.9 million of your money so far on this white elephant, and we’re intent on doubling down on that bad bet.

What they said: “…the Transport Agency will continue to work actively with its partners at Wellington City Council and Greater Wellington on how best to progress with plans to improve transport …”
Translation: You local government types can take your Plan B and stick it where the sun don’t shine.

What they said: “the Board failed to recognise and give weight to the fact that the project is essential to the implementation of future projects such as Mt Victoria duplication or Bus Rapid Transit.”
Translation: They didn’t believe our fictional benefits, so they’re not our friends any more.

Of course we could go on like this for quite some time – the Transport Agency press release is a goldmine of entertaining PR blather and the sort of institutional double-speak that would bring a smile to the face of George Orwell. But thanks to the power of the Internet, you too can have the fun of online translation – pick the juiciest bit of the statement and offer your version in the comments below.