Politics matters - yeah, right

By Anthony Greer

"If elected I promise bigger tax cuts, improved health care, more police, better education, improved roads, a four-day working week, no traffic jams, free beer, world peace, hot air hostesses. - Yeah, right."

Campaign promises - they're made, but almost never fulfilled. Even Tui would agree with that.

Maybe that is why my parents passed on some of their experience to me. "Don't mind what they say; look at what they've done". My indifferent grandparents, however, hold a more jaundiced view and insist they have no time for politics at all.

Perhaps my grandparents are right. In times of economic downturn it appears no one in government can get it right. There seems to be a perpetual lust for "change" each election.

But one doesn't have to climb to the lofty parliamentary branch of government to find flaws. The advent of the Auckland "Supercity" Council promised many things, the most important of which was a 30-year plan to revamp Auckland's transport and commercial amenities.

Quite frankly, we needed that revamp. That's right, needed - not three decades in the future, but a month ago in the past.

I witnessed first-hand the nightmare that took the name of the "Rugby World Cup 2011 opening ceremony".

The logistical issues surrounding this event had been looming for quite some time. But rather than address it, the council decided the best course of action was to put on a mask of confidence that our transport system was up to scratch.

On the night of Friday, September 9, reality struck. It was a reality that stuck, as well - long past midnight.

Britomart train station, the heart of Auckland's "ever-reliable" transport network, was in a state of cardiac arrest.

Photos and accounts of the chaos that occurred graced the Herald's pages for nearly a week. Horror stories of dehydrated children on trains that seemed to literally stop dead in their tracks as riders abandoned them ran rampant.

Highlighting the council's inadequacy, the National Government assumed control of the Party Central venue in an attempt to give it a brighter future.

And oblivious to the disaster was Len Brown, the mayor of Auckland, employing the classic "point finger and duck" strategy.

He of all people, the big believer in public transport, chose to drive his car to Eden Park, contributing to the traffic congestion instead.

So why do we get hypocrites and the incompetent in power if there is an educated decision behind each vote?

In Barack Obama's bestseller The Audacity of Hope, the president recounted two of the most common questions he was asked on the campaign trail.

First: "Where'd you get that funny name?"

Then: "You seem like a nice enough guy. Why do you want to get into something dirty and nasty like politics?"

Fortunately for us New Zealanders, we don't come across the filthy or slippery species of politician as often as they do in America.

On the other hand, an observation can be made on the commonalities between all politicians, Kiwi and American alike. They are all good story-tellers. So good that they remind me of my toddler years, a time when fairy tales used to begin with, "Once upon a time ..."

Now they begin with, "Once I get elected ..."

Anthony Greer, Year 11, Auckland Grammar School

- NZ Herald

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