Jim Hopkins on current issues

Jim Hopkins is a Herald columnist

Jim Hopkins: We'll be tossing and turning at 5am on Sunday

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The give way rule changes on March 25. Photo / Lynda Feringa
The give way rule changes on March 25. Photo / Lynda Feringa

Intersection u-turn could easily lead to drivers turning to other transport modes.

It's going to be chaos. There's no two ways about it. The very best place for any of us come 5am on Sunday will be between the sheets, not on the streets. Better bed than dead is the advice, unless, of course, we're happy to let chaos reign and the scuppers run with gore.

Because that's what will happen, sure as eggs. We'll be like Lamborghinis to the slaughter out there; dithering, dallying and desperately trying to remember what we're supposed to do and when we're supposed to turn.

We all know we've got to turn. But will we remember how to turn or which goes first, Car A or B and what happens if Cars C and D arrive halfway through the sequence - that is the question.

And it's a big ask, as the actress said to the bishop. Breaking the habits of a lifetime is hard - that's why the Blues keep losing. But if we don't, we could find ourselves charged with being members of a disorganised criminal group, namely the bewildered motorists of Outer Roa.

And it will be us that gets hung, not the jury.

So this is big, no two ways about it. Which makes the media's passivity all the more perplexing. The ladies and gentlemen of the press, so often not for turning, have, in this instance, not held anyone to account. Except here; true to its crusading code, this column has boldly gone where others fear to tread by demanding to know where the elite stand on giving way.

Most, as you'd expect, are negative, but not all. The well known blogger, Comrade Slater, is hailing the move as "further proof of John Key's uncanny ability to cross traditional party boundaries. There was a time", says Mr Slater, "when the National Party would have insisted that anyone turning left had to give way to the right. But John Key's turned that kind of outmoded claptrap on its head. Giving the Left priority is a symbolic gesture that will further erode Labour's traditional support. David Shearer must be wondering where to turn".

New Labour leader David Shearer says he's wondering where to turn "and I'm sure a lot of other people are too. I want those people to know the Labour Party is there for them".

No such confusion for New Zealand Thirst leader, Winston Peters, who's bitterly disappointed he can't find "any blackmail or sex in this shabby little case. And Lord knows, I've tried. But what we have here is more meddling in the lives of dinkum Kiwis who just want the Crafar farms to stay in local hands. I denounce it, I deplore it and I call on the Minister of Transport to resign. As a car owner he has a clear conflict of interest and if the so-called sexiest politician in the country had any gumption, his minister would be gone by lunchtime. The jackals of the media may attempt to draw a fog of persiflage over the veil of confusion but people know what I stand for. And I won't stand for it. If we're not going around and around in circles it's no use to me". Mr Peters wants Grey Power members to get a second Gold Card if they remember what to do at intersections.

The Green Leader of the Joint Party, Metiria Turei, also opposes the move. "This weak-kneed surrender to the gas guzzlers and oil junkies will almost certainly drive decent folk like Lucy Lawless to the brink of madness, if she isn't there already. Anything that encourages the use of motor cars is a threat to polar bears, endangered snails and lesser species like human beings. The Greens won't be happy till our streets are knee deep in horse manure again. We have seen the future and it rides a bike. 'The top of the TREE goes before me' is what we should be saying. Pedal power to the people. Free the Urewera Four."

Act leader and Minister of Hot Drinks, John Banks, is supportive but concerned the change may not go far enough. "I want more choice for the intersections of Epsom and call on people to exercise personal responsibility in these troubled times."

Auckland Mayor Len Brown says the new law "only strengthens the case for trains in Auckland. Trains don't need to give way to anything and neither will we. This is the same as the local government reforms we've had foisted on us. They won't change anything and neither will this. It's full chuff ahead as far as I'm concerned".

And Mana Party leader Hone Harawira says if anyone should be giving way "it's those b****y honkies. We all know whose land these intersections are on, don't we?"

And there you have it - a wide range of opinions. But the overarching message is, "Be careful out there." If we've learned anything this week, on the road and in the House, it is that a single error of judgment can so easily lead to a judgment of error.

- NZ Herald

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