In the first year or so after John Key became our 38th prime minister, I wrote a column about how fed up I was with his constant refrain about how comf't'ble he was with everything.
Pick an issue, any issue, question John Key on it, and he would follow a predictable script. He'd give you the pros, the cons, the wee, scrunched-up face and then eventually, and inevitably, the final refrain of "yeah, nah, well I'm comf't'ble with the way the Government's handling this".
I wanted him to be a little less comfortable and a little more proactive in getting on with making the hard calls this country needed him to make.
He was an enormously popular prime minister for most of his tenancy in the Beehive, but that's largely because he knew which way the winds of popular opinion blew, not because he made clarion calls for action.
You certainly couldn't accuse this coalition Government of taking a sanguine, laid-back, whatevs approach to governing. Whether you agree with the vision or not, they're grasping the nettle and making the hard and often unpopular calls. Like trying to turn us all into a nation of cyclists and public transport users. And moving away from fossil fuels and powering the country with sun, wind and unicorn kisses.
This is typical Labour/Greens thinking. They want us to be better people and they want to be kind to Mother Earth.
Cycling is good for our health and it's good for the health of the planet. Let's do this! Gone are the roads of national significance. Instead, we have a 248 per cent increase in the funding of cycleways and walkways, which will be paid for by an excise tax on fuel. In effect, motorists are going to fund their own demise.
I know we need to encourage people to get out of their cars and to make the best use of public transport because everybody in authority has been telling me that's what we need to do. I live in West Lynn, for heaven's sake, where Auckland Transport has been adamant that the people in the neighbourhood will have cycleways whether they bloody well want them or not. Talk about a middle-class indulgence.
The project has been fraught and hugely more expensive than first envisaged with engineering errors having to be rectified, business people going ballistic at the loss of trade and professional protesters having to be placated.
And when I was in Wellington recently, much of the talkback in the capital was that they're sick and tired of being told they're a city of vibrant, sophisticated, Scandinavian-style cyclists. The Island Bay cycleway - like the Westmere Grey Lynn cycleway that came after it - has been a flashpoint for anger, division and despair. And again, it's going to be far more expensive than first costings suggested because it's having to be refashioned.
Perhaps one day, we'll snap and give in. If we're told often enough that we must cycle, that we have to get out there pumping our pedals to save the world's ozone layer and our own hardening arteries, we'll scrap the club sport, hop on our electric bikes and submit.
Fine. Have it your way. We're bloody cyclists. We'll put solar panels on the roof. The Labour-Greens vision for this country is a Utopia peopled with smiling cyclists, graciously giving way at intersections, riding to their carbon neutral workplaces and returning to their homes, powered by natural energy. And maybe it will come true. I have my doubts about this generation, but maybe the next will prove to be an ersatz Scandinavia of the South Pacific. In the meantime, you can accuse this Government of many things, but not of failing to pin its colours to the mast.