Deja vu all over again

Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Photo by Peter McIntosh.
At last, following Monday's Dunedin City Council meeting, the long-running issue of what to do about John Wilson Ocean Dr has been laid to rest. Or has it?

Such has been the history of argument, back-tracking, tip-toeing and to-ing and fro-ing that nobody could be too surprised were there to be some future intervention overturning the new status quo - an unhappy child of compromise if there ever was one.

By eight votes to seven, the council voted to reopen the road to vehicles - for part of the time. As of next July, the drive will be open to vehicles between 11am to 2pm on weekdays and closed to them at weekends and on public holidays.

For most drivers this is as likely to prove unsatisfactory as it is to pedestrians, strollers and cyclists: neither one thing nor the other, and the choice of opening hours surely is something of a mystery, except perhaps for a few lunchtime picnickers, and those who have either yet to join, or have left, the workforce.

The measure will cost further money: $45,000 worth of speed humps, road markings and other traffic-calming measures will be installed following further and previously planned $125,000 road resealing works. But given the restricted traffic flows, is that planned expenditure even necessary?

It will certainly add to the already escalating bill indecision and argument on the part of the city's councillors have incurred.

It should be said, however, that this is one of those hyper-local issues that citizens have felt very strongly about. Some see it as a flagrant abuse of rights that vehicle access to this picturesque seaside drive and lookout should be terminated. Others that it is the only sensible option. And others still that the whole discussion has been an absurd and unnecessary waste of money.

Debate over the future of John Wilson Ocean Dr began in earnest two and a-half years ago following the announcement - in the wake of its 2006 closure for the construction of the Tahuna outfall pipe - that it would remain closed indefinitely. In the years since, the public and the council have been divided over the issue. At the centre of it all, has been the delicate, complex and multi- layered issue of public safety pertaining to Lawyers Head and the access afforded it by an open road.

This has undoubtedly weighed on the minds of councillors and of media alike and has perhaps muted some of the debate around the issue - in part because the matter is so complex and in part because there is good evidence that detailed and insensitive exposure of that public safety issue could exacerbate the problem.

The degree of division in council over the matter only serves to confirm the degree of difficulty surrounding it.

A sporting blunder
The capture of Australian cricket authorities by what can only be described as an unholy alliance of digital technology, business interests and partisan sentiment is a blunder that reflects poorly on the game and its administrators. Allowing the man of the match of a cricket test match to be selected by a texting public makes a mockery of judicious and disinterested sporting judgement.

New Zealand beat Australia in the second test in Hobart on Monday to draw the series. It was a famous victory for the Black Caps, secured by a magnificent performance by young fast bowler Doug Bracewell - who took six wickets for 40 runs in the second innings and nine for 60 in the match. The man of the match award went to Australian batsman David Warner - who admittedly played an outstanding innings to score 124 not out and carry his bat under trying batting conditions, almost seeing the Australians home to victory.


But it was Bracewell's potent, fiery and accurate bowling which saw off the likes of Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke and Mike Hussey - and sealed the match when he skittled No 11 batsman Nathan Lyon. As admirable as Warner's innings was, it is Bracewell's effort that will go down in the history books as the decisive contribution. That he was not accorded top honours is to Australian cricket's shame; and, incidentally, an indictment of its fans' skewed sense of sportsmanship - a fact acknowledged even by the home nation's at times overly partisan broadcasters.


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