March 22, 2019

1960: Nelson-Blenheim Railway

March 2, 2019

By Anarchist History of New Zealand

Today in history, 1 March 1960, a crowd of some 3000 people gathered in Nelson on the occasion of work starting on the Blenheim to Nelson Railway. Or, Nelson to Blenheim Railway (depending on your point of view.) Really brings it home how much Labour 2.0 were conning everyone for the election. Getting 3000+ people’s hopes up, to their faces. The railway line was never to be completed. It did not make economic sense and rail was passing away at any rate. Yet, for the sentimental getting of votes Labour 2.0 promised to do it anyway.

Walter Nash, Prime Minister, officially opened the project on this day and unveiled a plaque to commemorate the occasion. That plaque sat abandoned for years, and embarrassment, but is set now in Nelson’s Founders Heritage Park. Work on the railway came to a sudden stop when the Auditor-General declared the project illegal! The only other time I know of a Prime Minister executing new laws without the consent of Parliament would be Muldoon in 1975. In both cases, of course, the Prime Ministers simply passed retrospective legislation to cover up their premature autocracy. Nash’s overstep was worse because he didn’t just say he’d do something, he went right ahead and started acting and the above photo is the criminal on film in the act of committing a crime!

On 29 July, the Nelson Railway Authorisation No 3 Act (1960) was passed, barely, by Labour 2.0. As shown in this contemporary Minhinnick cartoon, Nash was determined to ram through this silly railway. Facing General Election in November, it would have been suicide to back down on this election promise and Nash’s Government had enough problems. It wasn’t enough. Labour 2.0 was done, Holyoake’s strong National 2.0 team were in and this included their new Member the above mentioned Robert Muldoon.

Prime Minister Keith Holyoake killed the railway as soon as he had the power, and this time it was done without attracting heat from the Auditor-General. That’s politics! One gang ends the projects of the other gang and tries to plant their own. Then, if they win an election, they swap places and it goes back the other way. One particular old con/project that never seems to get old in New Zealand, or elsewhere, is promising some local population some railway. It ticks the box of sentimentally exciting the voters and it provides a great pay-off for the ruling gang by making sure the taxpayer’s money (Some 10-16 million pounds in this case)  is routed through contractors who are friends of the gang. Old Nash may not have won the election but he certainly managed to pull off better Music Man cons like this than his grandson yet has!


Image ref. The Marlborough Express; Stuff

Ref. Carol Stewart; Top of the South Island, New Zealand History; Facebook 23/1/2019

Image ref. Hamish Blanch; Facebook, ibid

Image ref. Minhinnick; NZ Herald 29/7/1960

Post syndicated from http://ahnz.anarkiwi.co.nz/1960-nelson-blenheim-railway/.