Satire: Kāpiti Promised Free Power

Opinion: Aristophanes

The following piece of well-timed satire appeared this week in the news site

In a surprise announcement, condemned by Phil Goff, leader of the Opposition as an electioneering bribe, the Prime Minister today released part of National’s energy policy and promised free lighting for the foreseeable future for the residents of Kāpiti. “Those who live within a kilometre of the new Expressway will receive free lighting”, he announced. “This is a fine example of what we mean by Building a Brighter Future.”

An NZTA spokesperson confirmed that recent modelling had indicated that the lights on the new Expressway would be sufficiently strong to free householders within a kilometre of either side of the road (and in some cases further) the need to have their own lighting. “Our studies show that even on the darkest night it will be possible to read with ease and without cost. This will be of enormous benefit to those who are unable to sleep, a group which we expect to expand rapidly in the next few years.”

Treasury noted that the benefits to the residents were likely to be considerable and they were considering whether tax at the unearned income rate might be payable. Shares in energy companies dropped dramatically on the news but rallied later after Nathan Guy , MP for the area, had noted that he, and other farmers, were in negotiations with NZTA to purchase surplus NZTA land by the Expressway. He noted that with 24 hr daylight ,cows would be able to see what they were eating and productivity should increase markedly. He expected to milking three or four times every 24 hours and that prospect boosted confidence in electricity generation company shares.

Phil Goff confirmed that he was seeking legal advice before referring the matter to the Electoral Commission. “This is nothing short of a gigantic bribe, he said. Show me the money that this is coming from”. A Green party spokesperson challenged the SPCA to consider the cows, and sought assurances on pollution of waterways in the area. She also queried the effect of 24hrs daylight on whitebait in the Waimea stream since it would now be possible to set nets without time limit.

Air New Zealand praised the courage of the Prime Minister in making the announcement. A spokesperson noted that as they now had experience of the area through their flights into Parparaumu airport, a quick calculation had assured them that in the event of fog or other mishap closing Auckland airport, there would be plenty of lighting and room to land a series of 747s on the flyover at Te Moana Road in Wakanae. The spokesperson was not clear whether it would also be sufficient for an Airbus 380.

Nathan Guy welcomed the move saying it was the economic boost that Kāpiti had long needed. It would provide plenty of jobs for out-of -work motorway lamp cleaners. He had supported the proposal strongly throughout and, he said, it was one of the reasons he had eventually rejected the two lane highway scheme proposed by the Kāpiti Coast District Council, whose completion had been his main election promise in the 2008 election. The news last week that the expressway embankment could act as a massive dam that would block the drainage of ground water from the hills to the sea also brought a lot of comment.

KCDC warned householders that any new garden ponds appearing would need to be fenced. It said that in a ‘best case’ scenario, the damming effect would create a substantial lake that could be used to augment the water supply. Many residents welcomed this prospect, as they anticipated that it would obviate the need for the costly proposal to install water meters to curb water use.

Stephen Joyce was reported to be sympathetic to the plight of those whose houses might be inundated. He likened the project to making an omelette; neither could be made without breaking a few eggs. He stated that the new lake would add to economic growth in the region, as it could be developed into a water sports facility of national significance.

Nathan Guy said the project was bound to create a small number of losers, but he would do all he could to support them through the experience. He hoped that the people affected could begin new lives on houseboats moored round the lake.

The NZTA was quick to point out that such households would not be “affected persons” under the Public Works Act, and so would not be able to claim compensation.

A usually reliable source said that this was just as well, as the agency would need the money to build canals to replace roads in some parts of the Kāpiti Coast. It was reportedly “excited” at the prospect of adding canal-building to its transport infrastructure portfolio. John Key, as tourism minister, said that he had always thought the expressway would generate growth, and he could now foresee the Kāpiti area rivalling the Gold Coast as a tourist destination in the years to come.