Why is enthusiasm enough?

14 April, 2015

The Editor, The Wellingtonian

Dear Editor;

Given that there has been no cost benefit analysis done for the proposed airport runway extension, along with the silence from the Wellington City Council and the Airport about doing one, their enthusiasm for the runway extension seems to be based primarily on – their enthusiasm!

This is reminiscent of the now classic case of Enron, a prominent energy company in California in the late nineties.  Despite quiet concern about dodgy investments, the ratings agencies loved Enron executive’s joyous opinion of their prospects and kept assigning top ratings even until a week before Enron suddenly collapsed.

In New Zealand the case of Pike River Coal is apropos.  Even with many missed coal production dates, and knowledge of unimplemented or non existent safety plans, executives of Pike River showed continuing optimism until one day disaster struck.

Has reliance on ‘enthusiasm’ become the norm when fundamentals are on the line?  Electric power in nineties California?  Coal (fossil fuel) mining in New Zealand?  The Airport Master Plan in Wellington has probably been the City Council’s main source of inspiration this century.  Must planners and politicians insist that enthusiasm be the main criteria in evaluating this course of action as well?


Richard Keller

published 16/04/2015


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