Did Labour just make its transport policy up on Monday night after a bottle of chardonnay?

I’m flabbergasted. I really am. Labour has been on the attack on housing issues, with some success. National are feeling defensive on that – defensive enough that John Key went so far as to challenge David Cunliffe to a debate on the issue (more on that in a separate post).

So what does Mr Cunliffe do to continue the attack? Well, he certainly didn’t talk about housing, and if he did, we’ll never know because it certainly didn’t get reported. Instead, Cunliffe decides to announce a policy banning trucks from using the third or fourth lanes on three or four lane motorways. But wait, there’s more! Labour will also cut registration fees for trailers and caravans, and would reduce road user charges for motorhomes!

The general consensus of the random voters interviewed last night on 3 News was that it was a somewhat underwhelming policy. Worse, it opened Labour up to National’s immediate lines of attack, with Gerry Brownlee asking where the additional revenue would come from to complete existing and planned roading projects, and pointing out that drivers of motorhomes would in fact be charged more under Labour’s proposed system.

Here’s some advice for Labour. The media will not focus on every single policy you talk about. They will pick one, leaving the rest to languish in obscurity. If you are attacking National on housing policy, wait until the story is dying away before you announce your next policy.

The problem is that the above advice is not exactly rocket science. It’s Media Management 101. Something is going horribly wrong in the Labour Leader’s Office for this policy to have got airtime this week. Labour needs to work out what its message is for the week, then stick to that message. Jumping around from policy to policy – the scattergun approach – will not help the party’s polling.


UPDATE: The New Zealand Transport Agency has confirmed that Labour’s ban on trucks using the third or fourth lanes on three or four lane highways would apply to just 68 km of NZ roads – approximately 0.7% of the total network. It’s definitely Big Picture stuff from Labour!




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