Massive Protest

OK, I’m being facetious. Good on the 600 people for turning out to the protest today, it was such a nice day for it – first sunshine in 10 days.

But to tell the truth I expected a lot more than .5% of the population of Dunedin to turn out. I was under the impression that this was a defining issue for the city of the likes we’ve never seen before. It’s also been in the media and public domain for nearly 2 years – it’s not as if people don’t know about this development.

So on the one hand I’m being completely dismissive of the piddly turnout, and on the other hand I’m massively relieved that not even 1% of the population could be bothered to turn out for the defining issue for Dunedin and Otago for the last 50 and possibly the next 50 years.

Come on folks, I was under the impression that there was a groundswell of massive public distrust. But .5% of the population on the first sunny and mildly warm Saturday in ages, doesn’t concern me at all. I’m glad that they got to protest and I’m glad for the guys there were 600 there. If the next (?) produces anywhere near 2000 people I’d start to think the public were interested.

Well done on the march, I hope it achieved what you wanted, I’m glad it was such a small turnout.

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18 Comments

Filed under Media, Stadiums

18 responses to “Massive Protest

  1. Peter

    Agreed Paul. In fact it’s not any better than numbers at previous protest marches. Where is the ground swell since Stop the Stadium was formed. Perhaps a membership update is in order. 360 odd at the time of the Burns Hall meeting … What’s that 0.25 of one per cent of Dunedin’s population? Democracy at work indeed!

  2. Don’t get me wrong, it is democracy at work, and pretty effectively too. There is freedom of the internet, there is freedom of association and movement, just that freedom isn’t shared.

    I have no doubt that there are more supporters of their cause than showed up today, but even if it was 10x it still would have only produced 6,000 or 5% of the population. Their concerns may be valid, their cause may be noble, but it’s just not shown that it’s supported by the people. I mean how much local media coverage have they been riding since their meeting. It’s all been positive stuff by them, they’ve had the people on the street, they’ve been on Channel 9, in the ODT and got the web site ramped up. As a result I seriously would have expected to see 2 or 3x the amount marching today if we were to believe their hype.

  3. Cheers for stopping by, it’s been a little one sided here recently (not that I mind too much).

  4. Peter Entwisle

    Ah well, here we go on a “you say, I say” discussion about numbers. Except we don’t need to be silly about it and you’ve given a sense of balance in your account Compie.

    Your number for the march is 600. National Radio’s at their 10.00 pm news round up was 1,500. Rick Boebel who was in the march estimated 8-10 people per row and 100-125 rows. Another guy Derek ? comparing it with the attendance at Syd Adie’s rally last year, which was put at 500, thought this was twice that. I was there and thought it was more than your 600 although National Radio’s estimate surprises me.

    The points I’d make are that a) numbers marching obviously don’t show all the people of that opinion; they are a sampling of the highly motivated; b) the most obvious point of comparison is Syd Adie’s march in 2007 – which I attended. It’s significant that although that was about 2 other projects as well as the stadium this one was more highly attended. You’d have to conclude this shows opposition has grown. c) No-one has ever marched for the stadium. You extrapolate from attentdance at the march that opposition can’t be very great because the numbers represent less than 1% of the city’s population. That’s not a very good argument because all you are looking at is a sampling of highly motivated opponents. If you applied your reasoning to the number of people who have marched for the stadium – 0 – you’d have to conclude no-one is for it, which is patently not true.

    I’d say a fair conclusion would be that opposition is significant and growing.

    As regards membership of StS mentioned by your poster above it’s about doubled since the public meeting. But here again absolute numbers are less significant than the relativities and the dynamism. StS numbers are growing very fast for an organisation of its type. There are mathematical considerations at work here and one shouldn’t take too much from it, but it’s certainly more bullish than some other similar organisations I’ve been associated with.

  5. Peter,

    I can only go with what was reported as I couldn’t make it. If the ODT reports 600, I say 600, who am I to disagree. If national radio said 1500, we’ve now got two figures to meet somewhere in the middle.

    So well done the 1000 odd whom marched, go democracy. If you say the numbers are growing, I’d want to see an exponential growth in numbers to suggest that this is the defining issue for Dunedin in the early 21st C.

    Final point. I don’t expect people to march in favour for it, unless you numbers start to swell and we’ll organise a counter protest. Until then, if people are happy with things they don’t protest. I can’t see a “welcome summer” protest.

    Cheers Peter.

  6. Peter Entwisle

    I don’t think this is a defining issue for Dunedin in the 21st century – or it won’t be if the stadium doesn’t go ahead. It’s people in favour of the stadium who are apt to claim it is. Some of them suggest if this is done the city will prosper and grow; if it doesn’t it will decline. As you know I think that’s worse than exaggerated and that in fact doing it would tend to have a negative effect on the city’s prospects.

    So if you thought it was so important why wouldn’t you organise a march in favour of it? Perhaps supporters aren’t aware of how tenuous the councils’ resolutions are. Or perhaps they really don’t care that much.

  7. Quote from your so called ten facts about the stadium.

    “We are told this Stadium will save our city: We say the opposite is true.”

    So if the opposite of save is to destroy, and if that isn’t the defining issue for Dunedin for the next 50 years what is?

    I tend to agree Peter, though in that you say “I don’t think this is a defining issue”.

  8. Peter Bradshaw

    I have no idea which side of the stadium debate the number of the anti-stadium marchers (whatever it actually was) supports or fails to support. For example (and with tongue slightly in cheek), it is conceivable that many people didn’t attend the march because, like me, they think there’s little chance of the stadium being built. As you would say, for many it may now be a `‘welcome Summer protest”. I have always thought the business case for the new stadium was weak, even though I think it’s a very attractive dream, but in my view what was once weak is shortly to become terminal. Reason? I believe that we and most of the rest of the world are facing a major and imminent economic upheaval due to a progressive failure to produce sufficient oil to meet demand and the escalating costs of extracting oil. Stadiums outside well-populated areas will die and those still on the drawing boards will remain there. Paul, you will not get your stadium (no tongue in cheek this time).

  9. Peter,

    sorry I and many other economic forecasters aren’t sharing your pessimism for the global economic outlook.

    Firstly, the recent price hikes haven’t been about supply and demand. They have been about a range of things, but most importantly market irregularities, including massive speculative trading and a weak US dollar. If they were about demand, the recent record profits by the major oil companies (the biggest in recorded corporate history) would not have been achieved. Simply they would have been selling higher priced oil at smaller volumes. But they haven’t, they’ve been selling record priced oil in record volumes and the speculative traders on the floors of the trading halls in NY have been having a field day.

    We’ve also been told by one in your camp alone that there is more oil and gas off the East Coast of the South Island than in the North Sea. Coupled with the vast and astounding potential of the likes of the Oil Sands (regardless of their evil environmental impact), the world is actually well heeled with oil for the foreseeable future.

    In fact many economic models which in the past haven’t been able to factor in variables like changing habits, bio fuels, hydrogen cell cars, hybrids etc, are all now re evaluating their assumptions in that these alone are changing the face of demand globally.

    If it was as simple as you suggest, instead of the price of oil falling and production increasing as we are now seeing, we would be seeing the opposite. For the economically viable lifetime of the stadium, the world economy will still be based upon stable oil supplies and prices.

    Just friday, the IMF revised upwards it’s Global economic outlook for growth of 4.1%, with Asia (our biggest and best trading potential) reaching 8.1%. Now that is healthy steady global economic news. Just because the western media is all naval gazing about the US economy, doesn’t mean that the rest of the world has to wallow in their mess. NZ in fact has been forecast to show signs of positive economic growth and other indicators as early as October.

    We just aren’t living in doom and gloom times, despite what many people at the meeting the other night were telling us. That classic comment by someone from the floor showed the dangers of living by what the man in the pub (or those idiots on talk back radio preach) with his “this isn’t the start of a recession, it’s the start of a depression”.

    No sorry, mate it’s not.

    Why is it just stadiums just outside well populated areas that will die. With that sort of logic, it’s educational institutions (Otago Uni), Businesses, indeed small cities themselves are at risk.

    I just don’t buy into this pessimism, and thankfully all of the serious economic indicators tend not to agree with you. I just don’t buy the argument that we can’t afford it because we are going to run out of oil. People will always have the need to watch and enjoy sport and be entertained. It’s been that way since before the Colosseum and will be that way post oil.

    And sorry Peter, the people of Otago will get their stadium.

  10. Peter Bradshaw

    Paul, this is your blog and a digression into a debate about oil resources and the world economy may not be something you want to see. I only raised the issue because I believe that the costs of transport and the disposable incomes of the punters seem to be important issues for the usage of the stadium project. Rising oil prices could also have significant impacts on the costs of construction. I am also concerned about the opportunity costs of the stadium, even if it broke even or eventually made a modest operating surplus. I think the proposed financial commitment to the stadium would be better spent on, for example, the development of mass transit systems and investment in a variety of different other ways of mitigating the potential impacts of rapidly escalating fuel costs. I would relish refuting every one of your assertions about oil and the global economy, but I am happy to back off if you think that this would end in your stadium blog being ‘hijacked’. Your call – I’ll respect what you decide.
    One thing, however, I do want to challenge. You refer to someone in my “camp”. I am not sure which camp you think I’m in, but whatever it is, I always willing to move my tent. I enjoy reading and researching issues. It’s one of my hobbies. Whenever I form an opinion on the basis of the available information, I continue to seek further information, particularly stuff that challenges my initial view, and I like debates for that reason. This can (and does) lead to me eventually changing my ideas and, if you like, joining another camp – for the time being!

  11. Peter,

    I agree, the world is getting more expensive to live in. For example it would be of great financial risk/cost if we were to engage in a Clyde Dam development here and now, but the point is we did it then and there. Things will always get more expensive, that is the very nature of capitalist development, without such leverage in the price of things, we would be facing stagflation, and the world economy would become very bleak.

    I also agree that mass transit would be very desirable, but it should have been done (like Vancouver) 25 years ago, or at the very least it should have been forecast for in the last 10 years of planning documents, but it hasn’t. If it wasn’t for the outstanding work of Michael Deaker at the ORC, bus transport in Dunedin would have been run into the ground.

    I will however take issue with this complete and utter doom and gloom around fuel costs. Because unlike the last great depression nearly some 80 years ago, the total world wealth and economy has grown to the point where, the likes of the Subprime debacle in the USA (who gives 100% mortgages to people who can not provide evidence they can pay it back – idiots that’s who), I will argue are only glitches. They may hurt people along the way, but just like more or less everything about science (Plate Tectonics was still 50 years away from being developed as a theory), world economic systems have come along way.

    BTW in real terms we are still paying less for our fuel now that when the oil shock of the 1970s kicked in, inflation and other factors adjusted.

    Peter to explain the current economic conditions experienced in some western economies (certainly not Canada, nor Asia), can not and should not be boiled down to the escalating price of fuel.

    Without descending this blog into a he said she said, I would really like to know how you describe the current massive fluctuations of the price of oil as anything other than a system failure on the market floors? It had very very little to do with supply and demand, that sort of analysis is just too limited. It accounted for none of the scares which resulted in massive hedge fund movements. For example the day it was announced that Israel was planning pre-emptive strikes on Iran, the price spiked by more than $5USD a barrel. That was on speculation and had nothing to do with actual supply failures and demand spikes. Like wise the first Hurricane of the season which looked like it was heading somewhere near America (they all do), resulted in another $4USD a barrel spike – little did it matter that that Hurricane actually fizzed out in the Caribbean. Then there was the mitigating factor of the weak US dollar as a result of the credit crunch because some banks in the US thought it wise to allow brokerage firms only to deal with mortgage seekers, whom were only too keen to give 100% mortgages to people whom were on sickness benefits and the like.

    But back to my point, in real terms we are paying still less in oil than we were in the 1970s oil crisis, and all current indicators aren’t actually suggesting $200 USD barrels of crude oil (which was always refuted out of Harvard), but instead there is a very real possibility that within 6 months we will be back under $100USD a barrel.

    Don’t get me wrong, despite what many may think, I am a raving Greenie and quite staunch Socialist, and I do believe in the theories of Peak Oil and the like. It’s just the time frame for such theories are constantly being readjusted and will continue to do so while we are finding more economically viable (not expensive) ways to extract greater and greater volumes of the stuff.

    What was never forecast with the great doom and gloom surrounding Peak Oil was the ability of humans to adapt to their surroundings. Further the will of western civilisation to maintain the economic status to which we have become accustomed to, means that we have now devised technologies that weren’t previously even conceived of (hydrogen fuel cells for instance), which will guarantee that the current economic model of growth based on the mass transit of surplus products to markets will continue for a long time to come.

    And again, I’ll point you to the latest economic indicators coming out of the IMF, that (putting the US aside) global growth for the next financial year has been revised up to 4.1%, and Asia to 8.1%.

    Back to the stadium, isn’t it forecast to make several million? The so called opportunity costs you talk about, would have needed to have been on the table (or at least blue sky stuff) for them to have been negated. I agree we need a better mass public transport plan – but there isn’t one there.

    These are arguments however neither of us will come to some meet on though, as the StS argue that the stadium will cost possibly twice as much, while others suggest it could be done within budget. One expert says this another says that. However some experts opinions need to be taken with a pinch of salt. Take Dr Hamlin who ascertains that the stadium’s capacity is now less than 20,000 (where did that come from goodness only knows), and that Twickenham was a single use stadium (and it isn’t), among the other incredible false claims and half truths put out as opposition to this development.

  12. Peter,

    for a detailed long term futures forecast of oil see this link from the NYMEX for light sweet crude (the main traded oil).

    http://www.nymex.com/lsco_fut_psf.aspx

    You’ll see that in 2012 they think the price will dip as low as $119USD barrel. Overnight the price fell $5USD a barrel (and although the Kiwi is slipping against the US), thus we could expect to see 91 petrol under $1.99 a litre in the very near future.

    It’s hardly the rapid out of control oil inflation as prescribed my some only as recently as June.

  13. Peter Bradshaw

    Paul, I’m just about to don my thermal underwear again and return to Dunedin. I look forward to replying when I get back.

  14. Peter Entwisle

    Paul, you said:

    ‘Quote from your so called ten facts about the stadium.

    “We are told this Stadium will save our city: We say the opposite is true.”

    So if the opposite of save is to destroy, and if that isn’t the defining issue for Dunedin for the next 50 years what is?

    I tend to agree Peter, though in that you say “I don’t think this is a defining issue”.’

    We’re talking about a hypothetical here: if the stadium went ahead that would be a calamity for Dunedin and would negatively affect the city’s life for a long time, indeed perhaps 50 years. However I don’t think it will go ahead so I don’t think it will have that effect. Ergo I don’t think it is the defining issue for the next 50 years. If I’m right it won’t be. Of course, I could be wrong.

    There is no conflict here with any of StS’s ten facts.

  15. Peter Entwisle

    Paul, I’m nearer to you than Peter Bradshaw about the prospects for the world economy. I disagree about some of your specifics, for instance that recent oil price hikes have been about a range of things “including massive speculation”. The speculators have been buying bets, options to buy oil at certain times at certain prices, not oil, and their efforts have had squat effect on prices as a result. But I agree we are not now looking at “peak oil” and that alternatives will be developed which will mean the last drop in the ground will never be squeezed out of it. Instead we’ll move to other resources and massive amounts of oil will still be in the earth’s crust 100 years from now.

    I also agree that conditions now are not like those in 1929 and that present recessions in the US and NZ are not about to turn into a depression as suggested by the speaker at the StS public meeting. And, like Peter Bradshaw, I’d point out, you are talking about people opposed to the stadium as a “camp” but in fact they hold widely varying views on other issues and in economics and politics range from the far right to the far left with all shades in between.

    You are seriously mistaken when you suggest the views of one stadium opponent on matters other than the undesirability of the public funded Awatea Street stadium project, are those of all. They just aren’t.

    In my view the relevance of the present state of the economy to the stadium issue is just that, for the first time in a long time – all of my life – the economic outlook is much more uncertain. For example, it is difficult to know what will happen to transport in the medium term. We may continue to use private vehicles, fuelled on something else, or we may resort to a greater use of public transport. Also the rapid expansion of air travel in recent years may slow or decline. One can no longer be reasonably sure that the status quo of steady growth in these things will just continue. It means predicting things like the future of tourism and the use of stadia is harder. Some possible negatives have to be allowed for which wouldn’t have applied 30 or even 10 years ago.

    (“The Economist” 21-27 June 2008 carried a good special report ‘The Future of Energy'” which covers some of these things. I believe it’s available at http://www.economist.com – otherwise there are print copies at the public library.)

    You are also mistaken in your beliefs about the stadium’s forecast earnings. You say “Back to the stadium, isn’t it forecast to make several million?” No, it isn’t.

    The CST’s initial forecasts, outside the cost of servicing the loans needed to build it, was about $535,000 p.a. After the peer review critiqued this they lowered it to $526,000 p.a. and then again to the figure presented to the city on March 17th which is $300,000 p.a. for 16 years. The peer reviews and the city’s own risk analysis have pointed to the marginality of this and its dependence on estimates of use which are doubtful and if only slightly under-realised will turn this modest surplus into a minus. (This is in the peer reviews but also in the DCC Staff Report 17/3/2008 “Proposed Stadium at Awatea Street”. You can get it off the city’s website. The bits above including the figures are on p.13 in sections 5.10.10, 5.10.11, 5.10.12.)

    Apart from this there are debt servicing costs of $10m p.a. which will be borne not by the operating entity, Otago Venues Limited (OVL), but by another body called Council Controlled Trading Organisations (CCTO) which will be 100% owned by the Dunedin City Council. There are some other continuing expenses too, to do with depreciation and costs of further borrowing only apparent since the report was written. But at the time the city considered the matter and voted to conditionally proceed with it, on the figures above the stadium was expected to operate at a net annual loss to the citizens of $9.7m. (The info about the debt servicing cost is at p.6 para 5.9.3.)

    This is very, very different from your belief that it is “forecast to make several millions”. With respect, if one is going to argue for or against the stadium, it is necessary to familiarise oneself with the available figures in order to take any meaningful part in the debate. And, however you look at it, this is not only a very expensive facility for the city to build, it will be a very heavy burden on the citizens when it is operating, even on the CST’s expectations.

    I won’t here belabour you with other stuff about the extent of the city’s income, its assets and debts and its other commitments – collectively the depth of its pockets – but they are limited and this project will strain them. In talking about governments, whether national or even local, most people have little idea of the real extent of the funds available to them and a sense they have limitless resources. Compared to most people and many firms the DCC has extensive assets and a large income. But its assets and income aren’t limitless and this project will strain them – even on estimates which have been described by the peer reviewers as “not… conservative”. (DCC staff report 17/3/08 p.13 para 5.10.10.)

    This is enough for one post. No doubt you get my drift.

  16. “for the first time in a long time – all of my life – the economic outlook is much more uncertain. ”

    I would disagree entirely. For the the last 6 years I have never been more confident of secured global economic conditions.

    The “city’s income, its assets and debts and its other commitments – collectively the depth of its pockets – but they are limited and this project will strain them.”

    This is the nub of your objection against the stadium, and that is very valid. I however tend to disagree.

  17. Peter Entwisle

    I’d suggest looking at that Economist article. The magazine is far from doom laden about general economic prospects but the article draws on a lot of expertise and the grounds for thinking the medium term future is uncertain – not the same as heading to hell in a handcart – are pretty clear.

    I don’t know how much time you’ve spent studying the city’s income and assets but its chief of finance, Athol Stephens, has pointed to the stresses the Awatea Street project will create. The Davis Langdon peer review, which incorporates one from Pricewaterhousecoopers, expressed deep reservations about the costings of the construction; the fragility and optimism of the revenue projections; the absence of allowance for other losses to the city beyond the projected $9.7m p.a.; and the failure of the CST to provide a risk management report which it said was essential to being comfortable about “the deliverability and affordability of the project”. That document is available on the DCC website – also through the link from the StS in the section “Submissions and Reports” where it’s numbered 6,7,8,9. (9 has most of the essential stuff.)

    “Submissions and Reports” may just now be being renamed.

  18. The pro-stadium crowd didn’t need to organise a counter-protest. They could simply have turned up on the day to jeer and boo the protesters as they marched through town. That’s what you do when you oppose a protest march.

    I was near the tail of the Stop the Stadium march, and the counter-protestors would have had had plenty of time to get into full swing. The two pro-stadium voices on the sidelines had pretty much run out of confidence by the time I marched by. They’d already been laughed at by 700 people by then. So, there really was no counter-protest. I was insulted. Is that the best the pro-stadium crowd can muster?

    Perhaps we’ll see an exponential increase in counter-protesters next time, as the true level of support for the stadium becomes evident. Put on your bike-helmets and great-coats, folks! We may be facing the wrath of four opponents the next time we attempt to take over central Dunedin. :-)

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