Back to the Drawing Board

The Southland Times editorial has picked up what Labour has so far failed to…that their election campaign using illegal stop sign facsimiles has failed.

It was inevitable, of course. The only real surprise is that it has taken almost three weeks for Labour’s latest attention-grabbing bid to crash and burn.The “Stop asset sales vote Labour” campaign, launched in Auckland on April 4, effectively died of scornful, mocking laughter on Thursday. It should not be lamented, even by the most ardent of Labour supporters.

In itself, there was nothing wrong with the concept and a great deal to recommend it. National’s publicly announced plans to begin selling off state assets if (when) it wins the next general election have found so little favour with the electorate that even prominent business leaders have voiced their opposition.

Handled with skill, finesse and a little luck Labour’s campaign could have been, if not a winner, at least a long poll with which to poke the borax. It could even have become long enough to lever the party back up the popularity ladder. Few will look back with favour on the raft of sales of some of our most valuable state assets in the 80s and 90s by successive Labour and National governments.

So the concept was good. The only parts missing were the skill, finesse and luck.

And that scornful, mocking laughter was very loud at my place.

Whoever came up with the concept of plastering the message on imitation road stop signs should be led away to a disused shed out the back somewhere, put under 24-hour guard and released only after the next general election is over.

Whoever then came up with the idea of selling these signs to the party faithful at $10 a pop should be made to share the shed.

But a desert island, a really remote desert island, should be reserved for the genius who came up with the idea of putting the signs, signs with the same shape and colouring of real road stop signs, along the median strip of a road in the Hutt Valley this week.

And Labour still thinks everything is fine with their campaign and they will continue to run their Ponzi scheme. Sue Moroney was even skiting on Facebook about her illegal sign activities in Hamilton long after the issue was highlighted for all to see.

The Land Transport Safety Authority takes a dim view of any roadside signs that could distract drivers. The regulations are pretty clear: “A person must not install on a road, or in or on a place visible from a road, a sign, device or object that is not a traffic control device, but that may be mistaken for a traffic control device.”

You’d think that even if someone was a sheep short in the top paddock he or she would realise that slapping big stop signs along a busy road might have caused a few problems for motorists, but no.

Up they went. And within an hour, down they came again, courtesy of the Hutt City Council, responsible for controlling the roads in the area. The signs, the council noted in a press release, did not meet any road signage requirements and following a complaint from the public they were removed.

Labour still insists that every thing is ok and they are #winning. Unfortunately, no matter how hard they spin the facts the law is the law and their signs are illegal and can’t be displayed.

Unfortunately, the Labour Party still didn’t get it. General secretary Chris Flatt huffed that it was all a dastardly plot by National Party bloggers and right-wing groups to ruin the campaign. “Any reasonable person would see that the nature of the writing and the `vote Labour’ on there indicates they’re not traffic control devices,” he insisted, and vowed party supporters would continue using the signs, though they had been told to be more cautious near roads.

We have some advice for Mr Flatt: throw the signs in the shed, or ship them off to the island. Consult Marketing, 101. Get rid of the negative Stop the asset sales. Be positive. Try something like Save our assets. On a sign that does not look like a road stop sign, or a give way, or even a pedestrian crossing. Do not erect the new signs anywhere near roads. Let’s try to keep the road toll down.

Perhaps some Labour MPs are getting it, they have started removing the avatar from their Facebook profiles, although their transport safety spokesperson was a little slow to grasp the problem for her. She still has the sign in her profile pictures though making her position on anything remotely connected with road safety somewhat tenuous. Especially when there is a photo of her standing ON a road waving an illegal sign.

Darien Fenton - Labour road safety spokesperson breaking the law

Annette King is a former transport Minister, you would think she would get it? Nope, not likely:

Annette King, former transport Minister ignores road safety

Andrew Geddis keeps pointing out Labour’s folly:

April 22, 2011 at 5:40 pm

As someone who has commented on this issue elsewhere, I thought I’d chip in my 2 cents worth on the legal niceties of all this …(1) The question of authorisation was a misdirect by me, based on low-resolution photos of the signs. I’ve retracted and apologised over at Pundit.(2) The Electoral (Advertisements of a Specified Kind) Regulations 2005, Reg 5 (raised by Cameron Slater above) isn’t directly relevant … this only applies in the 2 months prior to an election. What it does show, however, is that even during the height of election season political expression has to play second fiddle to road safety issues.(3) The question of using these signs around roadways is not simply “would a ‘reasonable person’ really think it is a stop sign?” There’s also an importance in keeping the shape/colour of road signs “pure”, in that when people see a red octagon on the roadside they aren’t having to conciously think “is that really a stop sign, or just someone using the shape and colour for a different purpose?” Instead, you want an instinctive reaction … red octagon, must stop”. So the rule may be over-protective, in that it stops some signs that most people wouldn’t really think are proper stop signs so as to ensure the distinctive nature of such signs remains.Some thoughts, anyway.

There are none so blind as those that will not see.



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  • Trevor Mallard

    Was worried you had given up. The way you are going you will need a Labour promotion statement. Donations go to :-

    • thor42

      ….. and insults go to

    • Tried to donate but it rejected me. Seems you don’t want my $0.01.

    • Trevor I’d like your opinion of your Transport Safety spokesperson standing on a road with an illegal stop sign. What does this say about labour’s commitment to road safety?

    • grizz

      Trevor, just take your foot out of your mouth….sorry your arse. Only shit comes out of your mouth.

      • axeman

        Whatever happened to DNFTT?
        Seems obvious that the Sensitive Little Daffodil is pretty certain of rolling Phil-in at the December BBQ. With Mallard thinks that by standing up to the VRWC he will show the rest of Liarbore that he is the eunuch who got his cajones back.
        However what will happen is the Nats election campaign will massively highlight their hypocrisy around state asset sales and poor old Trev will be discredited.

  • hagues

    So Trev still not worried about the blatant hypocrisy of deleting posts that mention other parties on your own site but going on other people’s sites and linking to your own party? I guess desperate times call for desperate measures.

  • adolffiinkensein

    Judging by the fat arses on those Labour Party activists it doesn’t look like any of them have been living on cockroaches.

    Mallard would have been better employed mounting a ‘no eating for a month’ campaign aimed at his own dwindling membership.

  • kevin

    ‘L’ for losers… w h a t a j o k e they are

  • reid

    There’s also an impor­tance in keep­ing the shape/colour of road signs “pure”, in that when peo­ple see a red octa­gon on the road­side they aren’t hav­ing to con­ciously think “is that really a stop sign, or just some­one using the shape and colour for a dif­fer­ent pur­pose?” Instead, you want an instinc­tive reac­tion … red octa­gon, must stop”.

    As I said the night this broke. Colour and shape recognition is the issue.

    So if me and Andrew Geddis can work it out how come none of the Liarbore caucus could? Let alone all the other high-powered eyes and minds which perused and explored this exciting new campaign idea.


  • norm

    I drove past those signs in Lower Hutt, and there’s no way that any sensible person could’ve mistaken them for stop signs. There must’ve been at least 8-10 of them, and they were about 2-3 feet high at most. So unless that median strip is used by midgets in pedal cars, I don’t know how anyone could seriously consider them to be a road safety hazard.

    • reid

      Not the point, norm.

      The point is mate, lots of foreign drivers here for the world cup, who don’t know of the campaign. Shape recognition and colour recognition is what international traffic sign recognition relies on cause words are useless if you don’t speak the language, and many won’t, during the RWC.

      So the danger is not inadvertantly braking at a fake sign, it’s inadvertantly failing to brake at a real sign, with consequences up to multiple fatalities.

      This is what Liarbore proposed to unleash upon us with their mental campaign. That is the issue and if you defend this campaign in any way, then you are defending potential manslaughter allegations and if you’re a political party, is that a good thing, or a bad thing?

  • jabba

    bloody hell .. went to Trevs link and it says “supporting Labour is easy” .. really?

  • thor42

    What amazes me is that Labour *just don’t learn*.
    They tried to blunder their way out of Clark’s signing that artwork and the rocket-speed motorcade incident.
    If Labour simply fessed up and said “ok, fair cop, we got it wrong”, then that approach would stand out like a beacon.
    Instead, they continue to behave like the arrogant, lying pricks that they are.

    • reid

      Yeah but in fairness thor42 while Liarbore should indeed fess up, whatever can they say to explain themselves?


      How do you explain yourself out of this, if you’re the govt in waiting, with the need not desire but actual requirement to project with utter fidelity the indisputable fact you are competent, trust-worthy and generally, just a totally safe pair of hands?

      How do you explain to the swinging voters who are your target market, that you still know what you are doing, after all of this?

  • cadwallader

    Congratulations to the Southland Times. It is truly reassuring to note that NZ’s most distant daily can portray the irresponsibility of Labour so accurately.
    I take the point too, that the presence of these road signs is nothing more than disorderly conduct. Prosecute these losers!