RE-BLOG TRANSPORTING WELLINGTON: What does Justin Lester really stand for?


It’s great to hear Labour candidate Justin Lester launching his campaign with good ol’ fashioned pork barrelling. In fact, you can view a pretty slick campaign video done by his campaign team. Or read his speech for his campaign launch.

However, lets peel back below the surface and see what he might bring for us Wellingtonians. Will he be touting his Labour values or will he turn out to be Celia II?

A quick Google search yielded the following results.

This was from 2013.

We talk, for example, about being open for business, but you still can’t submit a building consent on-line.

We have some excellent cycling proposals. But there’s currently no funding to roll them out.

We need more people coming here to invest, work, live and spend. To help encourage this I’ll be focusing on the following:

  • Creating a city cycling network by doubling our investment in cycling. We have lots of excellent cycling initiatives proposed, I want to see them put in place.


This was said by Justin Lester on Newstalk ZB after the Island Bay Cycleway was approved. Joyous he was about supporting Celia Wade-Brown ramming through the controversial Island Bay “cycleway to nowhere.”

Tim Fookes: Tell me why you decided to throw your support behind the cycleway?

Justin Lester: I think its a good thing to do in a modern, progressive city, and if Wellington doesn’t, I think its going to fall behind. In Christchurch just yesterday, they struck off on a framework for better cycling… If Wellington doesn’t do it we’d fall behind nationally. We’d fall well behind internationally because we are already behind the eight ball.

So Justin Lester supports building a kerbside cycleway in Island Bay just because other cities are building cycleways. If other cities are defaulting on their loans, does this mean Justin Lester will do the same?

Gee, he must think cycleways are an indicator for economic growth!


For the Island Bay cycleway: Mayor Celia Wade-Brown, Justin Lester, Andy Foster, Sarah Free, David Lee, Iona Pannett, Mark Peck, Malcolm Sparrow


When Justin Lester announced he was going to stand as a mayoral candidate, he and Celia Wade-Brown were backslapping each other 

It’s important that one of us gets elected rather than someone else who doesn’t have a similar vision for the city,” he said.

“I’ll be focused on my campaign and she will be focused on hers. I won’t be criticising her.

Lester and Wade-Brown said they would give each other their number two votes.

“There are some things, like the airport extension, film museum … urban cycleways, refugee welcome and so on, that have been kicked off and need to be finished,” Wade-Brown said.

“I’m not convinced that the other announced candidates could do really well across all of those initiatives. I’m keen to see those through, but he would be my number two vote.”


It’s not surprising many people think Justin Lester is a member of the Green Party despite running under a Labour ticket. [Ed: Please note that Celia hasn’t been a member of the Green Party for a long time now and that the Greens officially oppose the runway extension!]

Justin Lester does not care about the views of the community. Despite attending a Guardians of the Bays meeting regarding the runway extension, Justin Lester accuses opponents of the runway extension of doing Air New Zealand’s bidding and being anti-Wellington. Great. I’m anti-Wellington because I think Infratil should really commit to paying their fair share of the runway extension before it goes ahead. Cheers Justin.

With the cozy relationship between Celia and Justin, we may see Celia bow out of the race and endorse Justin Lester.

The grapevine suggests , panicked by Nick Leggett’s rumoured entry into the race, is lining up to reveal ’s endorsement, possibly at his formal launch as Labour’s Wellington Mayoral candidate due in the coming days.  To date, Wade-Brown has indicated she intends to seek re-election, although it has long been rumoured she will bolt from the race to give her loyal deputy mayor a shot at the job.  

Is the formal passing of the baton between Labour and the Greens in Wellington the kind of job-sharing Grant Robertson envisages as the “future of work”?  Problem is, polls show Celia is deeply unpopular –– many consider the notorious Island Bay cycleway the death-knell of her political career – and Lester is barely known by Wellington voters, and not especially admired among those who know him.  If it turns out that the first thing voters hear about Justin Lester is that he’s Celia’s “chosen one”, it’s hard to see how it helps.  He’s already being dismissed in the business community as “Justin Lester-Brown”, and a public pat on the back won’t do anything to downplay his association with an increasingly toxic incumbent.   And let’s not forget, Labour came a dismal third throughout Wellington at the last election, and the decision to field a Labour-endorsed candidate is exactly what Oscar Wilde had in mind when he talked of the “triumph of hope over experience”.

As an Anti Wellingtonian, I believe Mr Lester has to try harder to show he’s not going to be Celia II.

Edit – Despite the Labour Party having a “Vote Positive” as their election campaign slogan in 2014, I think what Labour MP Trevor Mallard had tweeted is not wanted nor needed. Perhaps “Vote Nasty” is a better reflection of Justin Lester and his party.

Trevor Mallard tweet
Trevor Mallard tweet