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Key, Brownlee: Not Auckland’s friends

Written By: - Date published: 9:26 am, July 1st, 2013 - 41 comments
Categories: accountability, auckland supercity, Gerry Brownlee, infrastructure, john key, labour, national/act government, privatisation, Privatisation, public transport, quality of life, sustainability - Tags:

There was a big fanfare about John Key’s u-turn embrace of the Auckland City Rail Link.  But, as usual with dear leader, it was all smoke, mirrors and sleight of hand stealth of the common good.

The construction of the Central Rail Link is so far in the future, Key will be long gone and won’t have to account for its funding; there’s more immediate funding and planning going into to work on the road system; and now the pressure starts for Auckland to sell its assets (first on the block most likely the Ports of Auckland).  I urge Len Brown to hold his ground on this:

Auckland Council wants to fund its half of the project through rates rises, road charges or a combination of both, but Mayor Len Brown has ruled out selling shares in Auckland Airport and Ports of Auckland.

And I urge Phil Twyford to stay focused and to keep exposing the distortions, diversions and anti-democratic maneuverings of Key and his ministers.  Last Thursday Twyford stated,

It will take more than a U-turn on the City Rail Link to turn around the Key Government’s difficult relationship with Auckland, says Labour’s Auckland Issues spokesperson Phil Twyford.

[…]

“This survey also highlights the fact that the majority of Aucklanders  don’t believe the Government listens to them, nor do they trust it.

“The Government’s adoption of Labour’s policy on the City Rail Link was a final capitulation to common sense after three years of obstructing and denigrating Mayor Len Brown’s flagship project.

“The survey results indicate there is clearly something rotten in the Government’s relationship with Auckland.

I hope Twyford gives the government’s transport package the sort of examination that is being done on The Auckland Transport Blog (ATB).

Like Twyford they welcome the government u-turn, but posters on the ATB are far from impressed.   Matt L looks at “the good, the bad and the ugly” of the “transport package”; welcomes the U-turn on the CRL, but is less than happy with some of the planned road projects. For instance, Matt looks at the planned the AMETI/East-West Link project, that is

 a series of projects between Panmure and Botany – most crucially including a full busway from Botany to Pakuranga and onto Panmure.

Matt sums up this project, thus,

For this reason the East West Link actually reminds me quite a lot of the Puhoi to Wellsford project. In both cases there’s a definite problem that needs to be solved but in both cases smaller scale improvements that may deliver really significant benefits are being completely ignored in favour of massively expensive and destructive motorway options – seemingly for political reasons only.

And following detailed and informative analysis, with helpful graphs and images, he ends the post with this:

Overall, as I said at the start of the post there are useful bits of the announcements (CRL aside which is obviously a massive positive) in that we might see a Northern busway extension and an AMETI busway happen faster now. But there’s also a whole heaps of “over the top” projects which are pretty unlikely to achieve lasting benefits or could be replaced by far far cheaper projects which would deliver most of the benefits at a fraction of the price.

Patrick Reynold’s post today on the ATB focuses on the funding implications. Patrick begins by outlining the scope of Auckland Transport’s Integrated Transport Plan (linked to the councils, Auckland Plan), which the government now supports.  He argues that the ITP (Integrated Transport Plan) is total “rubbish”, with the result being that,

even with the eye-watering price tag of $60+ billion the transport network’s performance gets considerably worse over the next 30 years.

The underlying reason he gives for this is that most of the funding goes to road projects.  He graphically argues that the result will be:

  • more congestion
  • an increase in Greenhouse Gas emissions 
  • little increase in use of public transport to the CBD at peak times
  • little increase in “non-car modeshare during the AM peak period across the city”

Patrick argues that under-funding public transport and related infrastructure will have negative impacts: the costs of traveling on public transport will be higher than the cost of driving, public transport journeys will take too long, and too many jobs will not be within a 60 minute public transport journey.

He finishes the post stating that over the nest few weeks “we” are going to present an alternative, environmentally-friendly plan for Auckland transport, called the Congestion Free Network.  It will cost around the same as the government’s transport package and the ITP, but will have “superior outcomes”.

Key’s Auckland Transport “U-turn” is just a new slippery strategy for over-riding Auckland democracy, selling assets, and controlling the city for the road-loving, asset stripping, profiteering 2%.  And as Anthony Robbins said:

SHOW US THE MONEY!

And on top of that, show us a plan that will use the money effectively to provide a comprehensive transport system and related infrastructure: a system that works for the good of all Aucklanders and the environment we all live in; and without selling the assets that benefit us all, for the enrichment of the 2%.

41 comments on “Key, Brownlee: Not Auckland’s friends”

  1. Wayne 1

    Ah well Karol, this is a good Green approach to Auckland transport, but how influential will the Greens be?

    I wonder where Labour stands on the roading projects? I would be surprised if Phil Twyford signs up to Patrick Reynold’s analysis of the Auckland Transport ITP.

    With so much political capital now invested in the ITP by Mayor Len and the Govt, it looks pretty much unstoppable. Maybe a little bit of change around the edges, and on timing, but that would be all.

    It would certainly be a big call for Phil Twyford (as opposed to the Greens) to back the alternative “Congestion Free Network” as opposed to the ITP.

    And in any event, is a “Congestion Free Network” a believable promise? You had better think of a more salelable title!

    • North 1.1

      What you’re really saying Wayne Boy is this:

      “Hahaha……..my old boss has stolen a march. He’s got them Catch 22…….they’re buggered whether they do or they don’t. All going according to plan. Hahaha !”

    • lprent 1.2

      The basic problem is that almost all of the transport funding for Auckland is going into roading in an area that is already congested. Problem with putting in new roads is that merely having them means that within a few years they will fill with private cars running with a single driver to beyond capacity.

      Whereas putting in an effective public transport system pulls private cars off the road, reduces or constrains congestion, and means that the major investment in roads including all of the pain of building the frigging things (a cause of congestion in its own right) is removed.

      That isn’t a ‘green’ position – that is a statement of observed fact visible in every city that has congestion problems. You can observe it quite clearly in the traffic numbers going over the Harbour Bridge right outside my door at work. The opening of northern busway stopped the rise in congestion and the reduced the numbers of instances of massive car park on the bridge that happened every other day when I was last travelling in a car over the bridge.

      So yeah, Phil Twyford and every other Auckland Labour MP will be getting the message from me that I’m going to be very unhappy if they fall for this silly deferral play from National. All it does is to cause the required public transport upgrades we need to be deferred for most of a decade and wastes money on roading that will not come close to solving the actual transport issues. What it looks like is another subsidy to the truckers and road construction industry.

      • lprent 1.2.1

        I see that I forgot the most important point in there whilst doing the polemic.

        It isn’t about “green” issues. It is about being able to get to work without it taking hours or costing a bomb.

        Roads aren’t going to help as every Aucklander not wedded to their cars is now aware. The public transport has been steadily inching towards an improvement over the last decade and a half. Even those who literally work on the other side of the city (a friend of mine is currently living in Owera and works in Onehunga – lousy for PT commutes) would prefer to have fewer other people on the roads and in buses or trains during the rush hours.

        Exactly why National is committed to putting in more roads in Auckland is a interesting question. Perhaps you can explain their religious obsession with it? Personally I’ve always put it down to a bankroll issue for the party.

        • Rob 1.2.1.1

          Its not only people that require transport. There is a huge issue of getting raw materials and finished products in and out of businesses. If you consider that requirement that underpins a successful manufacturing environment then you will start considering other requirements outside the CRL. Its amazing that the left can hold seminars on how to boost manufacturing but do not once start to even consider the blindingly obvious issue of material logistics.

          • karol 1.2.1.1.1

            Rob: Its not only people that require transport. There is a huge issue of getting raw materials and finished products in and out of businesses. […] Its amazing that the left can hold seminars on how to boost manufacturing but do not once start to even consider the blindingly obvious issue of material logistics.

            Says who? Please do some research before you make claims about what the left is or isn’t considering.

            Green MP, Julie Anne Genter, from her post on The Daily Blog, 18 June 2013, about the proposed light rail for Wellington:

            We haven’t had the option of comparing the motorway against a real alternative. What needs to be investigated is the eminently reasonable option of safety and maintenance improvements to the existing roads in the region and investment in high quality public transport options like light rail and increased commuter trains, which move more people at peak and free up the existing roads for freight and those who drive. – See more at: http://thedailyblog.co.nz/2013/06/18/trainspotting-with-julie-anne-genter-light-rail-for-wellington/#sthash.LSoU1Tjj.dpuf

            Julie Anne Genter, during Question for Oral Answer to Bill English, on Auckland’s Transport, 16 April 2013:

            Julie Anne Genter: Given that road users and freight will benefit most from the city rail link according to all the numerous studies that have been done on this project, because it is the best option to reduce congestion, why will his Government not make it a priority, instead of its election promises to the provinces?

            Bill replied it wasn’t a government priority but discussions were continuing.

            Genter again:

            Julie Anne Genter: Given that Auckland is expected to grow by more than the entire population of Wellington by 2031, why is his Government not prioritising smart infrastructure like this city rail link, which will unlock the capacity of our existing rail asset and take tens of thousands of cars off the road at peak time, giving Aucklanders real choices and freeing up the roads for freight and commercial traffic?

    • karol 1.3

      Wayne, anything other than a congestion free network is short sighted. It may seem to people on the North Shore, still focused on extended spaces of quarter acre sections, that a few road upgrades and a second harbour crossing will do the trick.

      Here in the west, we are seeing the increasing need for compact housing with the necessary infrastructure and easy commutes to accessible jobs. Only a comprehensive plan, including less focus on cars and more focus on affordable public transport, will do the trick.

      These days I think twice about a trip into Auckland CBD, and mainly only do so in conjunction with work. It’s time-consuming, expensive (with or without the car) and public transport (my preferred option) is way to slow and uncertain to be fit for the future.

      With the focus on New Lynn as a hub and transport-centre; and the intensification of the Massey area, there is a major need for investment in public transport, plus the infrastrsucture that supports walking and cycling.

      And there also should be a parallel focus on revitalising the regions, rather than just going with the idea of the inevitable exponential growth of Auckland.

      • lprent 1.3.1

        Fixing the ticketing systems on the train stations would be a good start from the sound of it. But there are a quite a few people out that way using the train these days.

        But at present, I’m just hanging out for the integrated ticketing system aka AT Hop to get on buses. Steven Joyce screwing up the introduction of it by intervening in favour of his mates at Infratil and then them managing to “fail” to integrate while they recovered their software investment in Snapper has delayed a integrated ticketing system by several years. One of those classic boondoggles of corporate whining and a useless and ineffective minister that listened rather than using their brains.

        I’m tired of carrying cash as being the only way I can jump around public transport

        • Draco T Bastard 1.3.1.1

          Steven Joyce screwing up the introduction of it by intervening in favour of his mates at Infratil and then them managing to “fail” to integrate while they recovered their software investment in Snapper has delayed a integrated ticketing system by several years.

          It was a balls up and Joyce should have been fired for it but the AT Hop should be on buses this year.

          The bit that’s irritating me about it is that the government isn’t declaring the AT Hop as a national, and open, standard. Doing that would ensure that the card could be used around the country.

          I’m tired of carrying cash as being the only way I can jump around public transport

          The more I think about it the more I think cash has come to the end of its use.

  2. North 2

    ShonKey Python to his masters: “Trust me gentlemen – we’ll deliver you up New Zealand. It may not happen overnight but it will happen.”

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=10893978

    To the following idiots:

    – aspirationalists

    – cargo-cultists

    – “I’m alright Jack”

    – entitled “I’m better than you” snobs

    – beneficiary bashers

    – “Maori and Poly should get off their arse”

    – “sovereignty” is extreme Left

    – “democracy is well served in a triennial ritual”

    – “nothing to hide nothing to fear”

    – vainglorious while docile media

    All of you are to blame.

    All of you have been clipped. All of you have rolled over to the disingenuous, effete smile of a calculated liar.

    So when the heisters take the loot and fuck off to Hawaii with their knighthoods, when you too feel the cruel consequences, you’d better not redouble your morally indefensible reflex to demonise those down the food chain, the poor, the vulnerable.

    You do that and you’ll get it back in your face, hard. And you’ll richly deserve it.

    “It may not happen overnight but it will happen !”

    • muzza 2.1

      One way or another, the owners of the monetary system, the ultimate owners of all the debt, both private, and public, will get hold of, everything!

      Its a mathematical certainty, the variable, as North points out, is time!

      The constitutional revue, will tell a little more about how some of the *native barriers*, will be removed.

      NZ has shown that it will roll over, and indeed that is what is going on, right now.

      This country, is now so far into dangerous territory, damage control, is about the most there is left to fight for.

      Most don’t even know they’re in the scap yet!

    • Tim 2.2

      @ North – beautifully expressed!

  3. All this expensive transport infrastructure is bullshit facing global warming.
    Tunnels flood, motorways drown. Capitalist hubris.
    What’s needed are dykes and canals.

    • karol 3.1

      This dyke reporting for duty, rr.

      But, on the serious side, I think it’s a pity they never followed through the old plan to put a canal through Auckland (from around Green Bay, I think?) to the east coast.

      • Draco T Bastard 3.1.1

        You’re thinking of Portage Road where boats used to be portaged across from one side to the other. I suspect shipping advances outstripped the plan to turn it into a canal and the Manukau Harbour is somewhat dangerous for shipping due to all the moving sandbanks.

        • karol 3.1.1.1

          Well the Portage route would be the shortest route. I’m not sure why it was not followed through, but I think it was maybe cost and the fact that roads and rail started to take off back in the early 20th century.

          I wasn’t thinking of it being use for shipping, but for smaller craft – public transport and freight.

  4. BLiP 4

    You gotta bear in mind with John Key that every portfolio he has, he’s fucked it up and lied about it, from the full-length of the country concrete cycleway to SkyCity, from BMWs to GCSB.

  5. fambo 5

    National man talk with forked tongue (apologies to Indigenous Americans and snakes)

  6. North 6

    Get Brownlee masquerading as Sergeant Schultz. Good enough for an Oscar except that Schultz was generally short on bombast.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=10893978

  7. Coronial Typer 7

    So you’ve got $10 billion to spend.

    How would you transform Auckland better than this?

    Be entrepeneurial. Imagine anything you like.

    • QoT 7.1

      Subway system, pedestrian-and-tram-only Queen Street, commuter ferries from downtown to Mission Bay/Takapuna/Te Atatu. Symonds/Hobson/Nelson to form a public transport loop, congestion charge for private commuter vehicles within that zone.

      And free entry to Kelly Tarltons.

      Disclaimer: haven’t been an Aucklander for some years now …

      • karol 7.1.1

        I like the car-less Queen Street idea.

        More buses connecting with the trains.

        Just more focus on public transport, and pedestrians before cars, instead of motor traffic being given the main consideration.

        I am pretty sick of having to go all around the houses, and wait at a series of traffic lights, to get to a train station. And busy streets with no crossings near a bus station on the other side of the street.

        And why are there no change machines? I have used them in other countries.

        As Lynn indicates @ 1.3.1 above when I travel on buses it’s hard to always have the right change.

        See the article in the NZ Herald about the whole big note and bus issue. I’ve had a bad reaction from a bus driver when I’ve produced a $20 note. Sometimes it’s all the cash you have.

        At the weekend, waiting for a bus at a transport centre, there was a guy going around all the other people waiting, asking for change for a $20 note. No-one seemed to have spare change of that amount.

        There should be a change machine at every transport centre, even with a working transferable Hop card system.

        • QoT 7.1.1.1

          Oooh, transferable fare cards are a definite must. Especially ones which can be topped up en route (trying to find a Snapper top-up place in some parts of Wellington is a nightmare.)

  8. Wayne (a different one) 8

    “Gazumped” yet again – the left looking totally bewildered..

    • karol 8.1

      Actually, John Key’s attempt to spin his dodgy transport package, with it’s yawning gaps, and diversionary claims, is a sign of him being in panic mode because he knows Aucklanders want better public transport.

      • McFlock 8.1.1

        To tell the truth, though, I was a bit bewildered – by Wayne’s comment.
        Each to their own reality, I guess…

  9. tsmithfield 9

    Given the timing of the projects, Key doesn’t have to show the money at all. In fact, if the left believe that they will be in power at that point, maybe the left should be explaining how the projects will be paid for.

    • Murray Olsen 9.1

      Thank you for making your double standard explicit. I propose a free Parnell mansion for everyone, within the next year. If the right believe they will be in power during that time, they have to explain how they’re going to pay for it. Ooh, I like this silly game.

      • tsmithfield 9.1.1

        The fact is there is enough money to pay for the projects over the time span of the projects (unlike the rather silly example you gave). It is just a matter of determining priorities.

        So, would the left pay for the projects by shifting existing money around, or would they borrow more and tax more to pay for the projects. Or would they dump them altogether, or substantially modify them?

        • felix 9.1.1.1

          So does Key have to say how he’d pay for it or not?

          • tsmithfield 9.1.1.1.1

            No.

            • felix 9.1.1.1.1.1

              But Labour does?

              • tsmithfield

                The left appear to see the difficulties in funding the projects. By implication, they will have difficulty funding with projects within their own set of priorities. So, if they anticipate being in government at the time of the projects, they should be saying what they will do about them and how they will fund them.

                Anyway, I have already heard Key say, in a general sense, how they will be paid for. Given the projects are projected to start in 2020, it is silly to try and be more specific than that.

                • felix

                  So that’s a “yes” then.

                  National don’t have to say how they’ll fund things, Labour do. Righto.

                  • tsmithfield

                    Sigh….

                    I would be quite satisfied if the left were to say something like:

                    “given the length of time to the project, and the duration over which they take place, it is unrealistic to put firm numbers to the project at this stage. However, it would be our intention to follow through with the projects which would be funded through a combination of taxes and borrowing.”

                    I heard Key say pretty much exactly that on the radio the other day, and is no more than I would expect from any political party given the time frames being considered.

                    However, if the left are demanding a precise explanation of how the projects are to be funded, then they should show how they would do it, or if they would do it at all. If they can’t do this, then why are they carping on at National?

                    • felix

                      You said Key doesn’t have to say how he’ll pay for his spending promise.

                      Then you said Labour does have to.

                      Dress it up however you like, facts is facts.

                    • tsmithfield

                      National has already given an adequate statement about this IMO. They don’t need to say it again. If Labour wants to commit on a similar basis, then fine. However, if they want to demand more of National, they should be prepared to put up themselves first.

  10. karol 10

    Excellent post by Julie Anne Genter just up on The Daily Blog, and on the government’s Auckland transport plan.

    Some points she makes relevant to the discussions above:

    At an expensive luncheon put on by the Chamber of Commerce (held at Sky City, of course) the PM announced that central government would be getting behind most of the transport projects in the Auckland Plan. The vast majority are expensive, and unhelpful, highway projects.

    How any of these projects will be funded has still not been explained, and rail still isn’t the priority. Key and Brownlee are talking about a 2020 start date. Never mind that buses will be over capacity by 2021 without the CRL. National hope to take credit for a popular project, without actually committing any funding to make it happen.

    This is clearly a vote-winning exercise, done to placate the big Auckland business interests who will benefit from the project. Unfortunately, they still haven’t grasped the critical paradigm shift – spending billions on new highway capacity isn’t going to help congestion or reduce transport costs. It will make things worse.

    Today at an Auckland Mayoral Conversation event, Edward Glaeser, a Harvard economist (not known for being left wing or an environmental extremist) made exactly this point. The fundamental law of road congestion is that if you build more highway lanes, people drive more. This incurs all sorts of additional costs, including but not limited to: congestion, forced vehicle ownership, need for parking, high fuel use, associated environmental costs and crashes.

    […]
    Freight only makes up about 7% of vehicles at any given time, and 1% at peak. We have plenty of roads for freight and other commercial vehicles, the issue is commuters.
    What about buses? Don’t they need roads? Obviously buses don’t need extra highway capacity – they need priority on our existing roads. And if we make them reliable and effective, we won’t need as much highway capacity.

    Aucklanders aren’t wedded to their cars – it’s an abusive relationship they have been consigned to by successive decades of car-centric transport policy.
    […]

    John Key and the National Government still do not seem any closer to providing real transport choice, even if they have realised that rail might be popular in Auckland. Their concession is a win for rational transport in the public discourse, but to get the urgent rail investment we need, New Zealanders will almost certainly need to vote in a new government next year. – See more at: http://thedailyblog.co.nz/2013/07/02/national-the-new-champions-of-auckland-rail/#sthash.R5jXRgL0.dpuf

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