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LocalBodies: Gerry Brownlee, Making Stuff Up Again!

Written By: - Date published: 10:36 pm, March 18th, 2014 - 35 comments
Categories: Gerry Brownlee, transport - Tags: , ,

The crazy thing about Gerry Brownlee is that he is so incompetent because he never seems to study anything that he is responsible for. And yet people on the inside of the National party appear to rate him? I guess that says more about their skill sets. bsprout wrote this post at Local Bodies on monday.

Gerry Brownlee has struggled to defend his $12 billion Roads of National Significance (RONS) when questioned by the Green Party’s transport spokesperson, Julie Anne Genter.  Time and time again Brownlee has been reduced to bluff and bluster when Julie Anne has demanded evidence and the economic rationale behind the motorway projects.

There was the memorable occasion when Julie Anne demanded that Gerry produce his evidence to support the RONS, when all data available from the NZTA show that traffic volumes are stagnant. Gerry was not able to produce any evidence other than that roads were important and people wanted them. When Julie Anne used a point of order to force him to properly address the question, Lockwood Smith (Speaker at the time) intervened to explain that the Minister was saying that the motorways were being built because HE thought they were a good idea.

On another occasion Julie Anne suggested that the $12 billion budgeted for motorway construction placed New Zealand in a similar position as Greece, where spending on motorway construction had contributed to its economic collapse. In response Gerry claimed it was actually big spending on rail that had caused the problem. This was widely reported by the media when it was actually a lie as Greece had spent little on rail but billions on a new motorway system.

Today revealed more deliberate misinformation from Gerry as he was recorded on National Radio claiming that the Greens were demanding strong cost/benefit ratios for motorways when the Auckland rail loop only provided a .8 return on investment. This figure is a total fabrication. The 2011 analysis of the project (p 13) produced a benefit cost ratio (BCR) of 1.0 to 1.1 when related to immediate transport benefits and when wider economic benefits (WEBs) were taken into account the ratio increased to as much as 2.3. Given the increasing demand for public transport in Auckland this ratio is likely to be even better now. Gerry lied!

Brownlee never appears to be well informed and uses attack as a means of defense. His outburst against Labour MPs involved a later apology and backdown, but in most cases the media just accept and report what he says and rarely check the truth behind his statements.

I find it appalling that this country is comfortable with a government that bases its decisions and major spending on personal opinions and skewed data and that we have a media that is prepared to accept lies as fact.

Postscript: It is interesting to listen to today’s exchange, where Brownlee claims that the Government does not rely on the ‘bureaucratic’ advice of the NZTA but base decisions on their own strategic analysis.

The Green Party’s recently announced policy will have a far bigger impact on local communities and will provide a far greater BCR than the motorways.

35 comments on “LocalBodies: Gerry Brownlee, Making Stuff Up Again! ”

  1. Tamati 1

    Voters like roads, Brownlee likes votes, therefore Brownlee likes roads. It’s populism plain and simple, aimed at at middle of the road voters stuck in a traffic jam.

    • Richard Christie 1.1

      Of course he likes roads, girth like that is pretty hard to navigate down a busy footpath.

    • Populuxe1 1.2

      Christchurch voters need roads

      • Lanthanide 1.2.1

        Yes, and we already got our RONS. I’m staring at it right now, in fact.

        The CHCH RONS was one of the few that had a good cost:benefit ratio, and given that it was greenlighted before the 2010 September quake, and subsequently the population has shifted west, it came at a very opportune time.

        Unfortunately for you, the $12B we’re talking about here are for roads not in Christchurch, otherwise you might have a valid point.

      • Tracey 1.2.2

        which doesnt address his stance on auckland roads

  2. tricledrown 2

    Brownoselee can’t fit in bus or train.
    So that’s why he is Bi arse.
    Double talk from double chin.

  3. Ad 3

    Also perhaps unnoticed is that National has consistently raised taxes on petrol and diesel. In transport, National is not a low-tax party.

    NZTA fully accept they are where TransportBlog and Genter have been pointing for some time: while trucking continues its post-GFC climb (and with it RUC income), private vehicle kms continue trending down (and with it the great majority of transport income). NZTA can already see that in short order the income will not support tho great motorway boom.

  4. Philj 4

    Xox
    Is Brownlee /Nats getting election funding from Trucking Association, or perhaps Downers highway construction? 12 billion is a lot of money for business interests. Is this a Public Private Partnership, minus the public benefit, but plus the cost?

  5. tc 5

    And why do our roads seem to be needing alot more maintenance over the past years.

    The same stretches seem to be worked on after being completed recently and other patches always seem to either shoulder closed or undergoing some form of repair.

    Are we so crap at maintenance now or not doing the job right.

    Ive been observing resealing and centre strip plantings now being pulled on a fresh overpass on sh1 done less than 2 years, resealing seems fine being a new road but watching young plants doing what plants do being ripped out raises the eyebrows.

    • ianmac 5.1

      The Main Highway 1 from Blenheim to Picton is being constantly resealed. At least annually. I think the huge number of trucks including logging trucks are responsible. Will Roaduser charges cover the cost? Doubt it. Will the taxpayers pay for the truck damage? Yes. We are heavily subsidising trucking companies.

    • Kahukowhai 5.2

      Bigger trucks are now allowed on roads, in some cases totally unsuited.

      For example the Hundalee Hills highway south of Kaikoura, which is steep and winding with numerous sharp curves down to 45 km/h, has been designated as suitable for the 62 tonne HPMVs, the monster train-killer trucks that the Nats have allowed to be introduced in the past few years.

  6. Tracey 6

    The only explanation I can come up for about Brownlee’s high ranking is that he must know where alot of bodies are buried.

  7. Ad 7

    Note TransportBlog today has a quick summary of the transport policies of those parties polling over 5% in the last election.

  8. fambo 8

    Around 40 percent of rates goes to maintaining roads in the region I live, other than the main highways

  9. Tracey 9

    transportblog and generation zero are becoming favourite sites of mine. brownlee could do worse than read them.

  10. Wayne 10

    Tracey,

    On TV3 last night Josie Pagani was concerned that Labour kept attacking National’s roads programme. She seemed to think that the continual attack would be a real negative for voters.

    It would seem that a lot of voters quite like to see the core motorway system being completed (Auckland to Hamilton, Waterview, Transmission Gully and yes even Puhoi to Wellsford, well at least to Warkworth).

    And the Green attack on these projects does not impress middle voters.

    • Tracey 10.1

      Wayne

      I am not a labour voter so your comment doesnt affect me much. My observation of josie’s recent utterances is that she wants labour to be national lite.

      Have you visited generation zero and transport blog on auckland transport ideas? It makes for interesting reading and offers some less expensive alternatives in some instances.

    • Tracey I guess it depends where you live, out in the regions there is huge frustration about the cuts in funding for road maintenance to support the RONS. Southland, as one example, earns 12% of our export income, has an extensive network of roads, but we are funded on our population (2%). That funding has been cut by a further 25% and many of our roads are now degrading.

      • Tracey 10.2.1

        fair comment but gerry is plumping for motorway financing which wont repair your roads.g

    • framu 10.3

      “Josie Pagani was concerned”

      yeah… not really that worried about what the paganis think

      if your trying to sway opinion here you might want to consider a better source

      It would seem that a lot of voters – proof?

      And the Green attack on these projects does not impress middle voters. – proof?

    • Kahukowhai 10.4

      Last Labour government spent a lot on highways, in fact they took political control of the highway budget. There is one thing only I will say about the 1990s National government – they decentralised highway spending decisions, and Labour took it back under central government domination.

  11. James Thrace 11

    At Tc and ianmac. Roads are being reselaled thanks to short termism and contractors seeing an opportunity for an ongoing revenue stream.

    Prior to 1989 most territorial roads were sealed with a 3×2 layer as follows. Gravel/tar/gravel/tar/gravel. The subsequent wear and tear on the reading surface was far less than you see today.

    With the great outsourcing boom, private contractors, many of whom had worked for said local authorities knew of the CBR when it came to sealing the roads.

    In the downward drive to reduce expenditure, many local authorities put out to tender their road sealing contracts.

    Contractors now saw the license to print money. Using the inside knowledge of the cost to seal the road using the 3×2 structure, many contractors cut their bids quite heavily, but only promise to bring the road up to ‘traffic grade standard’

    Just what that is isn’t clearly defined. Councils loved the idea that their one off cost of fixing the road could be so cheap!

    Of course it was cheap. Contractors went for the 3rd world and farm road method of 2×1 layering which is gravel/tar/gravel.

    End result now is shoddy reading that can’t quite stand the rigours of our heavier vehicles, higher traffic volume and is essentially subjected on a monthly basis to all manner of utility servicing.

    Hence why now most roads require resealing at least 18 monthly.

    Going back to the old 3×2 method would extend the life of the road out to around 3 years, but contractors would lose money that way so its a no go.

    • James, you make some good points, I happened to talk to a reputable contractor who said that they still tender based on the old approach but always lose to the cheapest offer, which are clearly cutting costs. We need to have a rethink of procurement policies so that wider issues are considered like boosting the local economy by employing local contractors and the long term value of spending a little more to get a better job done. In the past the lowest and highest tenders were ignored but now it appears that the focus is all on cost.

      • Lanthanide 11.1.1

        “but now it appears that the focus is all on cost.”

        I’d like to see how these chinese-made trains factor up on the cost ledger, when you include the downtime from having them off the tracks and possibly requiring asbestos removal.

    • Murray Olsen 11.2

      James, that’s how road contracts work in the 3rd world. The initial building costs are quite low, but the firm is guaranteed 10 or 20 years of maintenance, which basically comes as a blank cheque. Of course, in many countries there is corruption involved, with kickbacks to the local/state/federal politicians. Luckily this could never happen in Aotearoa, where political funding and donations are made transparent by the Waitemata Trust and National ministers don’t get financial rewards until they get appointed to boards of various corporations, or paid $1000/day by Brownlee to fix Christchurch.

  12. Corokia 12

    6 weeks of roadworks on less than 1km of road on Leith Saddle just north of Dunedin, such low quality that the seal came off the uphill lane the trucks use within days and it is now restricted to 70km/hr while the same crew are digging up more of SH1 a few kms north. Cheap tenders plus trucks that are too heavy stuff the roads, but poor decisions by Kiwirail mean rail is being rundown too.

    • Kahukowhai 12.1

      Kiwirail are in the difficult position of being kept on a fairly short leash by the government with a private sector manager dominated board, and having been forced into this Turnaround Plan which has denied them the funding they really desperately needed to upgrade their network and other aspects of the operation. Still interested to hear more about what “poor decisions by Kiwirail” might be.

  13. hoom 13

    Auckland Transportblog did an article on this latest Genter vs Brownlee episode
    http://transportblog.co.nz/2014/03/19/brownlee-admits-they-ignore-economic-analysis-when-it-suits-them/

    Aside from all the making stuff up bullshit, the fact that he actually drops the charade & admits that they are just making the Roads of Importance to National because National see it as a strategic investment is fascinating.

    Meanwhile he is still happy to pretend that its the economic case that keeps them from backing CRL for Auckland.

    Also it really gets my goat that at the end he makes the brazen assumption that those who walk, cycle or take public transport don’t pay tax.

    Julie Anne Genter: Does the Minister understand that duplicating motorways to the Kāpiti coast or Wellsford does nothing to alleviate serious congestion in our city centres—in fact, according to the New Zealand Transport Agency, they make congestion worse—whereas investing in smart projects like walking and cycling to school take cars off the road, eases congestion, and improves public health?

    Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: It also very seriously inconveniences the people who pay for those roads, and their commitment to these projects will be seen at the ballot box.

    Fuck you Brownlee, I pay tax too.
    My tax is paying for these stupid roads and I’d like to see much more of it be spent on public transport, cycle ways & improving life for pedestrians.

    There are a bunch of my colleagues who also walk/cycle to my workplace in Newmarket & many more who take public transport.

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