More holiday highways from Nats

Written By: - Date published: 9:39 am, June 30th, 2011 - 31 comments
Categories: transport - Tags:

National thinks more roads will fix the economy. Problem is: traffic volumes are falling. It’s called Peak Oil. Means they can’t come up with any projects that make sense. Puhoi to Wellsford would cost $1 for every 80 cents of benefit. The next 4 National wants to add to the build list will be even more worthless. Their solution? Weaken the rules.

Here are Joyce’s new criteria for deciding which roading projects will go ahead.

Affordable? Off the list.

Responsive? Off the list.

Sustainable? Off the list.

Even ‘assist economic development’ is off the list.

What the hell? If a road isn’t affordable, responsive, sustainable, and doesn’t assist economic development, what’s the point?

The point is: Joyce and National believe in roads. It’s a religious thing. An article of faith. And they believe in building roads that their voters will use and everyone else will subsidise. Having to jump through a bunch of hoops to prove that a roading project isn’t a complete waste of time and money is a pain in the arse.

So, re-elect National and this is your future: paying taxes to subsidise more Holiday Highways so that Tories can get to their bach, sorry, beach house faster. Elect a Labour-Green government and you won’t be subsidising Tories. Puhoi to Wellsford will be canned. And the next generation of RoNS will never get off the drawingboard.

31 comments on “More holiday highways from Nats”

  1. ianmac 1

    It is just another arm of the cutting back of the Consent process. Dictators getting things done is the trend and peasants just get in the way of those who know best. All Hail Sir Steven!

  2. Richard 2

    Joyce’s argument might be that the dropped criteria are encompassed by “efficient” and “effective”.

    Of course, in reality the new criteria are so mutable that pretty much anything that you have decided to do for other reasons can be construed to comply. Afterall, it is difficult to argue that a straight, flat piece of tar-seal between two points is not an “efficient” and “effective” road. Which is, of course, the point from NACTs perspective.

  3. Colonial Viper 3

    They might as well build hay and water stations for pack animals along the side of these new roads.

    Sorry Hillside Workshops/KiwiRail there’s nothing left over for you.

  4. Portion Control 4

    The current criteria is bullshit gobbledegook, that can be used to justify anything you want, depending on how you apply the criteria. “Let’s build this train line because trains promote public health.”

    Why did the previously criteria exclude such really important things as :”Promote tikanga maori” or “fosters intercultural and interstellar relations”?

    Is Labour opposing this bill or the change of criteria? I doubt it.

    • Blighty 4.1

      i love that your say the existing criteria are “gobbledegook” and then complain that they don’t include the things you think should be in a PC Labour policy.

      Can you tell me what is “gobbledegook” about “affordable”?

    • Lanthanide 4.2

      The current criteria do seem a bit waffly – what do “integrated” and “responsive” even mean in the context of a road? Are roads “responsive”?

      I’d suggest that the criteria are waffly because they don’t actually have enough extra word tacked on, like this: “Integrated with prevailing local transport modes” and “Responsive to local congestion”.

      • Blighty 4.2.1

        integrated means fitting with nearby transport modes – their capacity, their volumes

        responsive means providing what is needed and will be needed

        • Lyall

          Efficient = affordable, integrated,responsive, assist economic development, Effective = solves the problem (improves access, mobiblity etc), ensures environmental sustainability (this is covered under economic evaluation procedures). Economic evaluation of roading projects opr any major construction are not just about money, the intangible benefits are calculated as well, and improvement or enhancement of amenity values. Safe = protect and promote public health, assist safety and personal security.

          Thats the problem with lefties, a thousand meaningless words and waffle are used when 3 would suffice.

          • Zaphod Beeblebrox

            Efficient=affordable hmmmm….

            wonder how many RoNs would get past that criteria?

          • Luxated

            The problem with this argument is that there is more than one kind of efficiency (and efficacy). A dirt track is efficient in terms of $/km but it won’t move much traffic per km either. A superhighway from Auckland to Wellington is efficient in terms of $/person km but it isn’t very responsive if you’re trying to move people from Gisborne to Hastings.

            You see, when you do selection criteria for projects you want as many criteria as possible provided they are relevant and are not duplicates of each other, because at the end of the day you need to put a number against them which is much easier if the criterion in question is clear.

            Think of it like going to a four star restaurant, five star food, drinks, ambience and facilities coupled with one star service. You can boil it all down into one category (the headline star rating) but it doesn’t tell you enough about what you actually want to know, something rather important when you’re spending billions on a project.

            • Colonial Viper

              Any new road paid for by the general tax payer is satisfactorily efficient and effective for the road transport lobby.

              • Rusty Shackleford

                With so called “public” goods, there is no way of measuring efficiency. As the good is provided for “free”, people use the good when they might not otherwise have if they had to pay for it out of pocket. This leads to a classic tragedy of the commons scenario. ie congestion in the case of roads. In a correctly working market, congestion on toll roads would cause a signal to the market that there is cash to be made if you can offer an alternative. Of course we don’t know what these alternatives would be, but our planners in chief think they can plan generations in advance, so what would I know?

                Case in point. In my part of Korea, a new (mostly privately owned, I think) bridge has opened to one of the industrial/tourism (funny how that works) centres on an island off the coast. Taking the old, congested, PPP highway costs about $2. The new bridge costs about $12, which has caused an uproar amongst a certain section of the population (Koreans love a good protest as much as the next guy). What those people seem to fail to see is that taking the bridge shaves more than an hour off the travel time. Sometimes, sitting in traffic, I would more than happily part with $10 to get where I’m going an hour quicker.

                • Colonial Viper

                  Sometimes, sitting in traffic, I would more than happily part with $10 to get where I’m going an hour quicker.

                  In NZ $10 is an hour at work.

                  This leads to a classic tragedy of the commons scenario. ie congestion in the case of roads. In a correctly working market, congestion on toll roads would cause a signal to the market that there is cash to be made if you can offer an alternative.

                  Markets are not suitable applications in many areas and roads are generally one of them.

                  Yeah the Koreans love a good riot or two haha

                  • Jim Nald

                    “We would love to see wages drop”

                    Hello Korea!

                  • Rusty Shackleford

                    We’ve had this conversation before. So called “natural” monopolies are a post hoc reasoning for govt intervention, not a defense of intervention.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Fuck “defence of intervention”, corporates and banks intervene all the time; what you are missing is the “defence of the damage that capitalist free markets have done in multiple areas of life”.

                      “Natural monopolies” is not a post hoc argument, it forms part of a clear and forward looking statement that in many key human endeavours, optimal societal benefit cannot result from a pot pourri of market actors acting in what they see at the time as their own self interests.

                    • Rusty Shackleford

                      Banks and corporates don’t have the ability to directly intervene. ie they can’t levy taxes. Although, govts do give them the power to indirectly tax citizens through fractional reserve banking and through special privileges under the law. Bail outs, tariffs etc. Can you give an example of a truly free market damaging someones life?

                      So taking your reasoning some areas need to be publically provided. Which areas shouldn’t be provided by the govt?

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Banks and corporates don’t have the ability to directly intervene. ie they can’t levy taxes.

                      ? Banks levy people all the time. How do you think NZ banks ship $2.5B worth of profits offshore every year?

                      You also seem to be labouring under the misunderstanding that government, banks and corporates are all distinct, separate and independent entities.

                      Can you give an example of a truly free market damaging someones life?

                      ? Truly free markets only exist in your imagination
                      The actual corporatised free markets we have now damage lives daily.

                      NB world powerbrokers are not interested in your theoretically idealistic free markets, they are only interested in free markets which convenience and serve their maximal profitability.

                      Back on topic: market mechanisms are hopeless and undesirable in many critical areas.

                    • Rusty Shackleford

                      “? Banks levy people all the time. How do you think NZ banks ship $2.5B worth of profits offshore every year?”
                      I answered this in the very next sentence. Fractional reserve banking.

                      “You also seem to be labouring under the misunderstanding that government, banks and corporates are all distinct, separate and independent entities.”
                      No I’m not. I’m fully aware that business and govt are intertwined. It’s why I advocate for limited govt. Govt is the source of the corporates and banks power. They can’t commit these atrocities in a free market.

                      “Truly free markets only exist in your imagination”

                      Then how can free markets be as destructive as you suggest? Considering they don’t actually exist.

                      “The actual corporatised free markets we have now damage lives daily.”
                      I fully and heartily agree with your sentiment here.

                      “world powerbrokers are not interested in your theoretically idealistic free markets, they are only interested in free markets which convenience and serve their maximal profitability.”
                      Agree. Corporatism is basically fascism. It needs to be destroyed and replaced with truly free markets.

                      “market mechanisms are hopeless and undesirable in many critical areas.”
                      Can you give an example?

                    • Colonial Viper

                      I answered this in the very next sentence. Fractional reserve banking.

                      Meh banks can’t make any money from fractional reserve banking unless they can levy interest.

                      See the special ingredient you missed there?

                      No I’m not. I’m fully aware that business and govt are intertwined. It’s why I advocate for limited govt.

                      You are a fool for not wanting to limit corporations and banks. Your approach disempowers the public sector and empowers the private/corporate sector.

                      Then how can free markets be as destructive as you suggest? Considering they don’t actually exist.

                      Don’t be fucking disingenous please. The promise of truly free markets was the trojan horse which neoliberals used to greatly increase corporate power at the expense of workers and govts.

                      It needs to be destroyed and replaced with truly free markets.

                      They won’t let you.

                      “market mechanisms are hopeless and undesirable in many critical areas.” Can you give an example?

                      Numerous! FFS man eg. the US govt should be directly employing millions of Americans to rebuild and close the gap on their $2T infrastructure deficit, not relying on “market mechanisms” to reduce unemployment and fix up their highways.

                    • Rusty Shackleford

                      If you can lend out the same dollar multiple times, of course you can spin a buck.

                      I’m all for limiting the leaching sector of the economy in order that the productive sector might grow.

                      The neo-liberal reforms were good in some ways, bad in others. Better than the reigning system before hand.

                      So, you can’t actually come up with an example of where the free market did harm (I’m sure it haws a some point)? In any case, you don’t believe a free market has ever existed, so I don’t see how you could. That the US govt decided to hand over a giant stack of cash to crooks, instead of throw it at infrastructure projects (that may or may not be economical (there is no way of telling)), isn’t a refutation of the free market. Part of the reason businesses aren’t investing can be attributed to regime uncertainty. Firms don’t know what wacky scheme Obama is going to pull next.

  5. Anthony 5

    I don’t think Joyce believes in anything except where the next donation cheque comes from.

  6. There are potentially some really radical changes from reading the press release:
    1.  No more regional fuel taxes.  If Auckland wanted one to fund the Queen Street tunnel they are fresh out of luck.
    2.  The Regional Land Transport Committee is now going to comprise of Auckland Transport’s board members.  Most of them are Rodney appointments.  There used to be elected councillors on the board together with representatives of such groups as public transport users, and tangata whenua.  If enacted Auckland will lose a bit more of their local democracy.
    3.  NZTA will be able to borrow.  Right now it has to make sure that it keeps within what it receives from the fuel excise duty and other income.  This has a limiting effect and means that it has to take into account projected income.  If this is relaxed it could borrow to construct a number of motorways and then watch as its income dwindles and more and more of it is eaten up by interest payments.  Right now it funds a great deal of PT as well as motorway construction as well as maintenance.
    Joyce is at it again.  He is very good.  Just a snip here and a deft cut there and suddenly the fundamental direction of NZTA and transport is changed.
    Looks like we are heading more and more to a roads future.  Shame he does not understand that peak oil is already here.

  7. Rusty Shackleford 7

    I agree. Take transport out of the hands of the central planners.

    • felix 7.1

      The Crusty Simpleton answer to everything.

      How about we just take it out of the hands of corrupt fuckwits instead?

  8. Zaphod Beeblebrox 8

    The old Soviet Party bureaucrats in Moscow would be proud of these sorts of initiatives. Centralise all decision making, lump every decision under the nebulous term ‘efficient’ the obsfucate where the funding is going to come from- brilliant!!

  9. ianupnorth 9

    Protect and promote public health

    There’s one they have lost that shouldn’t be; we have the Ministry of Health encouraging active transport, e.g. walking and cycling, and also ensuring that pollution and accident risk is minimised, yet we have another Ministry running slapdash over their good work.
    Same thing  with breastfeeding, MoH says keep mother breastfeeding for 6 months, yet WINZ states it is not a reason for mothers having to get into work at 3 months else lose their benefits.

  10. David 10

    I guess what someone needs to ask about again are links between the holiday highway (and the previous Alpurt motorway), North Shore real estate developers and the Waitemata Trust, who put up money for things like the Nats billboard campaigns. Now, what could we say about those links?

    Well, here was Trevor Mallard said about some of those links in Parliament, Hansard 20 Feb 2008.

    “My next question to Mr Key is when he will tell this House how much he gave as part of his hidden donation—hidden in order to avoid the declaration—to the National Party. Was it six figures, as we understand; and was it more than what Owen Glenn gave to the Labour Party? We know that John Key did it through the Waitemata Trust and we know that Murray McCully’s mate Bob Browne arranged for that donation to be hidden. Bob Browne distinguished himself while chair of Transit by having the only motorway extension that happened in Auckland go to his own front door! We are talking about someone who is used to doing dodgy deals, and the fact that he is a business partner of Murray McCully is probably an indication of that. We want to know how much John Key’s donation was that Bob Browne hid”.

    Sunday Star times 3 Feb 2008. said this: “The biggest of National’s fronts for campaign fundings is the Waitemata Trust, which last election pumped $1.4m of donations into the party’s coffers. The trust’s only identifiable face is accountant Robert Browne, whose firm, MH&K, administers the trust’s books. Browne is a long-standing business associate of National campaign strategist Murray McCully and is a former National appointee as chairman of Transit New Zealand”.

  11. Afewknowthetruth 11

    Problem: too much consumption. Solution: more consumption.

    Problem: too much debt. Solution: more debt.

    Problem: excessive emissions. Solution: more emissions.

    Problem: lack of oil. Solution: transport that requires oil.

    It’s quite simple once you understand how the political mind works.

  12. Georgecom 12

    You are a little off base with the Puhoi BCR. The BCR you state of 0.8 is at the optimistic end of the spectrum. SAHA study had the BCR at 0.4 – 40 cents return for every $1 invested & 60 cents lost. Puhoi has an averaged BCR, if you add NZTA + SAHA & divide by 2, of about 0.6. If it becomes a toll road or if the price of petrol spikes up again quite soon the BCR looks even more abysmal. Remember how Bill English stated that he would reprioritise low value spending in the budget? Still waiting for Puhoi to be scrapped eh. Maybe a Auckland rail tunnel instead Bill.

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