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National’s fiscal ineptitude over Auckland transport

Written By: - Date published: 9:03 am, April 29th, 2018 - 32 comments
Categories: labour, national, phil goff, phil twyford, public transport, same old national, sustainability, the praiseworthy and the pitiful, transport - Tags: ,

Steven Joyce’s claim that there was a $11.5 billion hole in Labour’s budget is at one level correct.  But it was National’s ineptitude and failure to fund things which was the cause.

Take for instance Auckland’s Transport network.  After nine long years it is a mess.  If it was not for the extensive rail improvements that have come on line and the sanctioning of the completion of the ring route which the last Labour Government did not much would have happened if you exclude the construction of extraordinarily expensive but extraordinarily inefficient roads of national significance.  And National had to be dragged kicking and screaming to the realisation that the city rail link was a vital piece of infrastructure.

There is this big backlog of unfunded projects that need to be started on.  And paid for.

National’s last attempt had a $5.9 billion hole in its budget.  Labour has added other projects to the mix, toned down some of the really silly projects and come up with a proposal to fill the fiscal hole.

From Dan Satherley at Newshub:

Phil Twyford says National left a $9.7 billion “fiscal hole” in Auckland’s transportation budget, describing it as “another hand grenade in the bottom drawer that we’ve inherited”.

The Transport Minister on Thursday teamed up with Auckland Mayor Phil Goff to reveal a $28 billion plan to fix the city’s congestion over the next decade. It shifts much of the focus of the previous plan, developed by Auckland Council and National, from roads to public transport.

It’s a couple of billion dollars more than National was planning to spend, paid for by an upcoming fuel tax for the Auckland region.

“We have closed the funding gap,” Mr Twyford told The AM Show on Friday. “The programme of investment we announced yesterday is fully funded.”

National’s response to something that is pretty exciting is pretty turgid.

National’s Northcote candidate Dan Bidois thinks it is unfair to Northcote residents and they will not see any benefit.  From his press release:

A Government and Auckland Council plan to throw more cash at the city’s transport needs does nothing for people on the North Shore – in spite of forcing them to pay $15 more every time they fill up, National’s Northcote candidate Dan Bidois says.

“Today we’ve got proof that actions speak louder than words, and that despite what it says, Labour doesn’t really care about hardworking residents on this side of the bridge,” Mr Bidois says.

“They’ve got cash for trams down Dominion Road and cash for the south, east, and west of the city – but the North Shore seems to have fallen off the map – in spite of the massive new petrol tax. I’d like to ask Phil Goff and Phil Twyford, why that’s the case?

But as Simon Wilson points out there is a great deal for North Shore residents from ATAP including the following:

  • Construction of Penlink.
  • Improvements to Lake Road, Glenvar Road in Torbay and the Matakana Link Road.
  • Growth-related improvements in Silverdale, Dairy Flat, Wainui and Warkworth.
  • Road safety improvements.
  • Park and Ride improvements.
  • Improved infrastructure to allow more buses into the city centre, including those coming from the North Shore.
  • A new downtown ferry terminal, which will benefit passengers from the North Shore stops at Devonport, Birkenhead and Beach Haven.
  • The SkyPath over the harbour bridge will open and will link to a SeaPath running to Takapuna.
  • More wide shared paths for walking and cycling.
  • Technological improvements to traffic signalling and other services.

And the light rail is not yet funded and is not being funded by the regional fuel tax.

Jami Lee Ross claims the tax increases will cost Aucklanders hundreds of dollars a year.  Wilson estimates the increases will cost the average car owner between $2.33 and $2.76 per week.

Ross also thinks that all Labour is doing is repackaging National projects.  Some of them were but they were unfunded.  Having a gazillion projects ready to go but not being funded is not the way a responsible Government behaves.

And National is trying to drum up anti Auckland resentment in the provinces even though Auckland will only be receiving 38 percent of the National Land Transport Fund over the next decade, despite growing much faster than the rest of the country. It is estimated that around 55 percent of all population growth in New Zealand over the next 10 years is expected to be concentrated in the Auckland region.  Auckland has about a third of the country’s population.

The politics are pretty turgid and pretty ugly.  Drum up resentment both locally over paying more money and nationally because Aucklanders are getting too much.

But the city needs this.  Desperately.  If you want to build a future proof properly functioning city this costs.  And has to be planned for and funded.

32 comments on “National’s fiscal ineptitude over Auckland transport”

  1. Nick K 1

    Penlink, Matakana, Wainui, Silverdale, Dairy Flat and Warkworth are not on or in the North Shore.

    • mickysavage 1.1

      They are of benefit to the North Shore. As is the city rail link because it will reduce congestion everywhere.

    • dukeofurl 1.2

      North Shore had its super expensive at the time Busway, its the rest of Aucklands turn.

      Anyway, Bennett isnt Nationals transport spokeswoman, why was she even doing a soundbite.
      It was of course as her role as the Northcote election supremo for national that she got in a free party political soundbite.

  2. Wayne 2

    Labour did not do the CRL, did not let a single contract for it. It was all done by National.

    As for North Shore. All those projects were already announced. But all motorway improvements have been dropped due to left’s hatred of anything to do with four lane divided highways. Thank goodness that the current motorway projects are continuing for another 4 to 5 years. But after that nothing.

    Even though for instance 4 lanning Tauranga to Katikati would be far and away the best way to improve the safety of that road. I travel on it regularly in both a car and on a bike. Probably the least safe road in NZ, especially when I am on my bicycle. It is a ride that is bound to create at least one heart stopping moment. My wife says I am playing Russian roulette!

    • mickysavage 2.1

      Wayne …

      National fought the CRL all the way, refused to fund it, refused to do anything to support it. It took a Labour Mayor of Auckland to force their hand by going ahead with the project anyway.

      It was Labour policy and Green policy years ago. National had to be dragged kicking and screaming to eventually support it because it was clear that the network throughput was going to max out.

      The work should have been started years ago. As it is we will likely strike the situation where at peak times there will be no capacity until the CRL is completed.

      As for the other projects Penlink has been on the books for years, well before the time National took over.

      Some of the other projects may have been announced BUT THEY WERE NOT FUNDED.

      As for motorways talk to any urban designer and they will confirm that pandering to the private motor vehicle is the best way to kill a city.

      It is good to see that you are supporting cycleways 😀

      • Wayne 2.1.1

        So how come the Labour govt 1999 to 2008 didn’t start it when they could have.
        National did not do it 2009 to 2011, but that was during the GFC. National committed to it in 2011.

        As with all infrastructure projects in NZ it is taking several years. Even when construction starts it still takes 5 years, we are quite a lot slower than Australia. I don’t see that changing under the current government. Maybe it is largely a function of having a relatively small population so the workforce on each project is relatively small.

        • Pete

          Even when construction starts it still takes 5 years which means in Auckland that by the time a new road is finished there are the best part of another 200,000 people in the region.
          Does that mean anything to how the new road has solved congestion?

        • mickysavage

          Maybe they did not start work on the CRL last term because they were really busy doing the double tracking and the electrification after decades of neglect?

          And National’s “commitment” to the project had a couple of conditions that meant that it was not going to happen any time soon.

          • dukeofurl

            MS is right. The CRL couldnt really be started until the electrification was complete.
            No doubt the start on tunnelling would have happened earlier if labour was elected in 2008 , made sense as an infrastructure project to alleviate GFC effects.

            national only ‘committed to CRL’ a year out to 2017 election. Not 2011 as Wayne says. ( oh yes they were inspirational noises only back then.
            “14 September 2016
            An historic milestone was reached today with Mayor Len Brown signing an agreement with Transport Minister Simon Bridges on funding for the City Rail Link.
            ” Brown was about to leave office !

            Previously it was set a big target for passengers numbers and hope it doesnt happen ( but it did ahead of time)

            • Wayne

              Must have been a lot earlier than 2016. Construction started near the beginning of 2016. The actual detailed plan, the consent and all the land purchases must have taken at least 2 years.
              My recollection is the political commitment was made some time during the second term (2011 to 2014).

              • Wayne

                To add to this. I do recall Mayor Len saying the work could start prior to the actual final fiscal deal between govt and the city since the city would put its money up first. Mayor Len relied on the political promise as effectively ensuring that a fiscal deal would actually be done even if it took a bit of time.

                • Ad

                  You probably recall Joyce opposing all rail redevelopment across Auckland since 2009. He’s on record.

                  You probably also recall your colleagues in Parliament comparing the City Rail Link to a Simpson’s episode: “Monorail? Monorail”. Yes, the monorail song, brought to you by a Minister of your government, instead of facts.

                  You probably also recall the City Centre Access Plan, which was several million worth of stalling City Rail Link.

                  You will also probably recall that the only reason City Rail Link got going is because Mayor Brown was approached by Precinct Properties (then AMP) to demolish the downtown shopping centre and put in basement structures that would have stopped any rail extension. So Mayor Brown cut a deal to get them to redesign their foundations, and got the job going regardless. Zero support from your government.

                  You might also recall how none of your colleagues supported Labour’s dedicated busway through the North Shore. Most successful transport system in Auckland over nearly two decades.

                  We have had it with your lot wrecking Auckland ever since they tore up the tram tracks under Holland and Sir John Allum. We now have a motorway-dominated mess that moves nothing at peak hour when we all need it, which is at the feet of National. It is going to be a Labour government that turns this mess around into a functioning city.

      • Wayne 2.1.2

        So how come the Labour govt 1999 to 2008 didn’t start it when they could have.

        National did not do it 2009 to 2011, but that was during the GFC. National committed to it in 2011.

        As with all infrastructure projects in NZ it is taking several years. Even when construction starts it still takes 5 years to do any major project. We are quite a lot slower than Australia. I don’t see that changing under the current government. Maybe it is largely a function of having a relatively small population so the workforce on each project is relatively small.

        • Marcus Morris

          I guess you will be giving National all the credit for the Waterview Tunnel despite its planning being well underway during Helen Clark’s time in office. To give Stephen Joyce his due, he did widen it to three lanes each way.
          Clearly you have forgotten the number of times Len Brown pleaded Auckland’s transport case with the PM during his time as mayor. The CRL could have been started years ago and been much nearer completion.

          And on the subject of the “Grand” National schemes -over the busy summer holiday season I towed my caravan twice from Auckland to Whangarei return. I am very conscious of impeding traffic flow and look to move to the extreme left whenever it is safe to do so. On those two journeys I was amazed and delighted to be able to take advantage of the numerous and regular passing lanes. A four lane highway from Warkworth to Whangarei indeed!! As others better qualified than I am have said – construct more passing lanes.

          There is no question that that the southern side of the Brynderwyn’s is an issue that will not be easy to solve and is a major impediment to free traffic flow.

          Bill English’s holy grail of a “budget” surplus was only achieved through massive underspending on infrastructure from transport to hospitals to education as well as contributions to the Super Fund. We now have a government which is taking its responsibilities to the nation as a whole seriously. Thank goodness for that.

          • Wayne

            I do accept that Waterview was essentially started under Labour, in their last term. The project was reviewed by Steven Joyce in 2009 who opted for a shorter tunnel but of 3 lanes instead of 2. I think most people would agree that was the right decision.

            The CRL contracts were let in 2012 (I think). So if there was delay by National it was 2 years (the middle of the GFC).

            Labour talked about the CRL a lot between 2005 and 2008 but didn’t actually do anything about it. Instead they had a Royal Commission on the governance of Auckland. The core recommendation was the single city, which was implemented by National, broadly along the lines set out by the Commission.

            • Draco T Bastard

              The CRL contracts were let in 2012 (I think). So if there was delay by National it was 2 years (the middle of the GFC).

              More lies.

              National didn’t come to the table until 2016. Just two years ago when the CRL construction needed to be started in 2012.

            • dukeofurl

              Do you even live in Auckland anymore Wayne.

              Shorter tunnel is nonsense.
              Joyce tried to kill the whole tunnel and revert back to trenches and bridges and overpasses. Yes he added an extra lane ( plus an expensive link to the CBD motorway which meant an extra lane was a necessity and widening all the way to Western Springs)

              Once his final design was settled I think the contractors said there wasnt enough skilled staff and equipment to do the other RONs and a traditional surface motorway to Waterview.
              Back to a full bored tunnel it was with the fill going to an old railway quarry at Wiri.

              It was billions extra spent because Joyce wanted his car from Airport to city and onto lower North Shore not to have to go through traffic lights.
              These tunnel boring machines are great as existing community is destroyed by having surface motorway cut through them.

              • Wayne

                Yes, I do. I regularly use the tunnel. All the things you say are bad about it are actually good.

            • Dean Reynolds

              Wayne, the most significant road congestion solution the North Shore has ever had was the dedicated bus lanes beside the Northern Motorway, put in place by the last Labour Govt. Why didn’t National extend these to Silverdale?
              Phil Twyford’s plans now allows for this

    • Anne 2.2

      My wife says I am playing Russian roulette!

      I’m sure she’s right. Can’t say I’ve seen you peddling along Lake Rd which is a blessing. Anyone who cycles along that cycle-way is definitely courting disaster. We all told them so, but the old North Shore Council took no notice.

      • Wayne 2.2.1


        An cycling injury late last year (Taupo Cycle Challenge) prevented cycling over the summer. When I cycle I tend to do 2 or 3 circuits of Bayswater/Devonport to ensure I mostly get left hand turns. I rarely go from Bayswater to Takapuna on the cycle, though the lane is not too bad, even if a bit tight.

        This last summer it was swimming every day.

        • Anne

          Yes, swimming is my default position too though didn’t make it every day. Years of dog related injuries have come back to bite me big time. We’re very lucky to have beaches close by where we can exercise in the water instead. 🙂

    • AB 2.3

      “due to [the] left’s hatred of anything to do with four lane divided highways”

      If Wayne is going to lose it and make up lies about the “the left”, then I feel quite justified in talking about “the right’s hatred of public transport” and offering the (probably apocryphal) quote from Margaret Thatcher as evidence,
      “A man who, beyond the age of 26, finds himself on a bus can count himself as a failure.”

      • Draco T Bastard 2.3.1


      • Anne 2.3.2

        Nothing apocryphal about that AB.

        It has been the general attitude to public transport for the past 30 plus years. A common refrain “I wouldn’t be seen dead on a bus”. Thankfully the stupidity of such a mindset is changing and for the better.

        To my mind it is/was a direct effect of neo liberalism and the ‘one-up-man-ship’ attitudes associated with it and is hopefully going to disappear.

    • Draco T Bastard 2.4

      Labour did not do the CRL, did not let a single contract for it. It was all done by National.

      But they did have a plan for it. National fought that plan when they were in opposition and cancelled it when they got into power. Then, when it became obvious even to the dullards in National that it was needed they funded it – about five years later than what the Labour plan and reality called for.

      But all motorway improvements have been dropped due to left’s hatred of anything to do with four lane divided highways.

      It’s not a hatred of four lanes, as you well know, but a realisation that roading isn’t the answer and hasn’t been for decades.

      National likes roads though as the inefficiency of them increases profits for their donors.

      Even though for instance 4 lanning Tauranga to Katikati would be far and away the best way to improve the safety of that road.

      Removing the road would probably be even better. Not only would there be zero accidents on it but doing so would reduce GHG emissions improving safety for generations to come.

      Probably the least safe road in NZ, especially when I am on my bicycle.

      My own experience with cycling around Auckland (Rata St, New Lynn and Lincoln Road (Said to be one of the busiest in the country)) is that four-laning a road won’t make it any safer for cyclists. The cars and trucks will still be 2 to 4 inches away from your handle bars.

  3. mary_a 3

    Ha ha that Jamie-Lee Ross has a sense of humour after all. Stating all Labour is doing re infrastructure is repackaging National projects, is a right hoot. What projects would they be then JLR … after nine years?

    • dukeofurl 3.1

      Even the Holiday highway wasnt completed in the nine years- they cut other safety improvements instead.

  4. Tamati Tautuhi 4

    Problem was the Natzi’s didn’t have a plan ?

    • Draco T Bastard 4.1

      Of course they had a plan. It just didn’t involve actually doing anything except giving government money to their cronies.

  5. CHCOff 5

    Study traffic flows, work with businesses in the areas for alternating business hours through the week. Flexibility and We’re All In This Together are the memes here.

    Put the majority of the saved money into public sports club culture development as a foundational plank for self-governing & high participatory communities.

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