National’s latest policy: MOAR ROADS

Written By: - Date published: 9:44 am, July 31st, 2023 - 51 comments
Categories: Christopher Luxon, climate change, david parker, Environment, national, public transport, same old national, science, transport - Tags:

As Canada burns, Spain boils, the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation stalls and threatens an ice age in northern Europe, and ice disappears in the Arctic responsible political leadership should be pressing the emergency button on climate change.

There are a few tried and trusted methods, increased public transport and reduced private car use by getting more people to walk and cycle to get places.

Building roads is the worst possible thing that you can do.  The phenomenon known as induced demand concludes that there are short term benefits but that long term people change the way they behave and drive more.

This satirical clip describes the phenomenon well.

So what does National do?  Does it decide on the acceleration of the roll out of public transport and walking and cycling projects?  Does it strengthen regional rail and coastal sipping?

Or does it do the worst thing possible?

You guessed it, National’s policy is MOAR ROADS!.

Yesterday it announced its intent to construct four motorways from Whangarei to Tauranga.  In the middle of a climate crisis it wants us to drive more.  A bigger middle finger to climate scientists and young people who will have to deal with this crisis as it unfolds cannot be imagined.

And it looks like their figures on how much the project will cost are woefully optimistic.

From the Herald:

[Transport Minister David] Parker said last night: “The costs are as woefully light, as is their explanation of how they will fund these roads – the cost will be many hundreds of millions if not billions of dollars more than they are admitting,” he told TVNZ.

He described the data as old and “laughable at best”.

Despite Luxon’s claims on prices for infrastructure, official figures obtained by 1News demonstrate that National’s expense estimates are far too low.

For example, National estimates the cost of Warkworth to Wellsford at $2.2b, but officials suggest it might cost up to $4b.

Given recent news about land stability issues for the Puhoi to Warkworth motorway the costings do need to treated skeptically.

And how will National fund this you may ask.  It has announced that it will scrap the get Wellington moving project while at the same time commit to a second Mount Victoria Tunnel at a cost of $2.2 billion. It has previously cut the road resurfacing and maintenance budgets and this is one of the reasons we are seeing so many potholes.

National’s priorities are clear.  Any project designed to reduce emissions or increase safety will be hammered so that it can engage in its road fetish.

51 comments on “National’s latest policy: MOAR ROADS ”

  1. Alan 1

    Cars will not run on petrol and diesel in the very near future, but they will still need roads .

    • mickysavage 1.1

      There won't be as many of them. We can't afford the sunk carbon cost in manufacturing all of them.

      • James Simpson 1.1.1

        That's a very confident statement.

        But I don't see any credible prediction that our use of personal vehicles is going to decrease in the medium future.

        As well as EVs, next generation hydrogen energy is on our doorstep. There is currently a massive project underway between an iwi group the Tuaropaki Trust, and Obayashi Corporation to create a hydrogen energy supply chain in New Zealand.

        Then look at the vehicles coming on the market Hydrogen Car

        The green revolution still needs safe roads. The trip between Cambridge and Tauranga is currently one of life's scariest things. Time to fix it.

    • mikesh 1.2

      They will still need electricity. How much pressure will that place on the grid.

    • Thinker 1.3

      As more people move to vehicles as a service (autonomous vehicles) don't confuse an increasing number of trips with an increasing number of vehicles. As the former grows, the latter will shrink.

      Not in the 'very near future' you speak of, but well within the expected life of a new motorway.

    • grafton gully 1.4

      Exxon Mobil CEO Darren Woods: "We're going to see record high oil demand this year." doesn't fit with "Cars will not run on petrol and diesel in the very near future"

      • joe90 1.4.1

        "Cars will not run on petrol and diesel in the very near future"

        Yet Dazza's putting money each way.


        Exxon Mobil CEO Darren Woods confirmed the Western major’s interest in lithium brine mining after months of silence amid reports of early-stage moves in the US onshore.

        “We're … actively exploring that opportunity set and like what we're seeing so far,” Woods told analysts on Exxon’s second-quarter earnings call on Friday after he was prodded to comment on his firm’s participation in this space.

      • roblogic 1.4.2

        The oil companies expect to hit max output capacity in the near term – global demand is infinite

        NZ will be at the back of the queue

  2. Sanctuary 2

    National are completely captured by the trucking and farming lobbies and as a bonus their evangelical culture warriors get to own the libs on greener transport options. I actually think they are happy to burn the planet down to win their culture war in the expectation that either the rapture will save them or Sir Peter Isherwell has a spot for them on his spaceship, and in the meantime their mates will continue to make a fortune.

    • mickysavage 2.1

      Heh. Well said …

    • Chris 2.2

      Yes to everything you say. Will it make any difference? No. Why? Because Labour doesn't communicate with whom it purports to serve, and the natz will give the ignorant general populace everything they want if it means getting elected.

    • Shanreagh 2.3

      Brilliant Sanc. I keep forgetting about The Rapture and it still being a 'thing' even though the anti vaxxers have gone silent.

      We will do well not to forget about the prosperity church/gospels that can be used to screw everyone else. A worrying part of the Nacts, and we have a few on the left but they seem controlled/contained or maybe not as florid as the Nacts.

    • Patricia Bremner 2.4

      Yes "Magical thinking"….

  3. PsyclingLeft.Always 3

    Tauranga. One of the most car-dependent cities in NZ

    Apparently they dont like using Public Transport..and seemingly would sooner wait (in traffic jams) on "New Bigger Highways" .

    Commuters are frustrated by increasing traffic jams, seen as "worse than Auckland", with 77 percent of city dwellers citing congestion as a big problem, compared to just 40 percent in Auckland, 25 percent in Wellington, and 19 percent in Christchurch.

    Hard to fix that mindset. Been many proposals put to get people out of their cars. Hard to say what will ever work.

  4. PsyclingLeft.Always 4

    Tauranga's 1.7km highway link cost blows out to $300m

    The 1.7km stretch is shaping up as one of the most expensive and longest-running ever of highway projects.

    The new forecast of $292m is up from $262m a year ago, almost three times the original 2015 estimate, and twice what it was put at in 2020.

    So in just 3 years…the cost doubled? Fark. Puts the Nats $ 6 Billion in a new light !

    • dv 4.1

      Transmission gully cost was about 44m per km

      That means 360km is abt 16 billion not 6b

      • PsyclingLeft.Always 4.1.1

        And when looking at this

        Waka Kotahi insists the country's newest road is built to last despite a major slip

        You gotta wonder. Esp when…

        However, NZTA has a track record of talking up new roads, then having to go back and fix them, expensively, such as on the Waikato and Kāpiti expressways, or arguing with contractors over extra costs and overruns such as at Transmission Gully which, like Pūhoi, was a public-private partnership (PPP).


        As for pushing the highway on to Wellsford in the next phase, it "doesn't get any easier when you head north – indeed if they do the next section there will be many areas that are much worse".

        Nats reckon $ 6 Billion for MOAR Roads? $16 Billion might not even cover…

        • lprent

          My parents had a 88 acre mostly weekend farm in the hills above Puhio. When I was doing a earth sciences degree in the late 70s, I realised that the whole area from Silverdale to Bryderwyns was geologically unstable at the clay level.

          Lots of serpentine minerals in weathering made them really susceptible to slithering off slopes when ever moisture levels increased because of a inherent lack of ionic bonding. Plus, the whole region has a classic block faulted morphology. Not exactly a good area for building new roads in. The place simply doesn't settle for a long time after earthworks.

          And that clay was awful for traction. We used to have access with a dirt ridge line road into the farm. Until it got gravelled it and the little slips stopped, it was mostly impassable to 4 wheel drive land rovers and tractors for at least 4-5 months of every year. You'd get on to any slope and the wheels just couldn't get any purchase. Anything you laid on the road would just slip out from under wheels.

          • PsyclingLeft.Always

   always, cant go far past informed Local Knowledge : )

            Sadly…very often ignored. Thanks for reply.

      • Ad 4.1.2

        City Rail Link works out at about $1.5 billion per kilometer and rising.

        So don't even get started about light rail in a tunnel as an alternative to motorways.

  5. Drowsy M. Kram 5

    "MOAR ROADS" means MOAR POTHOLES – have the Nats thought this through?
    Their 'back to the future' tax ____, ____ camps and ____ roads droppings are a bit whiffy wink

  6. Blazer 6

    National are so predictable…will people fall for the usual…again!

    'Get NZ back on ….housing crack'!

  7. Mike the Lefty 7

    National promising the electorate a bitumen, cement and steel fix in return for the votes.

    Roads are the drug that everyone wants, and will gladly sell their vote for.

    • Michael P 7.1

      That's democracy and it's not selling your vote, people in a democracy you would think mostly vote for whichever party they think has the best set of policies. While it has it's flaws, it's so far proving to be infinitely better than tyranny, dictatorship, authoritarianism, communism, or any of the other ideas for government systems and ideologies people have come up with over the years. Which is why the liberal democracies and democratic republics mainly in what we call the West always completely dominate polls of the most desirable countries in the world to live in.

      Trouble is, it only works (in so much as it works) with the consent of the minority and their acceptance of the fact that in a democracy, the majority rules.

      If you don't want people to have cars, then you need to come up with a persuasive argument (persuasive, not dictatorial) that enables your idea to gain a majority of the population in favor.

      The fact that Kiwis love their cars and there is no sign of that changing is simply a sign of lack of a better option and more persuasive story coming from those who don't want people driving cars.

  8. Ad 8

    National are proposing a full busway into west Auckland – which was promised by Twyford in 2017.

    National are proposing more tolled roads and congestion charging – agreed by all sides of Parliament a while ago.

    National are proposing at-grade light rail through Auckland isthmus, and trackless trams from Panmure to Botany and Manukau.

    National initiated all the big projects that finished 2022 or 2023. And they started CRL in 2016 with Len Brown. They may even be in power to open it in 2025.

    In the medium sized ones Labour initiated, I was at the Beaumont Bridge opening yesterday with over 1500 people, and no Minister or Associate showed.

    Also if Wood hadn't backed down we would be opening a Harbour Bridge cyvleway about now.

    Can't wait to see Labour's plan.

    • Belladonna 8.1

      Have both friends and colleagues out in West Auckland.
      They are infuriated by the busway from Te Atatu not yet being open…. Apparently it's scheduled for November (though it's been an ever-moving feast of delays). Which is after the election.

      Yes, Yes, I know. WK and AT – but the Minister of Transport hasn't exactly been visibly driving them to get it done.

      • Sanctuary 8.1.1

        Labour's inactivity and seeming powerlessness seems bizarre, until you realise that our centrist Labour operates on the premise that centre left/left ideas are obnoxious to the majority of ordinary decent hard working people as defined by Newstalk ZB. I think Labour genuinely thinks that the media and corporate elites will only reluctantly tolerate them as an alternative to the right on the condition that they present themselves as more reliable defenders of the status quo and as a government who are too timid to rock the boat. Than means they have to regularly disappoint and fail to deliver to their supporters for the edification of the media and corporate elites.

        If you keep that in mind, constantly punching themselve in the face can always be appreciated as "competent" leadership, conveying their utter commitment to "prudent government", and their desire for "power".

        Labour feels it must always run against itself to be electable.

        • Shanreagh

          You're on a roll today….another beauty.


          '…..constantly punching themselves in the face…'

    • observer 8.2

      National voted against congestion charges in Parliament, and though they are in favour in theory, they have gone very quiet lately.

      As always, the slogans don't matter, only the details do. Can anyone link to National's actual election policy on congestion charges?

      It seems more like their fake commitment on climate change. Say the words, then do nothing.

      (Edit: this is National’s policy, from the horse’s mouth. No mention)

  9. tc 9

    Watch their media mates do SFA critical analysis of any angle you like whilst they run with rumours on what govt may do over GST because national said so.

    Pack of owned hacks.

  10. arkie 10

    A timely analysis of the real cost of driving:

    A team of graduate students at the Harvard Kennedy School estimate that the annual price tag for maintaining Massachusetts’ car economy is roughly $64.1 billion, with more than half of that coming from public funds. While they didn’t perform an analysis for all the states, the group notes that the cost structure would be similar.

    “This is a huge number,” said the paper’s lead author, Stevie Olson, M.P.P. ’20. “It’s unexpected because the majority of drivers, citizens, consumers experience roads for free. You just drive out your parking lot, your driveway, and you’re on the road. No one’s charging you, but there’s all of these costs that are both public costs, indirect externalities that are also costs, and then private costs that people are incurring.”

    The paper, which the students wrote as part of an applied lab course, found that costs are diffused across a number of areas and involve things people don’t often consider. Beyond those for individual drivers, road maintenance, snow removal, and policing, there are less-obvious ones, such as those associated with added pollution, value of land set aside for parking lots, lost productivity from sitting in traffic, and various costs associated with injuries and deaths on the road.

    Using publicly available data, the authors put the annual public tab at $35.7 billion, which amounts to about $14,000 for every household in the state. Those that do own vehicles pony up an additional $12,000 on average in direct costs.

    The authors say their goal is to demonstrate the total costs of driving so that information can be used for comparison when held up against other types of transit investments, like bus, subway, and train systems.

  11. observer 11

    And of course now there's the daily National "clarification" … the policy is already dying.

    It's all very well getting these "clarifications" but they only come after all the publicity gained from the original announcement. How about sending journalists instead of photocopiers to these announcements? "Clarifications" won't do much good after October.

  12. pat 12

    So we have a choice…..more roads, or more inaction with an apartheid bent..(the later likely the reason for the former)

    No wonder it is easy to disengage

    • Drowsy M. Kram 12.1

      So we have a choice…..more roads, or more inaction with an apartheid bent

      If that was an accurate characterisaton of our choice, then I'd vote for "Moar Roads".

      But I won't be voting for "Moar Roads", which begs some questions…

      Rugby union and apartheid
      Racially selected New Zealand sports teams toured South Africa, until the 1970 All Blacks rugby tour allowed Māori to enter the country under the status of "honorary whites".

      No one is getting any younger sad

  13. adam 13

    I needed a laugh,

    Thank you God for our bloody useless Tory's .

  14. newsense 14

    No Right Turns take: shame on them for just not getting it on climate change.

    Not something Labour is saying but they damn well should be. As well as the 2.6 billion hole there is the cost from our Paris agreement bill and from consumers who notice fossil awards. As well as $4 billion dollars worth in Auckland from one extreme weather event. Who knows what in opportunity cost and private loss- as we saw this week the insurance industry is not a charity and is not keen to pay out even what they owe.

    Someone should be hammering this home- to Chippy too. We do our part. We don’t shirk. We sent our troops away. We took moral stands against nuclear testing. This is the National party not turning up to an urgent global joint action and committing taxpayers to pay the fines and costs further down the track.

    Labour is supporting this with its binning of some climate change policy and its cowardice in its treatment of the carbon market. It makes it easier for National to downplay the need for action, for us to pretend it’s the 90s.

  15. arkie 15

    Great youtube channel Not Just Bikes has published this video recently about the importance of urban design, sense of place and how car-centric planning undermines the very things people value:
    Duration: 11 minutes

  16. Ad 16

    Tolling more motorways is surely a direct pricing signal against frivolous national travel, and frivolous national freight.

    Clearly our state has neither fuel tax nor ordinary tax are enough to deliver a road or rail system that is strong enough to withstand climate change.

    Otherwise we wouldn't need to keep rebuilding massive chunks of SH1 and main trunk rail.

    So maybe it is time for the private sector to be invited in to build, own, toll, and operate motorways. At least the private funders and operators of Puhoi-Wellsford and Transmission Gully are on the hook to always make their transport routes available.

    Really those are the options.

    • adam 16.1

      Coastal and river freight.

      Not like we have not got lots of both.

      Yes I get the west coast is difficult, but in places it's fine.

      • Ad 16.1.1

        Just no.

        The two biggest rivers we have, the Waikato and the Clutha, have been rendered unavailable to freight through multiple dams. None of the others matter.

        No one is proposing bringing back the NZ Shipping Company. Because roads are faster for most bulk, and the higher-value goods use air freight. We are struggling to operate just 2 ferries across SH1.

        • adam

          I'm suggesting we may not have very many other options.

          Roads and Rail are not going to survive many more disasters coming down the line with a boiling earth.

  17. arkie 17

    National just aren't making sensible policies that accept reality:

    Given the observable realities of the climate crisis, many have questioned the logic of leaning into road expansion as a policy, especially at the expense of efficient public transport.

    National's plan to build more roads rather than focus on better public transport is reminiscent of transport policies from the 1950s and 1960s. That era saw the construction of the car-centric cities we now struggle to maintain and move around in.

    That era also moved us closer to climate disaster, and generally made transport less efficient and less equitable. In hindsight, massive roading infrastructure projects weren't the solution they might have seemed 70 years ago. But they have at least provided a lesson in what not to do today.

  18. Tricledrown 18

    The Wellsford to Whangarei 4 lane high way National have reheated and now pushing will be a financial disaster . The problem is massive slips on continously moving land compounded by heavy downpours .The cost of slip proofing will be $billions.Ongoing repairs $billions.National are determined to go ahead with this stupid extremely costly holiday highway .Not unlike Muldoon's go ahead with the Clyde dam original cost $400 million finished cost $2.4 billion 6 times the original cost.Why because Muldoon wanted his Dam built a high Dam.which produces no more power than the 2 low Dams Labour was going to build at $250 million 1/10 the final cost.National are lying about the cost of building the highway on slip prone land.No contingency for that cost in Nationals proposal!

  19. The Chairman 19

    Building roads is the worst possible thing that you can do.

    Not necessarily. There is the uptake of electric vehicles. Buses, delivery/service vehicles and emergency vehicles that all require roads. Then there are also tourists and a growing number of elderly that like to campervan around the country.

    Couple the above with our ageing population, our growing population and the geographic layout of our population (with many small spread out rural towns making public transport nonviable) there will be an ever growing demand.

    Additionally, the country is largely playing catch up when it comes to roading and roading safety. Therefore, what we currently have is insufficient.

  20. Mike the Lefty 20

    A press release by Clive Matthew-Wilson, editor of the Dog and Lemon Guide which, if you are unfamiliar with it, is a book of car performance reviews plus interesting information about makes, models, the car industry and other relevant stuff.'s-pledge-fix-roads-won't-work

  21. Shanreagh 21

    If you are the Nats and want Moar Roads I don't see why they have to be tarsealed.

    I mean back in the day before many days before, all the roads were gravel and the fact that you were a 'worthy' was signalled by the small piece of tarseal that went along past the entrance. This gave non worthies the time to do a bit of forelock tugging (obsequious or overly deferential behaviour) as they went by.

    If they did this again it would solve the pothole problem as potholes would only need to be filled in the tarsealed patch, speeds would lower as we juddered our way from town to town.

    This would mean that there would be more $$$$$ to build new roads and admire the first cut of a bulldozed track up unstable or flood prone areas.

    I think the Nats get off on roads per se, anything that can have a petrol or diesel engine drive over it, rather than the smell of tarseal, though that is a potent drug to the roadbuilders.



    • PsyclingLeft.Always 21.1

      And of course the obligatory Ranger ute. V8 of course. : )

      And of course hell for the “woke” in/on their E vehicles. : )

  22. SPC 22

    National have yet to cost the impact of heavier trucks on roads as per maintenance and or redo work at an earlier time frame.

    They could build roads to the standard required to cope with heavier trucks, or otherwise designate roads as in second or third class condition and to be used by 4 wheel drive vehicles only (or allow others to charge the government for repair cost to their smaller EV or hybrids).

    Tweet for truth the neo cannot handle.

  23. PsyclingLeft.Always 23

    There absolutely need to be fresh thinking.

    Professor Alan Renwick

    It's time to rethink

    The NAct Dino's..will just continue with their Dinosaur thinking…using Dino fuel…As our Planet burns and floods. Its their go-to .

    Sadly..IMO, most people could give a fuck. Proven. How to change that? There is the problem…

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    5 days ago
  • COVID-19 Inquiry terms of reference consultation results received
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    6 days ago
  • The Pacific family of nations – the changing security outlook
    Foreign Minister, Defence Minister, other Members of Parliament Acting Chief of Defence Force, Secretary of Defence Distinguished Guests  Defence and Diplomatic Colleagues  Ladies and Gentlemen,  Good afternoon, tēna koutou, apinun tru    It’s a pleasure to be back in Port Moresby today, and to speak here at the Kumul Leadership ...
    6 days ago
  • NZ and Papua New Guinea to work more closely together
    Health, infrastructure, renewable energy, and stability are among the themes of the current visit to Papua New Guinea by a New Zealand political delegation, Foreign Minister Winston Peters says.   “Papua New Guinea carries serious weight in the Pacific, and New Zealand deeply values our relationship with it,” Mr Peters ...
    6 days ago
  • Driving ahead with Roads of Regional Significance
    The coalition Government is launching Roads of Regional Significance to sit alongside Roads of National Significance as part of its plan to deliver priority roading projects across the country, Transport Minister Simeon Brown says.  “The Roads of National Significance (RoNS) built by the previous National Government are some of New Zealand’s ...
    6 days ago
  • New Zealand congratulates new Solomon Islands government
    A high-level New Zealand political delegation in Honiara today congratulated the new Government of Solomon Islands, led by Jeremiah Manele, on taking office.    “We are privileged to meet the new Prime Minister and members of his Cabinet during his government’s first ten days in office,” Deputy Prime Minister and ...
    7 days ago
  • New Zealand supports UN Palestine resolution
    New Zealand voted in favour of a resolution broadening Palestine’s participation at the United Nations General Assembly overnight, Foreign Minister Winston Peters says.    “The resolution enhances the rights of Palestine to participate in the work of the UN General Assembly while stopping short of admitting Palestine as a full ...
    1 week ago
  • Speech to the 2024 Infrastructure Symposium
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    1 week ago
  • $571 million for Defence pay and projects
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    1 week ago
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    1 week ago
  • Getting new job seekers on the pathway to work
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    1 week ago
  • Accelerating Social Investment
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    1 week ago
  • Getting Back on Track
    Check against delivery Good morning. It is a pleasure to be with you to outline the Coalition Government’s approach to our first Budget. Thank you Mark Skelly, President of the Hutt Valley Chamber of Commerce, together with  your Board and team, for hosting me.   I’d like to acknowledge His Worship ...
    1 week ago
  • NZ – European Union ties more critical than ever
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    2 weeks ago
  • Therapeutic Products Act to be repealed
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    2 weeks ago

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