To be a Nat seems to require tunnel vision and the ability to ignore reality. Case in point, National’s fixation with roads. Repeat after John: “Roads are good!”, “Roads are good!”, “Roads are good!”. Except, not so much:
Billions spent on big road projects show poor return
Transport officials have highlighted a dramatic reduction in the cost-efficiency of the Government’s multibillion-dollar spend-up on new highways.
But Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee says he is not concerned about what he expects will turn out to be only a short-term movement, and insists the Government is on track to keep the country moving.
Labour’s transport spokesman, Phil Twyford, has pointed to a graph in a Ministry of Transport briefing paper as evidence of “poor-quality spending” on highways led by the Government’s Roads of National Significance programme.
But Mr Brownlee told the Herald that Mr Twyford was wrong calling changes over a mere two years a trend, and said he was satisfied highway projects planned for Auckland would produce great benefits both for the region and the national economy.
According to the graph, prepared by officials for their incoming minister, approved highway projects expected to yield high economic returns dwindled below 10 per cent in 2009-10 compared with more than 75 per cent two years earlier.
More than 60 per cent were accorded low cost-benefit ratios and about 30 per cent were expected to provide only medium-level returns on investment.
Asked by Mr Twyford in Parliament whether he was concerned by the trend since Labour was last in power in 2008, the minister said he was not. …
“I’m not concerned about those graphs at this point – I don’t think they indicate a worrying trend at all.”
I haven’t seen the report, but maybe the Ministry of Transport can see the blindingly obvious truth that the Nats can’t. Peak oil is here, and the cost of our personal transport is going through the roof. Know what would show better returns for the country than billions on holiday highways? Put the money into public transport. Or schools. Or almost anything else really.
(PS: If you want to know how truly dodgy the Nats’ numbers are on this issue, go read this excellent piece by Rod Oram from 2010.)