Normally, $9 million in government spending is such a puny amount it’s not worth covering but as Key has nailed his crediblity to the success of his cycleways, let’s crunch some numbers.
These seven tracks will supposedly cost $9 million to build and create 280 jobs (only 140 in the near future). Other details, including how much length of actual new cycleway (ie. not just putting up signs beside a road) will be built are thin, in typical Key style.
So, $9 million. Let’s be conservative and take just half of that for materials, equipment etc. Leaves $4.5 million for wages. $16K per worker? Hmm, either these are very low pay jobs or they’re not going to last long. Most likely, both.
Also, how the hell do you buy any decent length corridors of land with just $9 million? Oh, you don’t. See, most of it is going to be built on DoC land. The conservation estate turned over for Key’s daydream. DoC will probably be lumped with the maintance costs too (where’s the money going to come from? Not budgeted?). A couple of the cycleways are described as ‘rail trails’, does this mean the land is owned by Ontrack? That’s an SOE. Is it supposed to simply give away all that land? Maybe they’ll take a peppercorn. Whatever happens there’ll be a huge hidden cost.
Having failed to deliver the thousands of jobs he promised for building the cycleways, Key’s now promising they’ll deliver thousands once they’re built on maintanence and supporting businesses. Rubbish. The Otago Rail Trail apparently supports 75 jobs (only during the high season, shhh, don’t say that too loudly) and is worth $7.5 million a year but you can’t simply up-scale those numbers.
New cycleway won’t suddenly generate lots of new cyclists out of the blue, anymore than me opening a new dairy would create more demand in the dairy market. For the most part, the new cycleways will take part of the existing market, either from the Otago rail trail or other tourism activities. Laying down some gravel and putting up some signs is not going to create an industry generating hundreds of millions of dollars and employing thousands. Sorry.
Key has completely overegged this whole project. Rather than doing anything substantive about the recession, he’s been spending his time on this and the result is typical Key – all promise, no delivery.