web analytics

Steven Joyce and the new Think Big

Written By: - Date published: 12:59 pm, January 29th, 2010 - 18 comments
Categories: transport - Tags: ,

The first half of an excellent piece by Kent Dunston of Save the Basin (which is opposing the construction of flyovers around the Basin Reserve by National):

Back in the halcyon days of the Muldoon administration circa 1979 the then-National government embarked on a series of large-scale interventionist construction schemes called ‘Think Big’ that were designed to transform the economy. The projects ranged from hydro dams to petrochemical plants and were amongst the largest-scale civil engineering works ever undertaken in New Zealand.

This orgy of infrastructure was immensely lucrative for the politically-connected construction firms of the day, but the profligate scheme was funded almost entirely through debt, which in turn contributed to the virtual collapse of New Zealand’s economy by the mid 1980s, thus ushering in the Rogernomics era.

Thirty years later, Transport Minister Steven Joyce is hell-bent on repeating the same failed experiment. Rather than petrochemicals and electricity generation, he’s intent on throwing $11 billion into New Zealand’s roading infrastructure again largely to the benefit of a few politically-connected construction firms.

National's white elephant motorways, $11 billion & one peak oil later

Here in Wellington we’re on the receiving end of Joyce’s Road of National Significance, a four-lane monster highway running from Levin to the Airport. The project will cost billions more than budgeted once the inevitable cost over-runs have occurred, will slice through heritage areas, destroy homes and disrupt communities. And the Minister now admits that key sections Transmission Gully, the Terrace Tunnel, the second Mt Victoria tunnel don’t make any economic sense, even with the best creative accounting from the NZ Transport Agency.

– the rest of the piece is here. [hat-tip, Clarke]

18 comments on “Steven Joyce and the new Think Big ”

  1. George D 1

    Silence is usually a sign that everyone agrees.

    So, we’re all agreed then? No need for more pointless spending on roads? Or do we still like to think that roads are good when they’re the roads that we want?

  2. RedLogix 2

    It’s one thing to get wound up about some political, specifically personal stupidity… like Hide’s astounding expenses rort…but when faced with a stupidity of this impersonally massive dimension, it’s like one of the alien craft from “District Nine” actually floating there in the sky before you.

    A gobsmacked silence is the only dignified response.

    • Armchair Critic 2.1

      “A gobsmacked silence is the only dignified response.”
      No it’s not. Laughter, contempt, protest, argument, but not silence. These plans are ridiculous.

  3. George D 3

    There’s also the gold-plated Holiday Highway, with a $1.4billion solution to a $150million problem (bypassing Warkworth). The BCR on that one is pretty awful.

    Must be pretty good times if you’re one of National’s friends owning a large construction company….

  4. millsy 4

    Its PC to attack ‘Think Big’ these days.

    But the reality is, if it wasant for the Clyde Dam, our power generation system would be a lot more fragile than it is now.

    • Morgan 4.1

      Would you care to define PC?

    • Clarke 4.2

      Yes, but the context of the article is that Muldoon nearly sent the country broke making a bunch of “investments” that produced no economic return for the country. Clyde Dam might have had merit on its own, but there’s no arguing with the fact that the whole Think Big debacle made no fiscal sense. And the same argument does seem to apply to Joyce’s roading spend-up.

  5. millsy 5

    well, its certainly not PC to build state owned infrastructure such as hydro dams, oil refineries, power stations, etc.

    • Clarke 5.1

      An equally valid assessment is that you should never trust a National government with infrastructure investments as they have a proven record of incompetence and pork-barrelling.

  6. Outofbed 6

    So since we are just about at peak oil and the cost of fuel is only going to go one way
    The building of these large road schemes is about as silly as you can get.
    I notice they are going to spend a ton of dosh in Canterbury extending the southern motorway etc. Having just spent a very enjoyable few months in Christchurch, one of things that I noticed was how low the traffic volumes were. hey for about an hour a day
    there might be slight problems here and there. but nothing of the scale of European cities. I think that instead of heavily subsidising the trucking industry we should look more into developing coastal shipping which is the most cost effective way of moving freight around
    Here is a study commissioned by the New Zealand Transport Agency on freight transport in New Zealand, including an analysis of the prospects for coastal shipping.


    • Draco T Bastard 6.1

      If it was commissioned by the NZTA then why do we have to pay for it?

      And why was it removed from the NZTA website?

  7. ropata 7

    The Think Big projects were constructed during the oil shocks of the seventies and made economic sense at the time. Then oil became ridiculously cheap again and grand projects such as Marsden Point suddenly were superfluous. But somehow every one of the Think Big projects is in use today and contributing to the economy.

    Jordan Carter: aNew Zealand suffers from a “think small” syndrome.

    This is the opposite to Think Big, which was not a New Zealand syndrome but a Robert Muldoon / Bill Birch / Jim Bolger / National Government syndrome.

    Think Small is most obvious in our infrastructure planning and development.

    * Who would have thought we would be in a situation as a developed country where a lack of rain could conceivably lead to power shortages in winter time?
    * How strange is it that a lack of investment in Transpower means the national electricity grid is often under serious pressure?
    * What kind of developed country would truly not regulate its dominant incumbent telco provider to deliver fast broadband affordably and well?
    * Why does Auckland not have – note have, not consider building – a mass transit system to complement its motorways? And given that it doesn’t have one, why don’t we invest $20bn over the next ten years to make it happen?
    * Why do we allow traffic congestion choke points to exist in our major cities?

    • Draco T Bastard 7.1

      The Think Big projects were constructed during the oil shocks of the seventies and made economic sense at the time.

      That’s only partially correct. There was more happening at the time that also would have had an impact and which would, IMO, have made the Think Big projects less economically sound. Most notably would have been our falling terms of trade, Britain joining the EEC etc etc. The only way they would have been economically sound would have been if we maintained or grew our exports which we didn’t do at the time.

    • millsy 7.2

      Hear hear Ropata.

      Unfortunately subsequent governments sold most of the TB assets, most into foriegn ownership for a fraction of the amount we paid for them in the first place.

      • Clarke 7.2.1

        Clearly the assets weren’t worth anything near what they cost to build – which rather underlines Muldoon’s complete incompetence, and reinforces the point that their construction should have undergone proper cost-benefit analysis, rather than National Party pork-barrelling.

        Based on their track record, the National Party shouldn’t be trusted with the petty cash tin, let alone billions of dollars of hard-earned taxpayer money.

    • Clarke 7.3

      The Think Big projects were constructed during the oil shocks of the seventies and made economic sense at the time.

      How do you know that they made economic sense when Muldoon never released the construction costs for any of the projects? We do know, however, that the Clyde Dam ran years and many millions of dollars over budget, so that must make a pretty big hole in the cost/benefit analysis …

      Why does Auckland not have note have, not consider building a mass transit system to complement its motorways? And given that it doesn’t have one, why don’t we invest $20bn over the next ten years to make it happen?

      Because Steven Joyce is busy pissing all the money away in nonsensical roading projects so that he and John Key can get to their holiday homes faster.

      Why do we allow traffic congestion choke points to exist in our major cities?

      Because the traffic planning morons at the NZ Transport Agency keep building roads instead of investing in public transport, and Steven Joyce is aiding and abetting them.

      There’s nothing wrong with building large-scale infrastructure projects, but it is doomed to failure when you leave a National Party ideologue like the bottom-feeding pork-barrelling dinosaur Steven Joyce in charge.

  8. The thing is that spending $11 billion on building motorways only makes sense when oil prices are NOT particularly high. In 2008 we saw 10% declines in traffic across much of the roading network when petrol passed $2 a litre. So Joyce clearly hasn’t learned from Muldoon’s mistake – he just expects oil to remain cheap whereas Muldoon expected it to remain expensive.

    I am incredibly suspicious of Joyce’s connections with the roads lobby. Every public transport gain since the 2008 election has been hard-fought – just to retain the status quo (electrification, integrated ticketing, funding for railway stations etc.) whereas Joyce effectively approves billion dollar roading projects on the spot. There’s something highly dodgy going on.

    • Clarke 8.1

      There’s something highly dodgy going on.

      You mean, aside from the trucking lobby attempting to purchase politicians?

      Or perhaps that’s an overly cynical view – there’s also a chance that Joyce is the same sort of deluded fool that Muldoon was, and genuinely thinks that what he’s doing is in the best interests of the country, despite all the evidence to the contrary.

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Tokelau Language Week reminds us to stay united and strong
    Staying strong in the face of challenges and being true to our heritage and languages are key to preserving our cultural identity and wellbeing, is the focus of the 2020 Tokelau Language Week. Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio, says this year’s theme, ‘Apoapo tau foe, i nā tāfea ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • NZ announces a third P-3 deployment in support of UN sanctions
    The Government has deployed a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion (P-3) maritime patrol aircraft to support the implementation of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions imposing sanctions against North Korea, announced Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters and Minister of Defence Ron Mark. “New Zealand has long supported ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Pacific trade and development agreement a reality
    Pacific regional trade and development agreement PACER Plus will enter into force in 60 days now that the required eight countries have ratified it. Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker welcomed the announcement that the Cook Islands is the eighth nation to ratify this landmark agreement. “The agreement represents ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Securing a pipeline of teachers
    The Government is changing its approach to teacher recruitment as COVID-19 travel restrictions continue, by boosting a range of initiatives to get more Kiwis into teaching. “When we came into Government, we were faced with a teacher supply crisis,” Education Minister Chris Hipkins said. “Over the past three years, we ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Border exceptions for a small number of international students with visas
    The Government has established a new category that will allow 250 international PhD and postgraduate students to enter New Zealand and continue their studies, in the latest set of border exceptions. “The health, safety and wellbeing of people in New Zealand remains the Government’s top priority. Tight border restrictions remain ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • First COVID-19 vaccine purchase agreement signed
    The Government has signed an agreement to purchase 1.5 million COVID-19 vaccines – enough for 750,000 people – from Pfizer and BioNTech, subject to the vaccine successfully completing all clinical trials and passing regulatory approvals in New Zealand, say Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods and Health Minister Chris Hipkins. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • International statement – End-to-end encryption and public safety
    We, the undersigned, support strong encryption, which plays a crucial role in protecting personal data, privacy, intellectual property, trade secrets and cyber security.  It also serves a vital purpose in repressive states to protect journalists, human rights defenders and other vulnerable people, as stated in the 2017 resolution of the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Ministry of Defence Biodefence Assessment released
    The Ministry of Defence has today released a Defence Assessment examining Defence’s role across the spectrum of biological hazards and threats facing New Zealand. Biodefence: Preparing for a New Era of Biological Hazards and Threats looks at how the NZDF supports other agencies’ biodefence activities, and considers the context of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • New Approaches to Economic Challenges: Confronting Planetary Emergencies: OECD 9 October 2020
    New Approaches to Economic Challenges: Confronting Planetary Emergencies: OECD 9 October 2020 Hon David Parker’s response following Thomas Piketty and Esther Duflo. Good morning, good afternoon, and good evening, wherever in the world you might be. I first acknowledge the excellent thought provoking speeches of Thomas Piketty and Esther ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Kaipara Moana restoration takes next step
    A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed today at Waihāua Marae between the Crown, local iwi and councils to protect, restore and enhance the mauri of Kaipara Moana in Northland. Environment Minister David Parker signed the document on behalf of the Crown along with representatives from Ngā Maunga Whakahī, Ngāti ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • New Zealand and Uruguay unite on reducing livestock production emissions
    Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor and Uruguayan Minister of Livestock, Agriculture and Fisheries Carlos María Uriarte have welcomed the launch of a three-year project that will underpin sustainable livestock production in Uruguay, Argentina, and Costa Rica.  The project called ‘Innovation for pasture management’ is led by Uruguay’s National Institute of Agricultural ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • 3100 jobs created through marae upgrades
    Hundreds of marae throughout the country will be upgraded through investments from the Provincial Growth Fund’s refocused post COVID-19 funding to create jobs and put money into the pockets of local tradespeople and businesses, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones and Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta have announced. “A total ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Health volunteers recognised in annual awards
    Health Minister Chris Hipkins has announced 9 teams and 14 individuals are the recipients of this year’s Minister of Health Volunteer Awards.  “The health volunteer awards celebrate and recognise the thousands of dedicated health sector volunteers who give many hours of their time to help other New Zealanders,” Mr Hipkins ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Community COVID-19 Fund supports Pacific recovery
    The Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio says a total of 264 groups and individuals have successfully applied for the Pacific Aotearoa Community COVID-19 Recovery Fund, that will support Pacific communities drive their own COVID-19 recovery strategies, initiatives, and actions. “I am keen to see this Fund support Pacific ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Community benefits from Māori apprenticeships
    Up to 50 Māori apprentices in Wellington will receive paid training to build houses for their local communities, thanks to a $2.75 million investment from the Māori Trades and Training Fund, announced Employment Minister Willie Jackson today. “This funding will enable Ngāti Toa Rangatira Incorporated to provide its Ngā Kaimahi ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Training fund supports Māori jobseekers
    Rapidly growing sectors will benefit from a $990,000 Māori Trades and Training Fund investment which will see Wellington jobseekers supported into work, announced Employment Minister Willie Jackson today. “This funding will enable Sapphire Consultants Ltd. to help up to 45 Māori jobseekers into paid training initiatives over two years through ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Ruakura Inland Port development vital infrastructure for Waikato
    The Government is investing $40 million to develop an inland port at Ruakura which will become a freight super-hub and a future business, research and residential development for the Waikato, Urban Development and Transport Minister Phil Twyford, and Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta announced today. The funding has been has ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Appointments made to Defence Expert Review Group
    Defence Minister Ron Mark announced today the establishment of an Expert Review Group to review a number of aspects of the New Zealand Defence Force’s (NZDF) structure, information management and record-keeping processes.  The Expert Review Group’s work arises out of the first recommendation from the Report of the Government’s Inquiry ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • No active community cases of COVID-19
    There are no active community cases of COVID-19 remaining in the country after the last people from the recent outbreak have recovered from the virus, Health Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “This is a big milestone. New Zealanders have once again through their collective actions squashed the virus. The systems ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Clean energy upgrade for more public buildings
    More public buildings will be supported by the Government to upgrade to run on clean energy, the Minister for Climate Change James Shaw announced today. Minister Shaw announced that Lincoln and Auckland universities will receive support through the Clean-Powered Public Service Fund to replace fossil fuel boilers. Southern, Taranaki, and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago