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The Government’s $12 billion infrastructure package

Written By: - Date published: 11:33 am, January 29th, 2020 - 96 comments
Categories: auckland supercity, labour, national, public transport, sustainability, transport - Tags:

The details of the Government’s $12 billion infrastructure announcement have been released. 

There are more roading projects than I like.  We should be building light rail and walkways and cycleways and pouring as much as we can into these areas.  But there is a significant spend on rail and on cycle projects, in particular the Auckland Harbour Bridge Skypath.  There is budget to allow some schools to get rid of coal fired boilers.  But projects such as Penlink which is a really underwhelming motorway project are also funded.

Bernard Orsman at the Herald has the details:

KEY POINTS:

• $6.8b for transport projects in Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Wellington, Canterbury, Queenstown
• $1.1b for rail, including more than $900m for projects in Auckland
• $2.2b for new roads in Auckland, including Penlink, widening SH1 from Papakura to Drury, Mill Rd four-lane highway
• Auckland Harbour Bridge ‘SkyPath’ for pedestrians and cyclists confirmed

A number of big roading projects are part of the Government’s $12 billion infrastructure package unveiled today.

After a two-year hiatus, the Government has given the green light to several four-lane highways, including SH1 from Whangarei to Port Marsden, Mill Rd in South Auckland, widening SH1 from Papakura to Drury, the Tauranga Northern Link and SH1 from Otaki to north of Levin.

The package also includes $1.1b for rail, including electrification from Papakura to Pukekohe, a third rail line in South Auckland, two new rail stations in Drury Central and Drury West and upgrades in Wellington and the Wairarapa.

Work on the SkyPath for Auckland’s Harbour Bridge is also confirmed – a walking and cycling link between Westhaven and the North Shore. The project will cost $360m and is due to start next year.

The announcement will serve a number of political imperatives and leaves National with little ability to respond, apart from criticise and appear churlish.  Time will tell if the projects will sufficiently address sustainability concerns.

96 comments on “The Government’s $12 billion infrastructure package ”

  1. Sacha 1

    I am disgusted. What a wasted opportunity.

    Building more roads is utterly the wrong thing to do if these clowns were serious about climate action. Another win for the dinosaurs. Young people will be well pissed off.

    • weka 1.1

      I can't even rally the energy to try and blame some of it on Peters.

    • Alan 1.2

      Sacha,

      Take heart, vast numbers of highly capable engineers and scientists are devoting themselves to perfecting alternative forms of energy for the transport industry.

      Will it be battery based? Will it be hydrogen based? Will it be something else? We do not know the answer to that yet but it is highly likely that in a very short period of time none of us will be driving vehicles fuelled by petrol or diesel.

      However, the chances of scientists overcoming gravity in an economical and safe way, (think the Jetson family) are very slim in the foreseeable future and thus roads will remain vital to our economy for a long time yet.

      Safe, efficient roads are fine, petrol vehicles not so much.

      • Sacha 1.2.1

        There is far more important infrastructure than roads made of oil, no matter what you imagine driving on them.

        • Alan 1.2.1.1

          Efficient transport of people and goods drives the economy.A strong economy translates to tax dollars to spend on all areas of community wellness.

          • Sacha 1.2.1.1.1

            Last century's economy. Not this one.

            • Alan 1.2.1.1.1.1

              rather than make cliched comments, please explain to me your vision of how congested, gridlocked communities/regions/ countries operate

              • Sacha

                No time for a 101 on that topic, sorry. This century needs different tools. Not a contentious comment, surely.

                • Alan

                  Right, so goods and services do not need to be moved locally, nationally and internationally and we all work from home and never go anywhere – brilliant future, thanks very much.

                  • weka

                    That's black and white thinking. In a sustainable system there can be movement, but there are limits to that movement as well. We can have movement, just not in limitless amounts.

              • weka

                Relocalise economies so that there doesn't need to be so much on road movement. Centre public transport in all forms as the key to transition. Support an ethical discussion about the limits of growth, including population, and how Just Transition features in that. Remind ourselves we are part of nature and design our systems accordingly (as Sacha points out, nature pays a high price for tarmac).

              • woodart

                Im with you alan. personal transportation will never go out of fashion . until humans invent teleportation , roads are necessary .some people get out of bed hopeing to be outraged….tiresome

      • Molly 1.2.2

        My partner works in the transport industry, and while they have already started on the road to replace their fleet with electric vehicles, their strategy ALSO includes putting as much as possible on alternative transport systems, including rail and ferry.

        Getting vehicles off the road is an important part of transitioning. Unfortunately, the current freight service from Toll is abysmal, with Kiwirail not up to the job of providing the essential service of regular, reliable, and price stability that is needed. Investment in rail, and alternative transport systems other than road vehicles should have been the starting point.

        Big money is being spent on BAU, however, we need the usual business to be better. Much better.

      • SHG 1.2.3

        Safe, efficient roads are fine
        Now look up the carbon emissions of construction concrete

    • A 1.3

      I don't know why they have done this and can think of numerous other projects with more merit.

    • SHG 1.4

      I am disgusted. What a wasted opportunity.

      Building more roads is utterly the wrong thing to do if these clowns were serious about climate action. Another win for the dinosaurs. Young people will be well pissed off.

      Agreed 100%. So much for our nuclear free moment, this is like Lange announcing a $6billion spending spree on uranium mining for the US Navy.

      • Enough is Enough 1.4.1

        Its politics SHG.

        There is an election to win this year. Jacinda and Grant have removed the construction of motorways as an election issue, even though it inconsistent with their earlier comments and objectives.

        I think it will result it them retaining power though

  2. indiana 2

    Yipeee! These roads will be ready for when Neve has her drivers licence.

    [Your Full Licence for commenting here does not include Trolling – Incognito]

  3. weka 3

    Looking for some saving graces.

    $10m for schools and hospitals to switch from coal boilers to clean energy. Looks like biomass power, which is a low form of climate prep, esp in the absence of sustainable biomass production. Maybe more biomass demand will push for better production systems. Solar and passive heating/cooling would be higher forms of prep.

    Am hoping someone will do a green analysis of the rail and Auckland spends, eg separating out the cycle/walkways from unnecessary roading.

    • weka 3.1

      Is the spend over five years? Time for things to be reprioritised later?

    • lprent 3.2

      There was a pretty good pre-announcement analysis of possible projects by Matt L at Greater Auckland

      https://www.greaterauckland.org.nz/2020/01/29/what-we-may-see-in-the-infrastructure-announcement-today/

    • pat 3.3

      I know of a local company supplying that biomass….Im not sure its any better than burning coal, theres an awful lot of trees being removed and an awful lot of diesel being burnt in the process…and the company is struggling to turn a profit.

      • weka 3.3.1

        I find it hard to think about because it looks like the same thinking that got us into the fossil fuel mess in the first place. It should be possible to do it well and sustainably, small scale where there aren't other good options. I think there were people in Otago trying to use wilding pines, which is not a bad idea, but we probably should be letting much of them grow into forests. It's all cart before the horse stuff unfortunately. Or just not thinking the whole systems through. I hope I'm wrong about the Greens' initiative.

  4. weka 4

    Politically, the timing of the election date announcement and this spend is canny, yes?

    • Graeme 4.1

      It does leave the Government open to allegations of 'buying the election', but it got it out of the way and the Government is doing things.

      It's how governments get re-elected. Can't do much from opposition.

      • weka 4.1.1

        I'm ok with canny, was just curious if this timing would have been that intentional.

        • Ad 4.1.1.1

          Yes. Of course.

        • McFlock 4.1.1.2

          Yep. Announce them all now, some will be under construction by the election and others will be on the cusp of starting. People in jobs or hoping for them, but with a lag time from the announcement.

          Tax breaks/benefit increases/operational funding for dhbs and schools (i.e. pay rises/overtime/additional jobs) have a more immediate effect, so would be progressively announced towards budget time and it will still feel like a pay rise come september.

          Much better than ghost bridges.

          And it all sticks Joyce's $11b hole where the sun doesn't shine.

          • weka 4.1.1.2.1

            I'm not holding out too much hope around welfare spend, but I am pleased if Labour are playing this smart for the election.

            Speaking of bridges,

            • McFlock 4.1.1.2.1.1

              yeah I've no idea what they'll do, but this is reasonable timing for an infrastructure announcement.

              Apparently there was one pm who called every new government factory (back in the day) something like "National sprocket factory" rather than "NZ sprocket factory", just so people knew which government had finished it 🙂

    • Graeme 4.2

      Events later in the afternoon could have had more to do with the election date announcement.

  5. Ad 5

    You beat me to it Mickey. Here's my commentary:

    $12 billion of Government transport expenditure. It’s big.

    In any major government expenditure announcement, those in the industry will notice the absences just as much as those that have been announced.

    Greater Auckland did a little speculation yesterday about what else could have been there, with excellent infographics and videos:

    https://www.greaterauckland.org.nz/2020/01/29/what-we-may-see-in-the-infrastructure-announcement-today/

    It also has useful commentary on further stages that are in the planning.

    Here’s the list announced today:

    https://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA2001/S00117/transport-infrastructure-upgrades-to-get-nz-moving.htm

    Here’s some of the Ministerial commentary on it.

    https://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA2001/S00122/growing-and-modernising-the-nz-economy.htm

    There are those for whom spending any money on roads is just sacrilege. As ever, transport investments take in a number of factors. One of the biggest to emerge in the last two terms is safety as the road toll has shot up. The second is timing: do you have the consents and land acquisition in place to get it done. And the third is the ever-expanding servicing of growing cities and networks.

    We are left to speculate on how these projects were chosen through the new NLTP criteria. Or indeed if.

    To go through the roading list first:

    1. Whangarei-Marsden

    “Upgrading SH1 Whangarei to Port Marsden to four lanes will improve freight connectivity and improve productivity in the North.”

    Substantial improvements have been made to SH1 from Waipu to the Brynderwyns in the last five years, but the Marsden-Whangarei stretch is a really poor and unsafe piece of work – it’s well overdue. I would not be surprised if Minister Jones gets to make a separate Whangarei-to-Marsden rail link closer to the election.

    2. Auckland Penlink

    “Penlink will open up more growth north of Auckland and connect Whangaparoa residents to the successful northern busway.”

    Penlink is a struggle to demonstrate worth for since Whangaparoa’s population and transport demand is essentially static. But it’s been a consistent stick with which successive governments have been beaten by all kinds of MP and Council. There’s no sign of a toll on it, when there should be as it’s basically a commuter-only road.

    3. Auckland Mill Road
    “Upgrading Mill Road to four lanes and connecting Manukau to Drury will ease traffic on SH1 and connect growing parts of Auckland with job-rich centres.”

    For those of you who track the growth of Drury in Auckland’s south, this is a gamechanger and provides an expressway alternative parallel to SH1. It is currently the cause of massive injury and death on the existing road.

    4. Auckland SH1 Papakura to Drury

    “Widening SH1 from Papakura to Drury and building a cycleway alongside it, will get commuters to work faster.”

    Once completed, it buys a bit of time before the congestion catches up again. Honestly that’s about it. They’ll have to extend to the Bombay Hills with all the growth in satellite towns like Pokeno.

    6. Auckland Rail

    “Completing the third main rail line will remove a key bottleneck for freight and passenger services, as well as provide additional capacity for the increased services once the City Rail Link is completed.

    Electrifying the railway track between Papakura to Pukekohe will speed up trips to the CBD. The addition of two new platforms at Pukekohe station will allow additional lines for future growth.”

    Possibly the most terrifying thing about transport in Auckland is that the rail alternative has a nasty habit of just stopping dead too often. That’s a lot of angry people wondering why they didn’t take the car. The biggest fix is to upgrade reliability and signals – so this set of duplications is totally necessary. It’s taken a lot of lobbying from Auckland Transport and Auckland Council to achieve this, so good on them for their success after so many years.

    “Two new railway stations in Drury Central and Drury West, along with ‘park and ride’ facilities, will give real choice to the families that move to this high growth part of Auckland.”

    I am really surprised that they didn’t announce more rail stations along the way to Pukekohe – who knows perhaps there is more to come as the election date moves closer. Electrification of this section is already into procurement planning.

    5. Waikato SH1/SH29 Roundabout
    “Building a roundabout at the intersection of SH1/SH29 will improve safety at one of New Zealand’s most dangerous intersections. This is on the route that future proofs the extension of the Waikato Expressway from Cambridge to Piarere.”

    There are so many high speed crashes on this section particularly around Karapiro that someone had to move. I think they’ve missed a trick to simply vary the existing contractors on the Hamilton-Waikato sections into a full extension to Piarere. I still think there’s a good chance of this.

    6. Tauranga
    • A four-lane Tauranga Northern Link and upgrades on SH2 to Omokoroa will improve safety on a dangerous stretch of highway and unlock more housing developments in our fastest growing city and important trading port.

    Since it’s in Simon Bridges’ home town, it has great politics impact. But Tauranga suffers from one of the least coherent transport systems around, with negligible public transport or cycleways, and a tortuous rail link to the port.

    7. Wellington Region
    “Four-laning SH1 from Otaki to North of Levin will improve travel times and safety and boost the Horowhenua economy and its connection to Wellington and the region.
    “The second stage of SH58 safety improvements will make a key route in Greater Wellington safer and more reliable. Stage one started in late 2019.
    “The Melling interchange project will reduce the risk of flooding, help ease congestion during peak times, and the railway realignment will improve reliability and give more ‘park and ride’ options.
    “Our Christchurch package will speed up public transport in the high-growth south west of the city, improve safety in rural towns in the region and boost economic development with a more reliable route for freight to Lyttleton Port.”

    There’s really no good justification for the SH1 Otaki to Levin section expenditure.

    Melling Road is really vulnerable to storm surges and river flooding, and will require shifting and upgrading the Melling rail station – it’s one of the strongest and most integrated jobs of the whole package.

    “Wellington rail upgrades, including in the Wairarapa, will make the lines north of the city more reliable and better able to meet growing demand.”

    Before committing to major commuter rail in the Wairarapa, I would have liked to have seen evidence of rail patronage growth, or massive new subdivisions planned. There are already huge upgrades to the freight terminals in Wellington and Picton.

    8. Queenstown
    “Our Queenstown transport package will greatly improve public transport into the town centre on SH6A, ease congestion on SH6 and support continued tourism growth.”

    Queenstown is pretty much a foreign country now, and there’s no sign of any limit to the volume growth of tourist traffic save in the number of flights they can pack into Queenstown Airport. They’ve moderated the road speed limits down, and made the bus from the airport to Queenstown nearly free, and replaced that appalling old bridge over the Shotover. For my money I would have put big fat roundabouts along the motorway from Queenstown to Mosssburn to manage the buses, shuttles, cyclists, caravans and campervans. Make sure you book yourself onto the Kingston Flyer which is due to be operating again soon.

    There’s a tiny bit for Green special projects like removing a few of the 200 coal-fired boilers from school heating systems.

    https://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA2001/S00124/flicking-the-switch-on-a-clean-powered-public-service.htm

    There’s nothing on a signature scale like the CRL was from National in October 2016. Nor anything about shifting the Auckland port, given the Prime Minister stated that it will move. Nothing on light rail for Auckland – just a general hint that every time we pay a ticket we support our own superannuation.

    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12292277

    Not a whole bunch of national plan or coherence to it all.

    But they are all projects that needed doing.

    And it is this government that has taken the opportunity with interest rates so low to take on new debt and get them going. Anyone capable of operating a spade will be asked to hold one and get digging – hopefully to keep the total unemployed down below 4% again.

    Good on them.

    • RedLogix 5.1

      Before committing to major commuter rail in the Wairarapa, I would have liked to have seen evidence of rail patronage growth, or massive new subdivisions planned.

      According to one droll wit I knew, when the last train pulls out of Featherston every morning, the average IQ of the 'Rapa drops 20 points for the day … devil

      But in my experience it's been a successful service, and usually running over capacity at peak times. It's contributed substantially to the progressive development of the region. Track and signalling upgrades will be very, very welcome.

    • Sacha 5.2

      But they are all projects that needed doing.

      Nope. Penlink is crazy. Extending the northern busway made far more sense.

      The Levin boondoggle will keep construction companies and financiers happy but returns 25c of benefit for every dollar invested in it. May as well scatter three in four banknotes upwind of a banker.

      Depressingly incompetent choices.

      • tc 5.2.1

        Depressingly middle of the road/don't scare the horses choices.

        Must be election year so keep winnie happy and take some oxygen from soimon.

    • Dazzer 5.3

      There’s really no good justification for the SH1 Otaki to Levin section expenditure.

      Cough cough but really? Apart from the bottleneck (or perhaps because of it) there is a major issue with crashes and subsequent deaths.

      I'll have a guess you are resident in a large urban area likely AK?

      Infrastructure spending is a smart move. I don't think anyone with half a brain will oppose infrastructure spending. However, Labour has a serious issue around credibility around the decision to cancel projects and then decide in election year to refund them. It's either pork barrel politics or incompetence.

      • Sacha 5.3.1

        a major issue with crashes and subsequent deaths

        All factored into the 25c/dollar benefit cost ratio in the business case.

      • Psycho Milt 5.3.2

        Labour has a serious issue around credibility around the decision to cancel projects and then decide in election year to refund them.

        Unfunded election promises aren't "projects" so can't be cancelled, and they're not being "re-" funded because they were never funded to start with. National has a serious issue with making big promises it commits no funding to, leaving the next government to actually find the money for it.

        That said, they shouldn't have bothered with the Otaki-Levin expressway. I drive that road fairly often and there's nothing wrong with it. A by-pass around Levin would be enough to fix the problem.

      • woodart 5.3.3

        commenters who say the levin bypass is not needed are likely to be auckland based or if welly based only come through levin twice a year. I go through levin three times a week and can confirm a bypass is badly needed. maybe some of the keyboard warriors need to get out into the real world.

    • lprent 5.4

      Yeah I could argue about the Penlink. The road there really really sucks. But there is literally nothing out there of importance apart from people who chose to live on an isolated peninsula, and it is unlikely there ever will be – too isolated for anything productive.

      The road will have no economic payback because it isn't even unsafe. It is just slow to drive if you're fool enough to want to live there and want to commute to Auckland. Fixing the road from Takapuna to Devonport would be way more productive and serve much the same purpose.

      However there has been a lot of political screaming by self-interested idiots wanting to get a boondoggle. Now admitted the same useless dimwits will be screaming for something as inherently useless when this road is done. However, I'm sure that by then they'd have gotten a bit more cautious after the road completion

      Wanting roadworks on a narrow peninsula is going to way easier than having to live with the construction is going to cause a *lot* of screaming by affected residents.

      I suspect that the extension to Otaki to Levin is much the same kind of repeated demand issue. Kind of hard to see a justification. The road has never seemed to have much traffic by my Auckland standards when I've been on it, and it certainly doesn't seem unsafe.

      With the rail, the real game changer would be to extend the commuter Southern line all the way out to Pokeno. As the proponents of regional rail state about the Pokeno developments…

      Take the town of Pokeno, which has grown quickly in the last few years. “Pokeno is the worst kind of town,” says Nicolas Reid. It has no town centre and despite the dairy export plant there are almost no jobs. There’s a little strip mall, which Gale says is “the worst kind of shopping experience”. She points out that the streets loop around and don’t interconnect, so it’s impossible to walk efficiently from one place to another.

      You’re just meant to drive away in the morning, hope you don’t get stuck in too much traffic, and drive home at night. Reid: “It’s unbelievable we’re still even building towns like that.”

      And the reality is that people from there and future developments there will just choke the whole SH1 motorway because they'll load it up all the way from the other end. Worth starting to treat it as satellite commuterville because that is what it already is.

      • Molly 5.4.1

        Des Morrison, previous councillor for Franklin District Council and prior Franklin Ward councillor spoke of his work to get the Pokeno District Plan done with pride. The lack of planning foresight in building a community, rather than just providing landowners with increased equity by rezoning, and business opportunities is well represented by Pokeno. Planning needs to lift its game, both here and with transport.

      • woodart 5.4.2

        respect to you iprent, but judging 100kph two laned state highway one traffic(read,ALL traffic,from pushbikes to houses on large trucks, no bypasses in case of accidents etc)by auckland standards(slower moving,multi laned,many alternative routes,etc) is nonsense.

        • Sacha 5.4.2.1

          Transport agencies, both national and regional, have a set of criteria they use to compare projects (some dictated by Treasury). Penlink and Otaki roads simply do not stack up against other options for the same spending.

          Funding them is purely political and rewards those who have the influence and resources to scream longest.

          • woodart 5.4.2.1.1

            "some dictated by treasury,"(nail, meet hammer) .sorry to disallusion you but treasury should be kept far away from deciding anything about roads.criteria decided by most deskjockeys has had that many mistakes and wrong conclusions. when there is no alternative route , any $$$ decisions should be looked at very clearly. when any rd in auckland is blocked ,there are alternative routes and things keep moving,slowly. when state highway one around levin stops, everything stops..

  6. Kevin 6

    Meanwhile back in Hawkes Bay the Napier to Wairoa rail link has reopened with a log train on Saturday and Sunday. Each one removing the equivalent of 50 truck movements a day from the State Highway. As the East Coast 'Wall of Wood' comes on stream this will be ramped up. Funded by Shane Jones' PGF.

    I understand that the Wairoa to Gisborne link is next on the agenda.

    This is the kind of infrastructure that should be prioritised over more multi-lane highways.

    • Ad 6.1

      The big improvements you have seen in the expressway in Hawkes Bay under this government have been driven by local factors such as the port, by the local and regional councils, in conjunction with NZTA.

      major-works-to-improve-hawkes-bays-key-strategic-routes-

  7. Corey Humm 7

    Damn it . I have been trying to be really positive about this govt but come on

    Chch and Canterbury need massive infrastructure builds not just cos of the earthquakes but the huge population booms which have been extremely welcome are going to continue. $170 million on a few roads for a city that became more or less a strong hold for labour and whose rebuild is still desperately underfunded. Ffs.

    This is so despairingly disappointing. I'm not sure I wanna go out door knocking in the rain and go through all the stress of this election. I'm not sure it matters who wins this year cos inequality and homelessness aren't gonna change , neither party is gonna raise welfare payments and neither party will build major infrastructure projects other than road apart from a measly billion on rail and a cycle Lane in Auckland that is more than twice the entire spend for the second largest region

    Heart breaking.

    [Have you forgotten your user handle and e-mail address?]

    • Sacha 7.1

      a city that became more or less a strong hold for labour

      Re-elected the Nats, twice.

      more than twice the entire spend for the second largest region

      Infrastructure is to service future population and associated growth, not current or past proportions. Most growth in the next 2-3 decades is projected to be in Auckland and the top half of the north island.

  8. It would seem that the Road to Hell will, in fact, be nicely paved…

    https://www.nature.com/articles/nclimate3390?foxtrotcallback=true

    Though, I suspect the asphalt melting will be the least of our problems if we continue to rely so heavily on cars.

    Labour seem quote enamoured with the idea that a change to electric vehicles is the answer..

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/aug/13/electric-cars-are-not-the-solution-pollutionwatch

    • WeTheBleeple 8.1

      My first thoughts on all this were concerning materials used for roading, and alternatives e.g. those that blend plastics into the mix. We're always redoing work over previous wetlands, peat bogs, swamps… A lighter material that 'floated' on the soggy substrata might help considerably.

      The new plas-mix handles water, heat and vehicles better than conventional tar road There are already local examples using it https://www.downergroup.com/road-science-and-environz-solving-waste-probl and with sustainability becoming a major marketing point and winner of R&D funding I'd be surprised not to see more options open up.

      Electric cars aren't the solution, but they are part of it. Clean power, as stated in the article, is the real kick-starter to turning this shebang around. With adequate clean power we can do all manner of things to improve our lot. Power electric fleets, heat greenhouses, make hydrogen, run industry… Without it, we burn stuff. The obsession with the economy isn't going to stop in a hurry, the only 'have our cake and eat it too' scenario that might work, imo, is to transition power sources while we have the resources to do so.

      I think the government is playing it safe with an election looming, scoring points, but it's not horrible. Horrible would be to make radical moves and freak out the center, thus letting the bankers buddies in for another general gutting.

      Should the general public decide this is not cricket and march in large numbers, this government is smart enough to respond to that, though never enough for some (and understandably so for some).

      • Siobhan 8.1.1

        Playing it safe by finally finishing Nationals roading plans…placating the centre is taking too long*….hence the time lapse between Helen Clarke promoting long life light bulbs back in 2008..and then having to wait 11 years to phase out plastic bags…talk about dragging our feet…

        If a Labour Government will not educate and promote and lead 'middle NZ' to the point where they are literally demanding change ..we are doomed..

        *not to mention..the idea of soft National voters has been fairly well disproved. This lack lustre performance by Labour could well lead to just as many people not bothering to turn out to vote

  9. mosa 9

    12 billion dollars at cheap re payment rates.

    That amount of money really could have addressed the huge levels of poverty and deprivation that Labour say they are committed too fixing.

    That must be , maybe in their second or third term.

    Roads get priority over the social deficit despite some tweeking here and there.

    We all get the idea that the last government under funded everything and they are playing catch up.

    I guess you can live under a motorway but you can't cook it up and eat it.

  10. Sacha 10

    Gen Zero are predictably unimpressed. https://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO2001/S00129/infrastructure-spending-will-accelerate-climate-change.htm

    “If climate change were a priority for the New Zealand government, then it would not be spending billions on encouraging car dependency and increasing road transport emissions.”

    The Government has allocated an excessive 78% of the transport spending towards roads.

    Yet Gen Zero show more vision in the face of that than the govt has:

    The silver lining of the government’s disheartening announcement today is that it shifts hundreds of millions off the Auckland Council’s books.

    “Given that $3.48 billion of the budget will be spent in Auckland, we now call on Mayor of Auckland Phil Goff, the Auckland Council, and Auckland Transport to reallocate this spending on fast tracking improved bus priority infrastructure, better bus services, and new cycleways.”

  11. Think Big #2..? Not quite. Here's our last social democratic Prime Minister:

    • Kevin 11.1

      Love the Stubbies. Kiwi icon.

    • Andre 11.2

      Unfortunately, for many of us that lived through the Muldoon years, he's not an effective advertisement for the merits of social democracy.

      • Graeme 11.2.1

        Hopefully a few things have been learnt from that time and this phase of infrastructure investment doesn't end up like Muldoon's effort. It'll hurt if this 12 Bn fuels another speculative bubble.

        But it's not being done at the same time as trying to curb huge inflation by outlawing it. (wage and price freeze) So might be different.

        • pat 11.2.1.1

          Muldoon was unlucky (I say this as someone who voted against him with a passion)…the Think Big projects were (mainly) undone by the unexpected oil price slump.

          https://www.thebalance.com/oil-price-history-3306200

          • lprent 11.2.1.1.1

            I was involved in some of the refractory engineering work for think big back in the early 80s.for Kamo Green. Didn't find any reason to change my opinion that I formed at university.

            TB was a good idea for the 1950s in NZ. It was pity that National wasn't interested then when it possible for it to have made a heavy industrial difference to the economy. Problem was that the world wide capacity shortages were long over by the 70s.

            The oil prices wasn't the issue. The problem was when it was being built.

            • pat 11.2.1.1.1.1

              Beg to differ…and the fact that ALL the projects remain operational today is testament, sadly many of them are now in private hands.

              • lprent

                Most were sold off at bargain basement prices – so there was effectively no real capital cost. A process that effectively made them profitable almost regardless of how marginable they were as economic entities.

                Some of them depend on ongoing subsidies from taxpayers – like the ridiculous electricity pricing for Tiwai.

                Not all of them are still alive. For instance one of the more major ones, the Motonui synfuel plant, closed around 2000.

                The capital cost was largely worn by the taxpayers and we paid for that. Clearing the debt from the think big projects was the major reason for the selloff of much of the government assets in the late 80s, 90s, and into the 00s.

                If that was a success, I'd hate to see what a failed industrial policy would look like.

                  • lprent

                    Not exactly the synthetic fuel that the plant was built for. The price that the plant was sold at reflects the conversion cost to methanol. In other words it wound up being sold for peanuts.

                    While the exports is a good thing, for the price that the taxpayers paid to build those plants, they could have built whole industries with way more employment to achieve 95% exports. I know….

                    Personally, post think big, my target for decades in the IT industry was to only work in companies with greater than 95% exports. But we sure as hell weren't propped up by government debt with the cost passed to taxpayers. The best we ever got was the odd small R&D grants that came with copious paperwork.

                    Directly or indirectly IT provide more high wage employment than the whole of the diary industry and just as focused on exports. Unlike dairy we make real profits.

                    The same thing applied to the biotech, the wine, and a large number of other industries that make up most of the ~60% of the export economy that isn't cow, sheep and low employment. Apart from over-fishing and the remaining mining, none of them are based on extraction and squandering of a finite resource

                    By comparision to all of those industries, the think big looks like think small and pay too much.

                    • Sacha

                      And think of the infrasdtructure we need for high-value export industries like IT, screen production, fashion, professional services – sure aint roads.

                    • pat

                      wasnt converted to methanol…the synfuel process was a two step process…the first step was methanol production ..the second step was conversion to syn fuel…only the second process was mothballed and the methanol production continues..

                      You may wish to consider that the entire TB process cost around 7 billion…the assets were sold for around 1.7 billion…so much for debt reduction. The current government has just announced approx12 billion on (essentially) roads…at the time of TB, NZ net debt to GDP reached around 20%.

                      Your complaint of subsidies ignores the fact that subsidies were in existence before (Tiwai power e.g) and since TB…same old ,same old.

                      For that outlay we developed almost 10% of our current clean green hydro power. a partially electrified rail, world leading capability in alternative fuel production, increased steel production capability, fertiliser production and increased refining (and distribution) of oil products….and as pointed out almost all those benefits were flogged off at firesale prices and continue to make (largely export) dollars today….

                      …..Muldoon was unlucky

                • Graeme

                  The only TB I can think of that is still working as intended is the NIMT electrification. Although that's indirectly had a capital adjustment with the various sales of our railway system, and has just required Government directive to stop it being 'mothballed', meaning run down to the point it's to hard to re-commision and then sold for scrap. That's more managerialism than a dumb idea to start with though.

                  • Andre

                    That the NIMT electrification only went from Palmy to Hamilton, instead of Orcland to Wellie, meant it wasn't really "Think Big". More like "Think partway to Big".

                    • Graeme

                      Yeah, they didn't want rail working too well, not good for private interests…

                    • RedLogix

                      I'd imagine much of it is now very dated technology from the 80's … inevitably a big lump of upgrade money is due to be spent on it soon. But because National committed NZR to a huge expenditure (another nakedly corrupt deal) on those Chinese DL locos they've been backed into a corner.

                  • pat

                    Clyde Dam is not working as intended?…or Marsden Point and the Wiri pipeline?….how about Kapuni (now owned by Balance)?….or the steel coming out of Glenbrook?

        • Nic the NZer 11.2.1.2

          The huge inflation was mostly resulting from substantial politically motivated oil price hikes by opec.

          Think big was actually a plan to make NZ more energy independent, partly so such inflation would not be imported.

          The NZ currency crisis was due to NZs fixed exchange regime which no longer exists. The crisis was exploited by free market zeilots but the monetarist reforms didn't work as advertised demonstrating the inflation at the time was not actually caused by govt spending.

          And the eventual market crash and bank failures were the result of failing to regulate banks at all in NZ while opening up financial markets.

          So basically the historic period being described doesn't even form into one cohesive story about todays economy. Its unlikely that NZ inflation will even get to the govts 2% target as a result.

    • Blazer 11.3

      you forgot to mention the head=2 sizes too big!

  12. Sanctuary 12

    A 12 billion dollar act of political cowardice.

  13. Reality 13

    Can’t quite figure out those who are upset at money being spent on roads. It’s 2020, not 1920 and our population has grown dramatically in the last 30 years. Europe has wonderful roads which makes transport so efficient there. Public transport is great if people live relatively nearby, but does not serve many outlying suburbs and small towns.

    Walking/cycling have limitations in bad weather, getting children to school or the doctor or home with a load of shopping. Imagine a mum with two young children trying to cycle everywhere. Many older people (and we have an aging population) are not going to be able to walk or cycle. Let’s be sensible about transport issues for those not able to walk or cycle miles to go about their daily tasks, and need to use a car to get about.

  14. Muttonbird 14

    Like a dagger through the heart of Simon Bridges, the government's infrastructure spend has waded far into National Party territory.

    Simon must be terrified right now because plank after plank of his election campaign is being taken away.

    No wonder he looks like someone stole his ice cream.

    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12304273

    • Sacha 14.1

      Nah. Why bother getting elected if the other guys do what you were going to anyway? #relaxed

      • tc 14.1.1

        As well as sorting out the mess left in health, education, housing etc #smiling and waving again looking at 2023.

    • veutoviper 14.2

      "No wonder he looks like someone stole his ice cream"

      Or perhaps he had already been advised that the SFO has laid charges against four people in relation to donations to the National Party – breaking news with details still to come – but that is for another post or OM and is off topic here. LOL.

  15. Chris T 15

    They have finally done something usefull.

    Good

  16. Peter 16

    No Steven Joyce on the news talking about $11.7 billion holes. Funny that.

  17. Chris T 17

    Wonder which will be ditched to get a deal with the Greens next election.

    Bridge walk thing will probably still happen.Sounds quite cool tbf. Saw the website designs.

  18. mike 18

    kiwi saver funds are looking for projects to invest in light rail projects could be funded and owned by us its long term money and stable owners and its all of us investing in our own country via our pension funds

    https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/money/2019/04/why-is-the-infrastructure-commission-bill-so-important.html

  19. Mad Plumber 19

    I accept that most of the projects are spade? ready but it would be nice to see some forward planning for the replacement of the Rakaia and Rangitata bridges. We have recently seen what happens when there are problems with these bridges as there is only one other crossing point and in the case of the Rakaia the other bridge is weight restricted.

    [Please stick your original user handle, thanks. This is the third time I’ve had to change it and it’s starting to wear thin]

  20. Philg 20

    National would have done this stuff anyway! Even National couldn't deny reality forever.

  21. Mad Plumber 21

    My apologies, old age and to much glue fumes

  22. adam 22

    Finally some money for Auckland.

    And now I'm no longer living there. cool

    Would have like to seen more on moving the main port north . And fixing up the southern part of the Brynderwyn range. One can hope.

    Overall happy they been bold. May more boldness be around the corner.

  23. Enough is Enough 23

    This will swing the election, well maybe not swing, but entrench a victory for the Government in this year's election.

    National's most effective attack strategy was roads and the lack of investment by the Government. The cancellation of the Roads of National Significance policy was liked the left's core supporters, but hated by anyone leaving Auckland or Wellington on a long weekend.

    Jacinda has removed this as an election issue. Brilliant politics.

    • James 23.1

      Nope – their most effective attack strategy is Jacindas “year of delivery”, kiwibuild, light rail, homelessness etc.

      she’s has made promises and not delivered them.

  24. Sacha 24

    Transport expert and Associate Minister on the infrastructure announcement: https://thespinoff.co.nz/politics/02-02-2020/julie-anne-genter-green-party-infrastructure

    Generation Zero wrote in the Spinoff that they were very disappointed at some of the incredibly expensive motorway projects that make up the lion’s share of the transport spend in the NZ Upgrade.

    They are absolutely right. It is nowhere near what we need.

    If we’re going to borrow billions to invest in the future, we must ensure that every cent helps us protect that future.

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