During his disastrous campaign trip to Kapiti yesterday, John Key said the Kapiti Expressway would be paid for by asset sales. Labour will do neither. National won’t release the Expressway’s benefit-cost ratio but it will cost $500m ($30K per metre). To get it, we would have to sell half of Solid Energy, which has paid us $310m of dividends in the past 5 years.
Labour’s alternative is to keep Solid Energy, and its revenue stream, in public ownership and to build a link road for a quarter of the cost of the 100m wide behemoth that National wants to build.
National’s justification for trading Solid Energy for 18km of asphalt? Well, they’re building Transmission Gully and it’s going to be four lanes, so the road it empties into should be four lanes too (yeah, that logic leads me to think every road should be four lane). And what’s Transmission Gully’s BCR? 0.6. So, for $2 billion we’ll get a road worth $1.2 billion.
Oh and traffic is falling on Wellington region state highways, contrary to the growth assumptions that underlie even those weak the BCRs. Traffic is down 2.3% in the past year.
Is National’s logic for wasting $500m on the Expressway really that it is needed for fitting on the end of a $2 billion waste of money? They’re chasing a problem that is ceasing to exist by itself with projects that don’t add up.
On top of ignoring common sense, a 4,000 signature petition from the locals has been ignored by National while Key does the smile and wave job, which left Kapiti residents cold:
Eventually, Mr Key emerges from the train. The children break into song again – and so do the protesters. They chant slogans and wave placards protesting against the Kapiti Expressway, which will carve up small communities and force some locals out of their homes.
Local MP Nathan Guy, who has been feeling the heat of local opposition, hugs Mr Key’s shoulder. It is put to Mr Guy that the protesters are angry because they believed they had an assurance there would be only a two-lane highway.
The Otaki MP does not dispute that is what he told them. “But this is a far better offer,” he protests. “This is a four-lane road now.”
At Coastlands in Paraparaumu, known locally as God’s waiting room because of its large retiree population, Mr Key leaps behind the counter of the local McDonald’s and starts serving out burgers and chips.
Raumati pensioner Yvonne Kent, who stands in her zimmer frame as she waits for her specially bagged order, says later that she appreciates the burger – but would much rather the prime minister did something about her home help.
Her hours have been cut and she worries that she is not able to scrub the floors or clean the shower by herself.
Unsurprisingly then, she has not given the election much thought. “Mostly I’m trying to get myself sorted out. They’re taking my home care away. They did it over the phone … they don’t come down to see you or assess you.
“They’re so damn sneaky about it. I’m going to go and see the doctors and see if I can get it back.”
She wishes she had told the prime minister but admits “he took me by surprise”.