Labour is conceding defeat on Auckland Light Rail before the election, with Cabinet failing to reach an agreement on either proposal.
RNZ previously reported that the project was dead in the water, but until now the government’s position has been that negotiations were ongoing.
In a statement, Minister of Transport Phil Twyford said Cabinet agreed to end the twin track process of the project, despite extensive cross-party consultation.
It will now be referred to the ministry for further work, with a decision left to be made until after the September general election, Twyford said.
Listening to RNZ news on this, here are the impressions I am left with.
NZ First don’t give a shit about climate change. Not in any meaningful sense. They might believe it’s real and that governments should take action, but they apparently are clueless about both the urgency and nature of the emergency.
Likewise National. Second up in the piece was Chris Bishop and his primary point was that this was a government fail. Blah blah Labour, you should let us be in government instead blah blah Labour have failed. Absolutely negatively National. These fuckers are all about gaining power, even worse than NZF. Caring for the world or New Zealand (the actual point of being the government) is secondary at best.
From RNZ again,
Twyford confirmed earlier this month his office had received an email on behalf of NZ First leader Winston Peters regarding light rail on 29 February, but said it was not in the public interest to reveal its contents.
RNZ has been told the email made clear NZ First’s objections to the project, namely its cost and scale, as well as the potential involvement of the CDPQ.
Auckland Light Rail was a flagship Labour promise in the 2017 election. It is also part of the confidence and supply agreement between Labour and the Greens.
In a statement, Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said Aucklanders would be disappointed in the delay.
“It is frustrating that after three years, disagreement within the coalition has held this process up,” Goff said.
“It’s now less than 90 days until the general election and we expect the incoming government to act quickly and decisively to outline its proposal to get light rail built.”
The government parties being Labour and NZF. The Greens, sitting outside of Cabinet, really want the project. Inside Cabinet, Labour supports it, and NZF is blocking it.
In addition to that the other critical point here is that our current MMP system isn’t transparent and this lack of transparency is both a detriment to our democracy and a way that Peters manipulates the electorate to stay in power. We should know what happened here and why. It beggars belief that development (or not) of key climate mitigation and future proofing infrastructure isn’t open to public scrutiny.
And what does this even mean? “…but said it was not in the public interest to reveal its contents.” We’re all guessing.
My hope is that the Greens and Labour go hard on this for this election. Make it completely clear that NZF are the ones blocking NZ’s ability to respond adequately to climate change as well as resolve Auckland’s transport issues.
An end note. Goff was talking about the pressures on the system that mean that Auckland can’t cope with just increasing buses. That’s a population issue and it’s the elephant in the climate change living room. Sitting alongside other population pressures eg we are building housing on prime food growing land right at the time when climate change is starting to affect global food supply, this is something the left won’t talk about. Indications are that covid is going to push food shortages as well.
From a green politics perspective, the ability to grow food locally is paramount and central to most other things because all humans need food above most other things and in a sustainable system you make that super resilient. At some point we are going to have to get to grips with what increasing population means in terms of the physical realities of the natural world. Housing, water, and transport are already significant issues in Auckland, and few are looking at this confluence through a genuine sustainability lens. If food security gets added to that, it’s not hard to see how we might tip over into a crisis.
If we adopted sustainability as the main management tool, we’d be seeing the connections between all those things, food, water, housing, transport, covid, work, home, community, climate, ecology. The solutions then look quite different, as do the priorities.