Government's transport package welcomed by most except for Greenpeace; Focus on continuity of work, availability of labour and spread of funding across the country

Government's transport package welcomed by most except for Greenpeace; Focus on continuity of work, availability of labour and spread of funding across the country

Business, construction and union lobby groups are broadly supportive of the Government's $6.8 billion transport package, but aren't short of advice.

Civil Contractors New Zealand CEO Peter Silcock said: “Planning for many of these projects is well advanced as they have been on the drawing board for a long time.

“This selection will start to address the country’s infrastructure deficit, but it will be interesting to see the shape these projects take, and when they hit the ground.”

Silcock said any radical changes to what has already been planned could cause significant delays.

He said continuity of work was key for the civil construction industry to ensure it could retain the right skills and make the best use of available equipment.

He noted that while the location and proposed project start dates seemed to provide a good flow of work, getting going would take time.

Division over Auckland focus

Silcock was pleased with the Government’s investment in improved rail networks and said four-lane highway improvements at Mill Road in Auckland, Tauranga Northern Link and Otaki to North of Levin showed a “welcome sense of pragmatism”.

However he was concerned about “underwhelming” investment in the South Island, including “sparse detail on proposals for Queenstown”.

He said that as well as playing catchup in areas with high growth, it was important to stimulate growth across the wider country.

Business NZ CEO Kirk Hope however believed it was appropriate for Auckland to receive the bulk of funding to ease congestion and improve productivity.

"We would like to see this investment applied soon, otherwise we risk losing some of our construction workforce to Australia, where a large transport infrastructure package has also been announced.

"For workforce purposes it will be important that all projects are strongly aligned with immigration and training policies."

Wellington Chamber of Commerce CEO, John Milford, was disappointed the money “barely makes it past Hamilton, with Wellington city receiving no additional transport funding”.

"It is staggering that we can have a $700m four-lane road to Marsden Point, but there's nothing for the two-lane road to Wellington Airport,” he said.

"Yet, the Government is expecting Wellingtonians to stump up with 40% of the cost of basic infrastructure projects like fixing the Basin Reserve and, in a decade's time, a second Mt Victoria tunnel.”

Systemic issues at play

Infrastructure NZ CEO, Paul Blair, commented: “Today’s announcements show central government’s funding power, however local government owns 40% of our infrastructure and largely control Resource Management Act processes which are critical to delivering projects.

“We call for enhanced partnership between central and local government (including the right funding and incentives), to maximise the effectiveness of this top-down investment.”

Blair also stressed that the size of the infrastructure deficit is larger than the funding allocated - likely in the 10s of billions of dollars.

The Employers and Manufacturers Association’s head of advocacy and strategy, Alan McDonald, said the only quibble around today’s announcement was the fact many of the projects were ready to go nearly three years ago.

"Unsurprisingly there was no mention of the [Auckland] East/West corridor, an urgent project that seems to have disappeared completely off the radar and an injection of funding into the North Western Busway would also have been welcomed,” he said.

Council of Trade Unions president, Richard Wagstaff, said the programme represents longer term thinking - something that has been “absent for too long from central government".

"Now that the announcement has been made, it’s critical we use this spending as a real opportunity to create good jobs, that are well paid, secure and safe and which have training at the core,” he said.

“We support the Prime Minister’s comments about now being a good time for young people to learn a trade."

Greenpeace however, was unimpressed by the transport programme, its climate and energy campaigner, Amanda Larsson, saying: "If you build more roads, people will drive more.

"There really couldn’t be a worse time to build expensive and polluting roading than now. From an economic point of view, it’s a bad investment because we already have cleaner and more efficient ways of getting people where they want to go.”

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20 Comments

"Yet, the Government is expecting Wellingtonians to stump up with 40% of the cost of basic infrastructure projects like fixing the Basin Reserve and, in a decade's time, a second Mt Victoria tunnel.”

Won't someone think of poor Wellington, who not only get better funding than the CRL (60/40 vs. 50/50 for Aucklanders) but also get to hold the rest of the country to ransom by forcing other regions' proposals through an endless bureaucratic wash cycle of business cases and consent compliance, ensuring many high paying public sector jobs specialising in holding the rest of the country back. How's Auckland Light Rail coming along, lads?

Also, as pointed out by Greater Auckland, the Wellington region is getting more money per head of population than Auckland - and still finds something to sook about.

Prediction: There will be no appraisal, by any NZ 'journalist', of whether roads-to-nowhere are a waste of the time remaining. The very limited time remaining.

This is reporting - all those people said those things - but one course of action is future-correct, and good investigative journalism might just identify which one. Hint - the measure isn't populism, which perhaps tells us that democracy, coupled with an ill-informed populace, is guaranteed to fall over. Too much discounting the future.................ensures there won't be one.

The PMs twitter Big video is really good people should see it. Like really good. She does this stuff well.
It's got people with phones and the announcement as a thing you talk to. On your phone.
Makes Big much better than Year of Delivery. Much much

.. if traffic is flowing ... instead of crawling ... cars and trucks stalled , engines ticking over . .. CO2 & other nasties emitting to the atmosphere.... then , isn't less fossil fuel used ?

Why aren't Greenpeace applauding the Gnats Roads of National Significance ( Labour ) ....

I read thats it's going to cost around 33 million a km, not sure that's a good use of taxpayer money without a ton of inflation.

Cheaper than Light Rail, though, which runs at $50-100m/km....

The best criticisms so far have been ones of equity - the money is being raised by all New Zealanders and mostly spent in Auckland. New Plymouth's Mayor, Neil Holdem put it eloquently when he referred to Devonport's power walkers heading across the Skypath to have an almond latte in the Viaduct Basin even as people were dying on Taranaki's sub-standard roads. (Don't you wish all mayors had that turn of phrase?)

It would be great if the government used the provisions in its own pending Infrastructure Funding and Finance Bill instead. Under that scheme the Skypath would be deemed as purely for the benefit of supporting growth in Central Auckland and Devonport. A line would be drawn around those areas. Then, for the next fifty years, every current and future rateable property inside that zone would be required to pay off the capital required to build the Skypath. And they would pay the finance charges over that time as well.

Those charges would be on top of all other normal taxes, charges and rates so it would be an extra but just for those properties. I would love to see how the politics of that would go. But at least the residents of every other part of the country from Kaitaia to Bluff would not have to open their wallets to fund an Auckland plaything.

Skypath is an appalling waste of money, prioritizing form rather than function. Cost is higher than the inflation adjusted cost of the original harbor bridge itself! It is a monument to the frivolous wasteful delusion of unrealistic anti-car zealots and the politicians that farm them.

The Skypath bridge and 5km of cycle lanes is getting more infrastructure funding than the entire South Island. The Northshore only has a population of a couple hundred thousand and the South Island has over a million people. There is some type of NZ corruption going on here. It is a nonsense. Places like Taranaki and the South Island rightly should be asking for their taxes back. This is a massive own goal by Labour. Why would people in these areas vote for them so their taxes can be spent elsewhere? No doubt National will offer tax cuts and places like the South Island will think 'I may as well keep my money because that lot in Wellington will just waste it...'.

So 96% of the transport infrastructure spend up went to four regions -Northland, Auckland, Bay of Plenty and Wellington. On a per capita basis Northland came first, then Bay of Plenty, Wellington third and Auckland fourth.
Graphs and numbers here on GA.
https://www.greaterauckland.org.nz/2020/01/30/the-nz-upgrade-transport-p...

Transport spending decisions made in Wellington are important because it is the main way the country builds capital projects for the future. NZ is a strongly centralized state. If Wellington fails us then we have no other institutions to provide needed public works. Of course we could say 'bugger Wellington gives us our money back' when we get frustrated by their poor decisions. But then a few years later there will be a crisis requiring something be done. Leaky homes, housing crisis, high energy costs, climate change... Then the incompetent, corrupt, selfish Wellington types will have us by the goolies again...

Greens: "we already have cleaner and more efficient ways of getting people where they want to go".

Like Queenstown (air, road), Karamea (air, road), Pakawau (road), Nelson (air, road, sea), Te Anau (air, road), Milford (air, road, sea), Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers (air, road).... People certainly wanna Go There, if tourism figgers are to be believed.

Notice the one transport factor common to all these?

waymad, old friend, the blindingly obvious is that this country is incredibly well placed to convert its vehicle fleet to a mix of hydrogen and electric toot sweet. Roads are not disappearing any time soon. You and I are of the generation who remember it being the done thing to carry around a gas cylinder in the back of the Holden HQ station wagon. The gas cylinders are coming back even if the HQ Holden isn't.

Now if we could just engineer the resurrection of the MWD we would be sweet.

Having worked for the old MoW and seen it from the inside, I'd be cautious. Design, yes. Execution - pffft.

But fully agree that Roads are essential, just as they were to the Romans. And aqueducts, but there'd be Snails....so scratch that.

Greenpeace's Amanda Larsson, says: "If you build more roads, people will drive more."

Yes, that's true. But it's also true that, even if you spend more on public transport and none on roads, people will still drive more.

Face facts: public transport is useless for the needs of most people, for most purposes, at most times of the day.

Oh common that is BS. There is a huge number of examples worldwide where cities have built mass transit systems, subways, commuter rail, light rail etc that not only are used these systems are the backbone of their respective cities transport networks. Roads are great but they vèy quickly reach capacity and clog up...

Are any of those cities characterised by sprawling detached homes?

Follow up: do you live in a detached home and do you advocate European-style public transport systems despite that?

What we know is governments are generally poor at spending money, including the creation of good quality jobs.

Using this inference, an infrastructure spend on public infrastructure in demand seems the most efficient use of this money.

With road construction, its a pity the industry of delivery is so concentrated. It might be worth bring back the Ministry of Works (MOW), to provide more price competition in this field. Its reestablishment would also provide an excellent platform to offer apprenticeships.

What the ex politicians and their bean counters forgot when the sold off MOW is while they may have been inefficient, at least the money stayed local; rather than being siphoned off as profit by overseas interests. These same politicians also forgot the ongoing cost of making people redundancy; especially when you're 50 years plus, with less hope of redeployment. These poor decisions (facilitated by Prebble, Caygill & Douglas) now weigh on the economy badly, through generational unemployment.

anyone believe they can actually deliver it .... 10 000 EXTRA houses a year adn all that!

Greens must be so happy today -- most of Nationals canned roads back on deck -- and jack shit for them in comparison

Yeah it is the next generation I feel sorry for. This do nothing new infrastructure spend up means they will have to do more in less time.

What this country needs is a 4 lane super highway from Wrongaway ... down the guts of the NI to Welly Tin .. from Pick Don .....down the east coast of the SI ... all the way to Invergiggle ...

Ka Boooom . .. a large part of our transportation problems solved right there ....

Super State Hwy # 1 : the Kiwi Expressway .... let's do this !