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Government's transport package takes the wind out of the Opposition's sails, but new promises put it under more pressure to deliver

Government's transport package takes the wind out of the Opposition's sails, but new promises put it under more pressure to deliver
Phil Twyford, Jacinda Ardern, Grant Robertson

By Jenée Tibshraeny

Labour and NZ First have pocketed political wins from Wednesday’s big infrastructure project reveal.   

The Coalition Government has taken the wind out of the Opposition’s sails; Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern now adopting National’s “we’re the party of infrastructure” line.

Both the business community and unions are broadly pleased with the $6.8 billion of transport projects to be brought forward and funded.

The Government is now under pressure to execute its plans well.

With KiwiBuild under-delivering and it still being undecided whether the New Zealand Transport Agency or New Zealand Super Fund will run the Auckland light rail project, the public’s tolerance for teething problems/stuff-ups related to much-needed infrastructure is near zero.

The same goes for the construction sector, which is crying out for certainty and continuity.  

Some of the transport projects announced on Wednesday were consented under the National-led Government, and some were earmarked in the second phase of its Roads of National Significance, criticised by Labour when in opposition.

Even though the designs of these projects have been “improved”, National leader Simon Bridges can legitimately claim parts of the Coalition Government’s big reveal are a “copy” of his party’s plans.

He also makes a fair point that the Government wasted time “tearing up these plans and putting them back together again”.

But the reality is, these roads weren’t built under National, so in the eyes of the public (which just want the work done), the Coalition Government comes out on top.

Bridges said National will “go even further” on infrastructure investment.

But the question is, where will it get the money from, especially as it wants to borrow less as a portion of gross domestic product (GDP) than the Government is.

National is open to public private partnerships. It also wants to introduce “revenue neutral” congestion charging, which it will need to pitch carefully so it doesn’t get slammed for going back on its word and introducing a “tax”.  

But the Government has left National little to attack it over in election year when it comes to this new infrastructure spend.

NZ First one-ups the Greens

NZ First leader Winston Peters was chipper at Wednesday’s announcement and even had to be dragged away from the media by NZ First MP Shane Jones (who made his presence known) to get to his next engagement.  

Just over $1b was secured for rail, as well as $692m to upgrade SH1, Whangarei to Port Marsden, to four lanes.

Questions were raised at the press conference over whether this signalled the Government was leaning towards moving the Ports of Auckland north.

Cabinet is expected to report back on the matter in May. It wasn’t sold on a working group recommendation last year to move the operation to Northport, as NZ First wishes.

As for the Green Party, it looked a bit like the neglected sibling in the Coalition Government family.

While some of the roading upgrades will include cycle and walkways, some investment is going into public transport, and funding has been committed to the Skypath over the Auckland Harbour Bridge, the transport package is unashamedly road-heavy.

The party's co-leader James Shaw acknowledged if he could have things his way, the mix of projects would look different. 

He characteristically kept face, but will yet again have to tell Green supporters something to the tune of: “We know it isn’t perfect, but we’re doing what we can within the bounds of the political system.”

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We need to progress into the golden age of rail transport and sailing ships. I've already had my childhood stolen, and now everybody is building more roads. How dare you¿


“Think Big!” Now who can remember who said that?

... and what about the trebuchet .... we could just catapult people from one city to the next ... no need for roads ..

You stole my childhood .... stop this , stop it now ...

Stole the roads off National, and the slogan,

What was that about a fair, positive campaign?

'It's only words and words are all I have'

The lady in the picture looks like AOC.

A resemblance yes but Cortez a genuine hard arse me thinks, not just a queen of hugs.

It looks like she is struggling with the evacuation of Kiwis from virus china to their quarantine at Christmas Island detention centre.

“I spoke with Prime Minister Morrison again this afternoon and we have confirmed that we will work together on a joint ANZAC assisted departure of Australians and New Zealanders from Wuhan,” Jacinda Ardern said.

“Specific details of the evacuation plan, including the medical protocols that will be applied to returning New Zealanders, and access arrangements on the ground in China are being worked through by officials.”

J Shaws reads like a religious text, the god of climate, appeasing the climate god....

But hey if they don't follow me on twitter, whatever!

Fozzie is right there though. Reminds me of my father’s description of some (only a few thankfully) fellow WW2 officers. Front line for medals, behind the lines for action.

Fail to deliver on their projects and use Nat policies to point out Nat dosent deliver.
That is as dirty as it gets and another failed promise from Jacinda.
At least this time it didn't take a year or two and tens millions of dollars before the truth came out.

National was delivering road of national significance. Labour canceled any stages not yet begun when they came into power. Under national some of these roads would already be well underway.

I could never vote for them, but I appreciate the outcome here, including the joy of thinking about the angst the Greens have in their camp. This is a huge win for the silent voter. Expect more to come.

How do you know what the silent voter wants? Where did you learn mind reading on country wide scale? I want to take that course.

Nobody knows what the silent voter wants because they are silent.

National hadn't funded the roads that were cancelled. So, they were more of a "working group" kind of level.

Also, the East West link had no business case that made any sense.

The life of a project starts well before the digger revs up.

"Working Group"... um.. no.. they had been consented. Just National hadnt earmarked money for them.

Honestly, the party is so devoid of ideas.. when it realised if cant deliver on its own promises they have now decided to pick up Nationals ideas

Earmarked sounds so much better than working group, in fairness. Very nice word.

Let's hope roads are allowed that have a reasonable business case, however, rather than the likes of the East-West Road for Mates.

To think, only a few years ago commenters on the NBR were criticising John Key for taking and running with Labour policies. "Labour Lite" was the term used then.

Both parties are pretty much the same, and have been for as long as I can remember. A few different trimmings but fundamentally no difference.

People do like to group themselves over the most trivial things though.


Many of these projects are already "ready to go" because they were being progressed by the previous Government. One would think that it would be difficult to screw it up at this point - all the Government needs to do is stand back and let NZTA do its job and deliver. But light rail was in a similar situation - progressing well under AT/NZTA - yet some how, astonishingly, Phil managed to get the project "off the rails". Lets hope they don't find a way to screw this up against the odds.

'Astonishingly' .... are you really ? Given Twyford's catastrophic failure on Kiwibuild.

" Fulton " Phil will thrust his chin out , look down to the camera and pronounce ... " let's do this " ...

... Soyman will be blubbing in the sandpit ... " those kids stole my home work ! " ..... bwahhhhh ....


Meanwhile Roberston chortles 'pinching the nats roading strategy is a masterstroke but we didn't copy the South Island bit because there's no votes in it for Shane or us'.

And Shane will stand in Whangarei & Labour will do an Epsom there. As predictable as the tide.

Robertson chucking hundreds of millions at the rail and road links to Northport is as good as telling Whangarei voters that a shiny new container terminal is coming to your place courtesy of Jones.

Soyman should be saying...
These guys are doing my home work for me... my ideas & plans are great.

Though we all know they are a bit hopeless, like Tom & Barbara Good

This means I still will have to fix & complete it, That's my job.
Let's get it done!....

Love it, 'Fulton Phil'

I'm guessing the writing is on the wall for a screwup. They haven't had time to recalculate / tender the contracts, so they either guessed or used the past budget projections.
So now it will come down to screwing Joe and Sarah Blogs on the coal face and bring staff in from overseas when they can not find enough staff to work for a pittance.

It's the other way round, poor cost control, low productivity and many contract variations.

Think about my post yesterday for large projects the ones with the most risk, known and unknown. Those ones, all their residual risk is happily taken by NZTA. - that's your toxic waste.

There is not a single democratically elected government in the western world can direct a country's development path, which is pretty much like tossing it into the air and let it gone with the wind.

CCP is the probably the only party being capable of leading a country to prosperity and the world to a better place.


All of us better get used to wearing face masks 24/7 then


Health crises, crumbling infrastructure, mass government coverups, toxic pollution, concentration camps.

But hey Shanghai has some shiny neon buildings.

You are either blind or still living in 30 to 40 years ago.

Time stops for you. Congrats!

No, this is 2020. It is sad for the people of China, especially Wuhan. Hopefully, it doesn't last long.


And after this word from our sponsors, we now return you to the scheduled programming..

See reality is subjective.

No - reality is not subjective - the truth exists only the interpretation is subjective.

Well said, BadRobot. There's a widening contemporary trend to privilege subjective preference over objective reality, feeling over everything.


You can get a few fresh slogans for the CCP, xingmowang, by looking up Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia.


And some tips on Gulag Construction techniques.....


Lee Kuan Yew is widely respected by CCP leaders since Deng Xiao Ping.

CCP still send officials to Singapore for training from time to time.

However, the scale and complexity of issues faced by CCP is 1000 times more than ones faced by Singapore government.

The CCP certainly have some challenges.
China remains a lower-middle income country with an ageing population.
It's environment is poor and much of the country is third world. Sanitation is poor, which is obviously a factor in these outbreaks.

... who is there to hear the last cry of a baby before she dies ... abandoned , or killed by her own daddy ... 'cos she had the stupidity to be born a girl , and not a boy ..

A consequence of the one child policy ... brought to you by the brains trust of your wonderful CCP ... no one wants a girl ... only a boy can carry on the family name ...

... is this scenario your vision of a well run country's development path ?

Singapore is an excellent example of a democratic government that has maintained and executed a national vision for the better part of a century, taking them from essentially a fishing village to a world leader in health and technology.

Note the words 'democratic government, maintained, executed, and national vision.' Yes it can be done.

@xingmowang we should follow the lead, harvest more organs to fund the big infrastructures...


I don't think the electorate is going to swallow that Labour is the party of infrastructure. It would take more than reinstating the policies of their predecessor which they cancelled to get there, and especially so given how wary the electorate is of anything that comes out of this lot's mouths.

There's nothing new and inspirational in the entire package to distract from the fact that these guys have no (good) ideas of their own.

And that will certainly be the obvious attack mantra for the Nats.
'They stole our ideas which are great but you can't trust this lot to deliver. Reference A - Kiwibuild. Reference B - light rail.'


You'd haveta have a heart of stone not to larf like a drain at the Green's dilemma. Forced to stand in line, waiting for the Infrastructure Crumbs to be swept off the table after the Main Course, then alternately putting a Brave Face on it (ooh, Delicious Crumbs!) and bemoaning the emphasis on Roads to the Nowheres like Queenstown, Te Anau, Milford, Nelson, Collingwood and the SI Glaciers. All of which destinations, in their eyes, should have Rail (light, heavy, mono or wooden) to their doorsteps.....It would be very easy for them to get labelled the 'Anti-Tourism Party'....

Hypocrisy , ie their muteness on a key issue of principle, is not really funny. It's ugly.


But middleman, the more vocal the Greens become, the more votes they lose. Their extreme ideology isn't attractive to the electorate. They just rely on the ignorance of those who think they're "helping the environment".

You can tell they're in a first term government by how quiet they've been.

They were plenty vocal in the run up to the last election when a chunky 6.3% of voters either bought their extreme ideology or mindlessly gave a green tick because green is good, right. They were closely involved in kneecapping our transport energy industry and Shaw recently demanded the economy be dealt an $8bn blow by cutting our dairy industry in half. Carbon heavy tourism is not a cause celebre for them because its emissions are 'out there somewhere' so no voter brownie points available and it might upset the urban leafy suburb voter support base who do looove to holiday in the Maldives. Selective silence. Hypocrisy.

Nobody goes to jail for hypocrisy, I think it's often a tell for a massive crack in the underlying thinking. And the crack is the problem.


... give them their fair dues . . The Greens were able to shut down our prosperous natural gas industry ... $ billions will eventually be lost ... and thousands upon thousands of well paid jobs ( retrain as baristas , you fossil fuel heads ! ) ... theres a win for them ...

And they did stall the Gnats RONS programme for 2 & a half years ... less global warming for those 2.5 years ... kinda like a win there ...

Higher emissions from gridlocked traffic and slower cargo movements. I guess in the luddite green world that'd be construed as a 'win'.

What it means to be green
Patrick Moore.

When Helmut Kohl got voted out when Germany went MMP and the Greens were a COL partner they held a party meeting to decide their future. Some wanted to recycle more and others wanted to go back to horses and everything in between.
The brawl ensued ...
It seams that the Greens here are very much the same. Bring in the next group of school kids who want to change the world....

The greens often forget the science.

More than 100 Nobel laureates have signed a letter urging Greenpeace to end its opposition to genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

The letter asks Greenpeace to cease its efforts to block introduction of a genetically engineered strain of rice that supporters say could reduce Vitamin-A deficiencies causing blindness and death in children in the developing world.

Throwing red paint of fur coats did a massive amount of harm to the NZ possum fur industry. That wasn't idea or green.

At least 1080 poison provides a viable solution for that, if the anti-1080 anti-science nutters out there will let it happen.

It would be interesting to see if they've run the investment returns on providing adequate mental health, preventative healthcare, special education support, school lunches, domestic violence prevention, vocational courses for the unemployed & low wage, retraining allowances for people laid off etc...

I can't help but feel that 12bn social investment would have at least a similar impact to building more roads, would be great to see this scale of investment in human capital not just physical capital.

37% of prisoners have a learning disability, up to 57% are dyslexic, many with mental health issues, many won't have had proper nutrition growing up, a warm home, parents stressed because they don't have sufficient money to put food on the table or fighting with each other. There's no mystery why 95% of prisoners are where they are, taking one prisoner out of prison and putting them on the average wage that's a $150,000 improvement in our bottom line (going from -$90,000 p.a. to $50,000).

Feels like when they run the numbers it's on votes. Votes earned, vote returns. Votes.

Roads good! The poor, mentally unwell, criminals bad! (thumps chest)

Less so money launderers and white collar criminals.

They look and sound like me so they must be ok - just a minor error of judgment I'm sure...

Many thousands of people from dysfunctional backgrounds, with learning difficulties and mental challenges are NOT in prison. You on average need over 40 convictions to end up there.

Imagine how productive we'd be as a country if they were helped too?

Imagine if we made a significant/sufficient investment in turning peoples lives around on their 1st, 2nd or 3rd conviction - there are better systems than what we currently use available that have been proven to work, some have even been trialed and have been successful but are often discontinued to to a lack of funding. You don't turn someones life around by throwing them $5 and crossing your fingers.

And in any community there is a group of hard core recidivist offenders incapable of reform no matter how much money is thrown at them. Many people with 40+ convictions are contenders for that category. Little says there is a large number of offenders who shouldn't be in jail but hasn't supplied data to back that statement. I hope he's right and that we can genuinely help reform some of the incarcerated 10K people but I'm not holding my breath that his rhetoric will be matched by a credible strategy . At some point you have to conclude that money being thrown at trying to change resistant people would be better spent in other areas of social need.

The reality is (unfortunately) that your ability to prevent recidivism decreases exponentially over time and the cost of doing so increases exponentially. I agree that there are many hardcore criminals in Jail that we likely won't ever be able to reform - we can't go back in time and change their lives. There are some people who may be able to reform and return to society better than they went into prison (rehabilitation needs significant work) but in reality our best hope of a lower future prison population is intervening before they even commit their first crime by addressing the causative factors and if so heavily engaging when they do.


Anyone who swallows Jacinda's "we're the party of infrastructure" line would have to be a complete numpty.

Everyone with half a brain knows that mainly what she has done is resurrect projects she binned two years ago.

In any case, how can anyone have confidence in Labour's ability to deliver anything? Weren't we supposed to have light rail to Auckland Airport by the end of 2020? Last I heard, it is now looking like 2030.

Delaying the delivery of a project by a whole decade in just a bit over 2 years is real genius.

This is where journalism fails.

Who asked the Question - Wasn't Kiwibuild Infrastructure?

It is clear they can neither build or deliver. Reminds me of

I won't vote for these muppets again.
I'll vote Nats if I get a tax cut bribe.
Otherwise, I will cross out the lot of the bastards!


What a joke, cannot get rid of this lot fast enough. So the party that cancelled every roading project for 2 and a half years that had not already be started by National thinks it just got a win ? Thank god the northern toll road got started before this lot got in. Its got 2 more years to run, looks like National will be in again to see it completed.

it would be good to get the next section ready for building so that the workers can just move up the road,
but we are NZ and don't do things like that

Dear Jenée, an announcement is one thing. But delivery is what counts. Jacinda is the mouth-piece from the left. It's her job to sell it to the media & the great unwashed. That moment took place yesterday. She hasn't sold it to the great unwashed, although by your comments above it looks like she sold it to the media.
Come on girl, you've watched what's happened over the past 2 years - absolutely nothing of any real value to the country of NZ what-so-ever. There's another 10,000 public servants, there's more thugs on the streets & there's no way on God's earth they can possibly can claim to be the party of infrastructure.
They can be the party of delayed infrastructure.

After a couple of years in power it should be obvious to every one that
cuddles and frowns can't build anything.

C'mon Jenee .........." the party of infrastructure " ?

Kiwibuild .major housing infrastructure ............not a single house built , those 100 they claim credit for were consented under National

Light Rail .............. where ?

Roads ................... not a single road consented since coming to power .

Rail .............. all talk in the budget , no action so far

Sorry , but the coaltion of losers could not organize a piss-up on an orientation week .........

We need to get rid of this utterly incompetent administration as soon as possible , and 19 September is the date to execute this ..........

"Two parties of infrastructure"
1/ those that can and do
2/ those that can't and don't
Pretty clear which is in power.

Thank goodness the people didn't let National get away with their desire to cancel the Waterview tunnel, eh Foyle?

I can tell you for a fact there was nothing shovel ready under the previous National Govt beyond the existing Rons programme, everything else was unfunded or not even costed. Don't forget National was found out to be sweating any asset it could in order to avoid spending and deliver their 'paper surpluses' year after year. Just like the leaking pipes at Middlemore Hospital, National are full of shit.

You're absolutely right.
Unless of course you count Christchurch and their many billions of investment dollars (2016 Treasury estimate $40bn) as infrastructure spend but I guess it doesn't suit your narrative does it.......
Also as a side note, the last government left an $8bn surplus which got blown, now requiring massive borrowing ($12bn here, and $7bn in Kainga Ora borrowing off the books) to be able to start what National planned and could have almost funded with the first surplus...

The earthquake spending doesn't really count - it was largely either EQC or insurance funds. There was very little spending on new infrastructure either, basically just replacing what was broken. Case and point of the extension to CHCH Hospital (Which still hasnt opened) - this will simply replace existing capacity in the crumbling older hospital and when it does open it will not add any extra capacity to the region. No future planning at all.

The reality is that the government imposed plans for post quake Christchurch were Wellington driven and involved very little local input. The National Government has left Christchurch in a hell of a state - with ongoing EQC and Southern Response issues still continuing today and its grand plans leaving a very expensive legacy, which means that Local government in Canterbury will be left heavily in debt for generations to come to pay for it all.

Not to mention the endless delays to the projects have basicly caused the private sector to give up on investment plans of their own.

A major reason for delaying a lot of roaring projects was the Kaikoura earthquake. That work is coming to an end, so they are providing ongoing work.

No its not, that damage could easily have been paid for by govt bonds but the govt of the day National... wouldn't even repair the napier gisborne railway line after storm damage much less borrow more debt because it might have endangered the paper surpluses they were running, the kaikoura quake, if anthing showed up just how visionless the Key govt really were.

It wasn't about paying for it, it was the fact almost every bit of earthmoving equipment in the lower north island went south to help out.there simply wasn't the capacity to build more roads anyway.

Lab played the cards nicely, albeit borrowing Nat idea/plan... which forever be just that.. a plan.. a promise, 9yrs nothing eventuated. The big infra spending designed to span for 5 yrs, means, another two more elections, and? have a look around the country now, even a little road hole by the side of the kerb? being patched, all those field workers, enjoy the sudden income activities the past 9 months & further 9 months forward. Surely all will vote to Lab because of it, their spouses, family etc. - Check it, ask them who they vote for. Nat Co. is the party for Lawyers, Bankers, Money launderer, Real Estate related industries. I rarely met a middle income professionals that can recall the past 9yrs of Nat Co. - If they ever receive a meaningful pay increase.

Somehow National needs to convince more people to vote for it than last time. With no coalition partners (other than ACT) it will take a historical landslide for this to happen. I also don't buy the idea that Act could win two or more seats (This is the same thing that has been said every recent election).

If they plan to come to election crying that Labour etc stole their ideas, that wont resonate well with the voters and they will fail. To do something historical they will need to be bold, revolutionary and it will need to have wide appeal to convince not just their base or the centre but also some centre left voters to vote for them instead.

In this age of risk-adverse politicians who prefer sound-bites and social media posts, I just cannot see how National can win this election, especially now that the biggest points of difference that they had, have gone.

There are a lot of voters on right who are very angry at National over recent supine response to various Coalition legislation. Act is going to surge (Reid Research currently polling)

The politicians in NZ couldn't deliver a pizza