- By Simeon Brown, Member of Parliament for Pakuranga
I wanted to start my first column in 2024 by wishing you all a Happy New Year!
I hope you have had a chance to spend some time with family and friends over the holiday period, and refresh for the year ahead.
I enjoyed a few weeks relaxing with my family after a hectic election year and campaign, but it’s time now to look forward and get back to work on behalf of all New Zealanders.
The National-led Government has a lot to get done this year as we continue cleaning up the mess left behind by Labour.
A major announcement to kick off the year was the formal cancellation of Labour’s Auckland Light Rail plan, which would have cost taxpayers anywhere between $15 billion and $29.2 billion.
With $228 million already spent and almost nothing to show for it in six years, it was clear this project was going nowhere and would see no beneficial return on its proposed investment.
Auckland Light Rail Limited has been instructed to immediately cease work on the project and begin taking steps to wind up the company, ending the wasteful spending and freeing up resources for other transport projects.
National’s view on this has always been clear – greater investment into our transport network is needed, but expensive light rail that would service only a small proportion of Aucklanders is not the solution to our congestion issues.
What New Zealand needs is infrastructure that will reduce congestion, boost productivity and create a more reliable and resilient transport network that drives economic growth.
Our focus is on building a rapid transit network in Auckland, including completion of the City Rail Link, which was started by the last National Government, and starting work on a Northwest Rapid Transit corridor, alongside other projects to deliver reduced congestion for Aucklanders.
Work is underway on rewriting the Government Policy Statement on land transport to reflect these priorities so that we can focus on delivering the infrastructure our country needs.
It’s going to be a very busy year for the Government!