Sunday, May 19, 2024

MP: Delivery is key to second Auckland Harbour crossing

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National supports a second Auckland Harbour crossing but questions Labour’s ability to deliver given their track record. Photo Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency

Labour’s rushed announcement of a second Auckland Harbour crossing is nothing but a desperate attempt to distract from their failures, National’s Transport spokesperson Simeon Brown says.

“National supports a second Auckland Harbour crossing but questions Labour’s ability to deliver given their track record,” the Pakuranga MP says.

“Labour has failed to start and complete one single major infrastructure project since they have been in government.

“They started then cancelled the Auckland Cycle Bridge. They promised Auckland Light Rail by 2021 but have yet to deliver a single metre of track. They promised 100,000 KiwiBuild homes and have delivered just over 2000.

“National is the party of infrastructure. In Auckland, we delivered the Waterview Tunnel, upgraded the North-Western and South-Western motorways, electrified the Auckland Rail Network, and left Labour with a pipeline of Auckland infrastructure projects which they haven’t completed including:

  • The City Rail Link.
  • State Highway upgrades.
  • The Eastern busway.
  • The Puhoi to Warkworth motorway connection.

“National believes that projects delivered are much more important than projects announced.

“National has a proven track record of delivering important infrastructure projects in Auckland and we will continue this legacy if elected to government in October.”

ACT Leader David Seymour echoes Brown’s concerns.

“Chris Hipkins needs to show what has changed to make the fast-tracking of a new Auckland harbour crossing a realistic proposal, otherwise it will just seem like an opportunistic distraction from the many issues within his Government,” says Seymour.

“No one will deny another crossing over the Auckland Harbour would be a great thing. But what have they done to make an early crossing possible other than wishing? When did they start working on this change? If it it’s possible, why didn’t they do it earlier?

“Hipkins appears to be taking a leaf from the Ardern playbook, making ad-hoc populist infrastructure decisions in the leadup to an election.

“Remember Auckland Light Rail? The Government has spent five years trying to figure out how to make a political promise from Jacinda Ardern work. In the process money and resources has been moved away from road building, projects have been cancelled, rescoped and deferred, fuel taxes increased, and regions neglected.

“It is also at odds with a Cabinet Paper on the Government’s ‘refreshed’ priorities, which says “now is not the time…to embark on significant new infrastructure projects”.

Seymour says New Zealand can’t afford to have infrastructure used as a political football.

“ACT would take the politics out of transport and infrastructure and get central and local government working together through 30-year infrastructure partnerships, devolving revenue and responsibility to regional governments and the private sector, while strengthening accountability and oversight from central government,” says Seymour.

“We need investment in high-quality infrastructure to boost jobs, wages and growth. But the current arrangements for delivering infrastructure are inadequate and politicised.

“The long-term nature of these plans will insulate infrastructure from political pressures. Infrastructure, with its very long time horizons, is unsuited to decision-making by politician beset by three-year tunnel vision. By setting plans decades in advance, we can avoid the on-again, off-again uncertainty created by the political cycle which deters councils and private infrastructure investors from undertaking ambitious projects.

“Politicians – left and right – have chosen where to build roads, bridges, and railway lines, based on political advantage rather than economic need. New Zealanders deserve better than this uncertainty.”

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