Infrastructure in New Zealand, as we all know, is at a crisis point. The issues are multi-generational and systemic.
Infrastructure as a word sounds boring to many people, but it impacts our daily lives and makes a huge impact on our economic, social and environmental wellbeing.
To illustrate that, life in Auckland has been seriously impacted by poor infrastructure over the last year.
For example, an accident on the bridge forced residents to work from home for two weeks, emergency railway line maintenance was announced the day before it commenced severely impacting commuters, the city has water restrictions due to deferred infrastructure investment, the port is failing to operate at capacity causing supply shortages, rising congestion is making the city increasingly unnavigable and many Auckland beaches were unswimmable again this summer due to poor sewerage infrastructure.
At last week’s Transport & Infrastructure Committee, I unearthed – in the discussion with NZTA – that they have advised the Minister that “further strengthening of the Auckland Harbour Bridge is no longer possible” and that “the structural integrity of the bridge is likely to require some restrictions on heavy vehicles in the future”.
This means the harbour bridge is at its limit with no ability to handle more traffic, but there is also no costed or timed plan for a second harbour crossing. There is no agreement even on whether a second crossing should be a tunnel or another bridge.
My frustration is that while we will continue to have population growth in Auckland, we have no masterplan or strategic management of the harbour crossing which is so important to both the future of Auckland and New Zealand.
Unfortunately, this poor long-term strategic planning for infrastructure is a theme across Botany, Auckland and New Zealand. We sadly have a “band-aid and No. 8 wire” approach. That has to change if we are to build the world-class country we all want to see emerge in the 2030s and beyond.
In closing, it is extremely frustrating for all of us to be back in lockdown again. I can’t help reflect that if we had Taiwan-styled tracing technology, broad scale saliva and waste water testing and had secured the vaccine in December, like 50 other countries, and undertaken an Israeli-style vaccination programme, whereby 50 per cent of their 9 million people have been vaccinated within two months, we could be in an even stronger position.
What we can do now is take personal responsibility and follow the rules to keep ourselves and others safe. On a positive note, after a week of insane traffic around our Covid testing site at Botany Road, it was good to see a second testing site at Lloyd Elsmore open up over the weekend.
Have a great week.
- Christopher Luxon, MP for Botany