The skirmish that has broken out between Mike Lee and Steven Joyce could well herald the opening of an all out war.
Len Brown came into office on a platform (among other things) of advocating strongly for public transport investment, with a key project being the CDB rail loop to open up the ‘dead end’ that is Britomart, which will reduce the congestion in the inner city area that imposes significant cost on businesses as well as compromising the ability of people to get around quickly and easily.
The government routinely tells us that economic success in Auckland is critical to the wellbeing of the national economy, and yet they are resisting an investment that would offer a significant economic benefit, as well as future proofing the city against the inevitable rise in fuel costs associated with peak oil and our response to climate change.
To say that the investment in the CBD loop must wait until an annual operating deficit is ‘resolved’ differs remarkably from the government’s approach to funding new roads. Is the minister suggesting that the direct return on investment in road building is positive, and therefore we can continue spending freely on any roading project that grabs his fancy? That’s a set of figures I would very much like to see!
Rodney Hide’s primary excuse for inflicting his Supercity model on Aucklanders was that having multiple local authorities led to fragmentation, stalled decisions, and no progress on key regional infrastructure, especially transport. Now we have a newly elected mayor with a massive popular mandate, who campaigned on developing rail, and it is central government that is finding excuses not to engage in a meaningful way to advance a necessary and otherwise well supported project.
Couldn’t possibly be sour grapes that the ‘wrong’ mayor won, could it?