by Gareth Hughes
Often when talking about the Government’s uneconomic and frankly dumb transport policy to people a common response is ‘well, that’s because the Road Transport Forum donate so much to the National Party.’
Yesterday I ran a bake sale outside Britomart to help Auckland buy back the National Party from the road and truck lobby and highlight the Governments obsession with new motorways. It was a bit of a humorous way of asking ‘does Auckland need to fundraise to influence Government transport policy for the projects it needs, such as the CBD loop?’
Before the last election, the Road Transport Forum was the largest single election year donor to the National Party, donating $30,000 to the party and more to individual MPs including Climate Change Minister Nick Smith. While the rest of the country tightens its belt, Road Transport Forum members benefit from a bonanza of borrowed Government dollars on new projects, many totally uneconomic as Rod Oram pointed out last November. Given the large financial contributions they make, is it a surprise Transport Minister Steven Joyce is pouring billions of borrowed dollars into uneconomic motorways, yet failing to fund Auckland’s CBD Rail Loop?
We got a great reception from the public, because as polls, and the local body election showed, Auckland needs and wants the CBD Rail Loop – a far more important project for true economic development than the Puhoi to Wellsford Holiday Highway.
Transport projects should be prioritised based on their economic merits and benefits to Kiwis, not favours for donors.