Why won’t National listen to Auckland on CBD rail link?

I was astonished that a few weeks back Auckland MPs voted against inviting the Auckland Council to submit on the CBD rail link debate. I can only talk about it now because the report containing my minority report was tabled in Parliament today.

The Transport and Industrial Relations Select Committee was discussing my petition to fast-track the CBD rail link. The committee had already decided that both The Ministry of Transport (MOT) and the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) should be invited to submit on whether or not the government should fund this project based on their research.

However only asking information from MOT and NZTA gave the committee just one side of the story.

I put forward an unsuccessful motion that the Auckland Council should also be able to make a submission on funding for the CBD rail link. Its important to hear from them because they too have prepared an in-depth and internationally-peer reviewed report (unlike the MOT/NZTA’s ‘in-house’ one) and have started the designation process for the link. However, the National MPs on the committee voted to prevent this.

I found it particularly ironic that, of the MPs who voted against, 3 out of the 5 were Aucklanders themselves. Just what are Tau Henare, Jami-lee Ross and Jacqui Blue going to say to their constituents wanting the link? What’s National Party select committee chair David Bennett going to tell his Hamilton constituents who recently found out their rail link to Auckland would terminate at a station that closed ten years ago because Britomart station was at capacity without the rail link?

So why are the National MPs in Auckland so scared of hearing what the Auckland Council has to say? Is it because they know that the public sees the CBD rail loop as being more of a priority for Auckland than their uneconomic Puhoi to Wellsford Holiday Highway?

Why is the Transport Select Committee leaving it up to a Wellingtonian to advocate for Auckland’s voice to be heard?

Do they fear that the council could easily pick holes in the assumptions they made in their own, deeply biased and not internationally peer-reviewed review of the CBD rail link business case? What do you think?

11 Comments Posted

  1. I doubt Cullen would have questioned Auckland seeking to improve its rail network, after all Cullen bought Kiwi Rail so investment in rail could occur.

    Unlike National Labour is not seeking to direct Auckalnd transport spending to assist property developers owning land north of Auckland.

  2. @insider – spending on a decent transport system would have helped avoid the chaos that happened on Auckland’s rail system about half an hour after you posted your comment.

    And if you want to start discussing “spending up large”, shall we start talking about the Holiday Highway? Or Wellington’s Basin Reserve flyover, which will become as much of an eyesore than Auckland’s Victoria Park and Lower Hobson St flyovers?

    Incidentally, the Lower Hobson St flyover is now on the cards to be torn down, because it’s so ugly.

  3. The state of transport options in our biggest city is a disgrace ! The rugby world cup will highlight this.. More roads is NOT the best option, especially when o/seas visitors are used to having effective public transport !! Kia-ora

  4. @ Andrew

    Simply the Govt doesn’t trust Len Brown and the rest of the council. This is not new. They don’t trust any council that tries to spend up large either with central govt funds or in a way that will force central govt to bail them out or risk an electoral backlash, so they try to protect the councils from themselves. I heard Cullen espouse exactly the same view so it’s not just a Nat thing.

  5. I am particularly offended by the current government’s determination to construct the Puhoi to Wellsford “Holiday Highway” even though there is no compelling case for doing so, while they are not interested in constructing the CBD rail link even though it is clear that that project actually should proceed.

    And what is even worse about the Puhoi to Wellsford Highway is the current government’s intention to sell publicly owned assets in order to help pay for it. It is highly disturbing that none of the local mass media have seen fit to refer to that aspect and to subsequently condemn the government – and even worse, a recent editorial in the “New Zealand Herald” has even suggested that Steven Joyce is a competent member of the Cabinet.

    I can only hope that the current government will be shown the door at the next election, but unfortunately one would need to be rather optimistic to surmise that such an outcome will be at all likely. One thing that I have decided to do though (and since reading a snide editorial concerning inheritance taxes which was published earlier on this year) is to never buy any copy of the “New Zealand Herald”, on the basis that if I was ever to do so, then that would make me an accessory to the blatant and shameless propaganda which they disseminate.

  6. The Herald article referred to is here

    On Friday, at a meeting between Cabinet ministers and Auckland councillors, sources say the ministers couldn’t stop browbeating the councillors over the error of their ways.

    “Quite intimidating and smalltown,” said one.

    Fronting the critics was Environment Minister and Nelson MP Nick Smith, backed by Transport Minister Steven Joyce and Whangarei-based Housing Minister Phil Heatley.

    When it is finalised in a few weeks, Aucklanders will be asked to comment. The issue is, what then?

    It was this Government that forced through the legislation creating the Super City, and ordained that it should have an over-arching spatial plan to guide its future.

    The Government wanted a strong single voice for Auckland. One with a plan. It has both. Will it never be happy?


  7. Apparently the National Party is trying to do the same thing to debate in parliament as well and some do not want this issue raised by anyone.

  8. The National Party bullet point line is that government is big daddy dictating to Auckland children when they don’t vote the right people into positions of governance in Auckland. Apparently some Nats met with council reps and tried to bully them out of support for public transport.

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