Gareth Hughes

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

by Gareth Hughes

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?