Northland is getting $20.39m from the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF), $19.41 million of which is to upgrade transport links because Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says:
“Reliable transport infrastructure is crucial to Northland’s economic success as it affects every part of the region’s economy. Strengthening transport links is critical to fully unlocking the potential of the North and enable new opportunities for local people and business. . . “
Transport infrastructure, or what the rest of us call roads, is the business of government which is more than can be said for a lot of the initiatives to benefit from the PGF but this raises questions about the government’s roading priorities:
The investment from the Provincial Growth fund for transport links in Kaipara will no doubt be welcomed by local residents but the Government’s overall approach to roading in Northland makes no sense, National’s spokesperson for Transport Paul Goldsmith says.
“The reality is that although the Government has provided this funding, it is not going to build the key road that the region needs – the highly engineered four lane highway from Wellsford to Whangarei.
“On the one hand the Government is going to continue to drip feed funding for a half measure, a single laned highway to Whangarei, frustrating all Northlanders, and at the same time sporadically throw a bit of money from the Provincial Growth Fund to favoured regions.
“This is part and parcel of the politicisation of the fund from Shane Jones with a bias to particular regions. . .
The four lane highway would be more expensive than the roading improvements around Kaipara but it would also would give the biggest benefit to most people and contribute most to both road safety and economic growth.
The package also gives money to develop Maori land.
“The extra capital for the development of Māori land will be welcomed by Māori – it’s a pity however, that the Government has axed the Te Ture Whenua Māori reforms which would have added hundreds of millions of dollars of value for Māori landowners and their whanau by unlocking the economic potential of the around 1.4 million hectares of land.
“We should be wary of the PGF becoming the banker of last resort for general business or Māori land owners.”
We should be very wary of the PGF doing anything at all without establishing the need, costs and benefits.