National leader Judith Collins has announced a $31 billion infrastructure package to get New Zealand moving:
About half ($17 billion) would be invested in the upper North Island – home to half of all New Zealanders.
“Auckland and the Upper North Island are broken by congestion, worsened by the current Government’s incompetence, and everyone knows it,” Ms Collins says.
“Congestion means goods being delivered late to our ports, parents being late to pick up the kids from rugby practice, and a tradie only doing two, rather than four, cross-town trips per day.”
This has a huge cost in human, economic and environmental terms.
To fix this, Ms Collins said National would go ahead with everything Labour has said it will do in transport – with the exception of Phil Twyford’s light-rail Ghost Trains, and the probable exception of the $360 million Skypath 2 – but would go much further.
First, Ms Collins said National would connect Whangarei, Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga with four-lane expressways – including tunnels under the Brynderwyn and Kaimai mountain ranges – to create a genuinely integrated region of 2.5 million New Zealanders.
“National’s vision is to transform the four cities to be one economic powerhouse, unlocking their potential so the upper North Island becomes Australasia’s most dynamic region.”
Second, Ms Collins announced National would complete Auckland’s rapid transit network, including rail to the airport and new busways, as envisaged by its former mayors Sir Dove Myer-Robinson and Len Brown, and former Auckland Regional Council chairman Mike Lee.
“One rough definition of a city is that it is a place you can get from one side to the other in an hour, or a place that the average time to get to work is 30 minutes. National will measure our progress against the goals of 30 minutes to get to work and one hour to get across the city.”
Third, Ms Collins announced work towards an additional harbour crossing would begin immediately, with the intention of work beginning on the ground in 2028.
“National’s Plan is that the crossing should be a tunnel or tunnels, and be for both road and rail, and new public transport technologies that come on line.”
Ms Collins announced Auckland’s ferry network would be expanded to reduce congestion on road and rail. National’s Plan also includes new walking and cycling links as well as expanded park-and-ride facilities.
National’s projects will be sequenced over the next decade and beyond, but work will also begin immediately on $300 million worth of digger-ready projects in Auckland – and throughout the country in 2021 – to fix potholes, roundabouts, and crash corners.
The $17 billion earmarked for the Auckland and upper North Island projects, and the $14b for soon-to-be-announced projects in the southern half of the country, would come from the current Government’s Covid fund. NZTA will also be allowed to better leverage its balance sheet by borrowing up to $1 billion a year, and there will be tolls on the new Brynderwyn, Waitemata and Kaimai tunnels.
Ms Collins said her Government would be different from Labour, saying “it’s time for boldness and long-term vision”.
“National’s approach to infrastructure is simple: Make decisions, get projects funded and commissioned, and then get them delivered, at least a couple of years before they are expected to be needed. That is the approach that transformed the economies of Asia from the 1960s.
“Today’s plan is one that New Zealanders – including Aucklanders – have been waiting for, for generations.”
The Transport Funding summery is here and says:
National intends to make a major change to the way we fund transport investments in New Zealand.
This simple yet profound shift in thinking fundamentally changes the game by allowing us to significantly invest more on an annual basis, develop a pipeline of projects, and invest in important projects before they become urgent.
We call this the intergenerational approach.
National will let Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) borrow significantly more on its own balance sheet, using the $4 billion of annual revenue it receives from fuel tax and road user charges to service the debt.
The current Government has recently made a similar move with Kāinga Ora.
Transport infrastructure has intergenerational benefits, it is fair to take an intergenerational approach to paying for it.
While this was Judith’s first big policy announcement, and she was happy to share the attention: