But the $billion bridge

Every government gets priorities wrong and makes expensive mistakes.

The proposal to build a walking and cycling bridge across Auckland Harbour is one of the stupidest examples of wasting money on a luxury when there are so many necessities going unfunded.

That is was announced when the government is living on borrowed money; had announced it wasn’t funding other previously promised road projects, and flooding had cut the South Island in two at the Ashburton bridge made it even more difficult to accept.

The cost was given as about $700,000 but delays, difficulties and price increases would easily turn that into $1 billion – and that is a billion that is sorely needed elsewhere.

The political problem for the promotors of such a stupidity is that it will be thrown up every time any other plea for funding is turned down.

National’s Finance spokesman Michael Woodhouse points out higher priorities:

The projects Labour is choosing to spend hard earned taxpayer money on speaks volumes around its priorities, National’s Finance spokesperson Michael Woodhouse says.

“Kiwis across the country dealing with potholes and unsafe roads, and Aucklanders sitting in deadlocked traffic, would’ve questioned the reasoning behind investing $785 million on a cycle bridge that will only benefit a small number of people.

“Those same Aucklanders stuck on the harbour bridge will be wondering why the Government is so obsessed with light rail that it would rather spend upwards of $15 billion on it than a much needed second harbour crossing.

“New Zealanders would’ve struggled to understand how the Mongrel Mob, an organised criminal group known for peddling drugs and violence throughout communities, was more deserving of $2.75 million than the ‘I Am Hope’ support group which provides free counselling for youth struggling with mental health issues.

“Our underappreciated nurses are sick of being side-lined while the Government funnels half a billion dollars into a health restructure and bureaucracy. They’ve had enough and they’re striking to show it.

“We’ve got 4000 children being raised in motels exposed to intimidation, violence, drug deals and gang involvement. The Government should be making it easier to build houses and making sure these families have access to safe and secure homes. Instead it’s bought one motel for $8 million.

“The consequences of this poor quality spending by Labour is higher taxes and more debt.

“New Zealanders deserve a Government that prioritises their health, safety and wellbeing.

“Labour has made its priorities very clear, and they involve funding the Mob over mental health support for young Kiwis.”

What does it say about Labour’s priorities when:

Nurses are striking because their case for better pay and conditions has been turned down but the government is going to spend $1 billion on a bridge.

Hospitals are in crisis mode with 30,000 people overdue for treatment but the government is going to spend $1 billion on a bridge.

More than 4,000 children are living in motels but the government is going to spend $1 billion on a bridge.

Except now, maybe because Sunday’s poll showing the government has dropped in popularity, maybe because more than 80% of people polled opppose it,  or maybe just because common sense has asserted itself, it’s probable the government has accept that it’s a bridge too far:

Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson wants the Government to bring forward work on a second Waitematā crossing, likely to be a tunnel.

It is understood that the Government is also considering scrapping its $785 million walking and cycling bridge over the harbour.

On Tuesday, Robertson would not confirm that the walking and cycling bridge would definitely be going ahead, only that the bridge was the current proposal.

When asked whether he would renege on building the bridge, Robertson said “we continually look at the network and the programme to make sure that it works well”. . . 

Given there is no doubt that the proposed bridge is deeply unpopular, and so much else in Auckland’s transport system is not working well, this can be taken to mean that the current proposal will be shelved.

The Taxpayers’ Union applauds the probable u-turn:

. . .“This proposal has perhaps been the Government’s worst political misfire. Even Labour supporters don’t want a gold-plated bridge for the sake of the Takapuna lycra mob – especially when other parts of our transport system, used by a wider range of New Zealanders, have gone neglected.”

Given there is no doubt that the proposed bridge is deeply unpopular, and so much else in Auckland’s transport system is not working well, this can be taken to mean that the current proposal will be shelved. . . 

Dare we hope this is the start of the government focusing on high priorities and not other boondoggles like the billion dollar bridge?

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