- Labour reiterates support for Auckland Light Rail to Airport.
- National says they’d scrap the airport rail project along with most of Let’s Get Wellington Moving.
- Meanwhile, ACT’s David Seymour says no to Chinese government money. He’s leery about being bullied.
Hipkins reaffirms support for Auckland Light Rail, but does this mean actual progress?
Prime Minister Chris Hipkins has reaffirmed his party’s commitment to building the long delayed Auckland Light Rail project. Labour has not been able to get the project off the ground since first promised in 2017. If greenlit, costs are estimated in the tens of billions and it will require at least a decade to construct.
With routing and the type of rail still up in the air, Hipkins has said a business case is being made to determine how to move the project forward.
Auckland’s mayor Wayne Brown has previously referred to the project as a “dead duck”.
National’s Chris Bishop goes after Hipkins over transport woes
National’s MP Chris Bishop says “Chris Hipkins told RNZ he’s waiting to see what the business case ‘comes up with’ for options around his $30 billion light rail project in Auckland. Less than two years ago, then-Transport Minister Michael Wood said the business case drew ‘a clear conclusion’ about the project and offered up a short list of options.”
Calling Labour’s transport plans “chaos”, Bishop asks “Is the business case done or not? What has Labour been doing for six years in transport?”
He says National will dump the project if given the chance.
National has also vowed to scrap most of the Let’s Get Wellington Moving project (LGWM), which also includes light rail. However, there’s questions as to whether or not Labour may also be looking to back away from LGWM.
LGWM is a nearly $7.5b joint initiative between Wellington City Council, Greater Wellington Regional Council, and Waka Kotahi. It includes investments over 20 years in mass rapid transit, walking and cycling, public transport and state highway improvements.
National says its plan for the city, including a tunnel project and improved roading to the airport, would only cost $4b.
David Seymour says no to accepting money from China’s Belt and Road initiative
National’s total transport plan is estimated at $24b over ten years and is calling, in part, for the construction of “13 new Roads of National Significance”.
The plan is also calling for infrastructure upgrades, more public transport and rebuilds of weather damaged road networks.
The party dismissed Labour’s criticism that the plan’s costing falls short.
National’s leader, Chris Luxon, has said he’s open to receiving money from China amongst other overseas funding sources in order to get projects like tolled roads underway.
Meanwhile, ACT leader David Seymour, who also supports building more tolled roads, has ruled out dealing with the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) Belt and Road initiative.
“If National’s Transport policy leaves the door open for the Chinese Government to build New Zealand roads, ACT’s well thought out transport policy shuts it,” says Seymour.
Seymour says any investment from outside OECD countries will be put under a much harsher spotlight underneath an ACT/National government and that needed investment can’t come at the cost of “being bullied or cowed by a bigger nation looking to gain leverage”.
“We can’t just close our eyes and hope the CCP don’t take the opportunity to gain a foothold in New Zealand” says Seymour.