CBD Loop: More “Get Lost” Talk
The Government has yet to formally respond to the business case for the CBD link, released last week, yet continues to tell Aucklanders to forget it.
Minister of Transport Steven Joyce spent last week dampening hopes for the link when approached by various media but in the Sunday Star Times he spells out in his own op-ed piece why he won’t approve it unless it becomes someone else’s financial problem:
“Local body wish lists for $2.3b CBD rail tunnels on top of all this need to be fully tested; and someone else besides taxpayers (and international moneylenders) will have to put their hands in their pockets if they want to bump those sort of projects up the queue. We also should be wary about putting too much faith in a mode of transport that currently carries less than 2% of Auckland’s commuters to and from work each day, even after some quite spectacular growth.”
It’s not even worth trying to wave around rail transport patronage growth figures, cherry pick the graphs from the business case or start to argue with someone who has clearly made up his mind and won’t listen to his views being challenged.
Two media outlets in the last week have furthered speculation that the next Key Cabinet reshuffle will see Joyce promoted to finance minister.
With Joyce holding on to all the money bags, this would ensure there will be no more money for pet rail projects, although there will always be money for the Puhoi road. A road economic writer Rod Oram had revealed a week previously had a cost benefit ratio of only 0.4% according to the government’s own documents. It was that Oram article headed “Going down the wrong road” that promoted Joyce to respond.
The government’s Auckland local government shakeup was suppose to enable Auckland authorities to work comfortably with the government to grow Auckland as a world-class economic hub.
Instead it is shaping up to become very ugly – especially when you read the rest of Joyce’s article about how Auckland should grow – which is again in contrast to how some Auckland local body leaders will view the way the city’s spatial plan should be developed.
Meanwhile the morning newspaper editorial rejects the “Build it and they will come” argument – even though that’s exactly what has happened with Auckland’s rail growth (including re-establishing the Onehunga line) and notes:
Transport Minister Steven Joyce seems to know what to look for: figures based on guesswork for wider economic benefits (webs). This report, said Mr Joyce, has “webs on steroids”….
Before Mr Brown, Mrs Fletcher and the rest try to convince Mr Joyce of the merits of this proposal, they should put it to Auckland – with an honest price on it.
Then, if ratepayers are as excited as they are by the case for an inner city rail circuit, they could have a proposition the Government would find hard to refuse. As it is, it sounds like business as usual – Auckland’s voice whining like a demanding child expecting a treat from the taxpayers.
Interesting times, one year out from a general election.