Mana Result Shows Motorway Support


Followers of Wellington’s Mana by-election expected it would provide a credible test in certain areas of the electorate for the popularity of the planned MacKays to Peka Peka Expressway.
Especially as Labour’s transport spokesman Darren Hughes has been getting up in parliament on a daily basis grilling the transport minister about whether National had delayed releasing the route plans in order to stop it being an issue in Mana.
We know that the last by-election in Mt Albert saw Labour get some gains from the Waterview project being one of the contentious issues again in a section of the election, helped by Mational’s Melissa Lee badly handling the issue on the campaign trail.
Both Mt Albert and Mana are strong traditional Labour electorates. Mt Albert got an extra bounce when transport was made the main issue.

In Mana, not only has National’s highly regarded candidate reduced Labour’s election night majority to an embarrassing trickle of 1080 votes, but it seems the area affected by the motorway plans turned even more solidly to National.
Kiwiblogger David Farrar, who runs his own political polling company that supplies National, can be trusted to give the most accurate interpretation of the voting.
His analysis says of the area where there have been protests about the motorway says:

The Kapiti area voted Labour last time, and flipped to National this time. And what is more extraordinary about this is it happened despite noisy local opposition to a new expressway.

In 2008 Laban got 46% and Parata 41%. That was good enough, but there was a massive swing here as in 2010 Faafoi got 37% and Parata 47%, so the margin went from +5% to Labour to +10% for Labour – a 15% net movement. The total vote was 69% of 2008, and McCarten got 3% here.

So can conclude that those protesting the motorway are only a small section of people whose properties were directly affected?

And can we conclude that next year, despite howls from anyone whose property is affected and by Auckland city-bound public transport advocates who would hardly use the route, that the solid National seat that includes Warkworth will get an even bigger tick from those pleased the government is putting money into the rural-based region and improving their access to the north?

In the end this is all about politics and winning elections.

If there are election votes in motorways, they will happen.

What we need to make sure is that the popularity of rail projects on a local body election scale also becomes a prominent issue in the next general election campaign.

A must read is today’s Sunday Star Times column by economics commentator Rod Oram called “Going down the wrong road.”

The (Puhoi) motorway will significantly distort development patterns, thereby blighting the region. It will help push urban development out to 85km north of Auckland’s CBD over coming decades.

This will exacerbate Auckland’s weakness as a sprawling city, with dire economic consequences. Worldwide evidence shows lower density means higher infrastructure costs, favouring private over public transport and a weaker network effect. People living and working closely together generate greater wealth than those spread out.

In fact, the government knew last year the motorway was uneconomic, according to the cost/benefit analysis done for it. Likewise, the Waikato Expressway and Wellington to Levin motorway were uneconomic under conventional analysis.

That was very embarrassing for the government……..

The only solution is for the government to come clean, park its road prejudice and sit down with our three biggest cities to discuss how we can do urban development much better. If it doesn’t, our shambling cities will be to the Key government what Think Big was to Muldoon’s.”

Well argued, Rod.




  1. Frank says:

    Nice to see someone in the main-stream media talking some sense at last. Its a terrible waste of money to build some of these uneconomic highways

  2. max says:

    Yes, there are votes IN motorways. For some people who will profit.

    But National spinning an election they LOST as a mandate for a motorway, much less as a mandate for motorways all over the country, is ridiculous.

    And they are welcome to gain the Warkworth seat if they lose lots of other seats in Auckland in the balance. Would be kinda poetic justice if it occurs. Think of how hilarious it would be to have Steven Joyce be the local opposition MP to a government that kills off his gigantic money-wasting project with its negative benefit-cost-ratio.

    No matter whether that occurs 2012 or 2015 (I am tipping 2015, because National is still too popular right now - they would have to badly mishandle things in more than just the transport area over the coming year to lose).

  3. James B says:

    Given the voter turnout I suspect apathy was the winner on the day.

  4. Luke says:

    the kapiti expressway is an entirely different kettle of fish to the Puhoi Road.
    Far more people are directly affected by the Kapiti motorway than the Puhoi road.
    The Kapiti road will cut through the middle of several towns, most of which are in Otaki electorate.
    Unlike the puhoi road the cost is not so much an issue but the effect of cutting communities in half.

  5. Joshua says:

    Luke - Yet the communities are in support, which shows there is still demand for Motorways.

    Max - The main problem with the Puhoi road is many Aucklander’s actually use that route on a monthly or weekly basis, so the amount of votes lost in the Auckland area may not be enormous. Although most Aucklanders see the CBD loop as a priority, they are not against the Puhoi highway either.

  6. max says:

    Joshua, to clarify - I do not think that National is likely to lose many votes over Puhoi. Sadly, for most people, the wastefulness of this scheme is not apparent.

    HOWEVER, National can very much lose lots of votes in contested Auckland electorates if they do not fund the CBD tunnel. To avoid this potentially election-losing result (maybe not next election, but certainly after that one), they have to either fund ONLY the CBD tunnel or fund the CBD tunnel AND Puhoi.

  7. antz says:

    while i do understand why the goverment funds the Peka Peka expressway, but what i don’t understand is why can’t they just simply put a safer two lane road in with wider shoulders, road barriers, lighting, Bypasses and a slower speed limit like on the Centennial road?

    Oh well, im much more happier with the Wellington Expressway than the Puhoi, even though it is costly it isn’t entirely going to waste like the Puhoi one.

  8. Pickle says:

    Election in 2011 not 2012 Max


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