The East-West Link has been in the news a bit recently, such as on TV3’s The Nation on Saturday where Simon Bridges received a grilling about the business case. Cam has also written recently about the economics of the project and the discussion that’s occurring about it at the Board of Inquiry.
Yesterday, Green MP Julie Anne Genter took the opportunity to ask some questions about it in Parliament. It’s probably good sign that you’re having an impact when a Minister falls back on insults to respond to questions and that ended up happening numerous times during Julie Anne’s questions. However she did get some good jabs in about it and his recent issues with trying to prevent the OIA on the Third Main. You can see a transcript from the parliament debate the here)
One of the questions raised by Julie Anne was about evidence given by the NZTAs economist.
Is it not strange that now the costs outweigh the benefits of the project, the Transport Agency’s own economist gave evidence last week that said: “I have not prepared a quantitative assessment of the economic costs of the Project. Neither have I quantified the benefits.”?
That’s a quote from the NZTAs economics rebuttal evidence that came out this week and contains a number of other bizarre statements. Some others include:
7.8 Based on all the information available, I am confident that the economic benefits of the Project will outweigh the economic costs (especially if the construction costs are not included).
Well if we’re allowed to start excluding the construction costs then I’ve got a few more rail tunnels we could build.
In response to Mercury Energy’s economist concerns about the impact on their Southdown site
8.5 I acknowledge that I have not undertaken a quantitative economic assessment but for the reasons outlined an economic analysis of a transport project is unlikely to ever be complete.
8.9 If Mr Murray is struggling to identify the cost it can hardly be expected that the Transport Agency could have done so. In my view it would not be practical for the Transport Agency to quantify this cost within its economic analysis
On even questioning the BCR. Surely the link between the BCR and the RMA is fairly straightforward. If the BCR meant an alternative option provided a better outcome, and one that didn’t impact the environment as much, then how can it not be relevant.
8.15 I reiterate that the BCR is not a relevant matter under the RMA and the BCR is only one of the tools used by the Transport Agency when making an investment decision and considering alternatives.
This of course comes hot on the heels of Finance Minister Steven Joyce complaining about the quality of business cases and pointing fingers at the City Rail Link.
Finance Minister Steven Joyce is looking for greater discipline in assessing the benefits of large infrastructure projects in the future.
Some projects in Auckland, such as the City Rail Link, did not stack up on a traditional cost-benefit basis, he said, although the Government has committed to funding for it.
“I think there is unfinished business now for all of us to think about what are the true wider benefits of some of these projects and trying to get a bit more discipline to them in the years ahead,” he told the finance and expenditure committee at Parliament in response to questions from Greens co-leader James Shaw.
“From my perspective, I think it is important that we go through the benefit-cost ratio discussion.
What’s that saying about glass houses and throwing stones again?