Huge news last night with Winston Peters announcing that he’d chosen to a coalition with Labour to form a new government. So far, all the talk from the various parities is that this new government will represent a significant change for New Zealand. While there haven’t any details mentioned about just what’s been agreed, here are some quick thoughts on what it likely means for transport and that other huge urban issue of housing.

Transport

I think can summarise it as THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING.

We know from the election policies that transport was one area with a lot of common ground with each of the parties of this new government and a gulf between them and National. As such, we can probably expect significant change in this area compared to what we’ve seen in the last nine years.

Public Transport

All three parties expressed a desire to significantly improve urban public transport, in both Auckland and elsewhere around the country. Early in the campaign Labour and the Greens adopted our Congestion Free Network and I imagine that NZ First would support most of it. This new government gives us hope we can get some significant and quick progress on many aspects of the CFN and I imagine debates like Light Rail on the Isthmus, that National would only commit to decades in the future, will quickly be resolved. My expectation is that we’ll see contracts for the first stage of Light Rail signed over the next three years. In addition to infrastructure, I suspect we could see more money made available for increased services and things like the SuperGold card.

For Mayor Phil Goff, I imagine this will make his role a lot easier.

When do we start?

Let’s also not forget that 1News Colmar Brunton poll which found New Zealanders overwhelmingly wanted to see more investment in public transport.

In addition to urban transport, the parties have been particularly keen on improving the rail network, particularly for freight. This includes through policies such as retaining and extending electrification on main trunk though the central North Island. Both Labour and the Greens quickly backed our proposal for Regional Rapid Rail and it’s hard to see NZ First opposing that.

Regional Rapid Rail Stage 3

Roads

The three parties also had many similarities in their polices around roads too. As such I think it’s pretty clear we’ll see none of new Roads of National Significance progressed, with the exception of the Manawatu Gorge replacement. I also wouldn’t be surprised if we see the Warkworth to Te Hana project, which has a terrible economic case, canned. In Auckland that also likely means the end to the current, obscene proposal for the East-West Link. We definitely need some transport improvement in the area though so a new government will hopefully allow some sanity to return by starting with some more targeted upgrades of existing roads.

East-West Link gone?

All of this change doesn’t mean we’ll see no investment in new roads though and in her press briefing, Jacinda Ardern highlighted that one of the areas of focus for the discussions was on regional development and the infrastructure needed to support that. We don’t know what that involves but it could include some more specific road upgrades, but perhaps not to a full motorway standard that National proposed.

I would also expect that as part of this new government that we’ll see a renewed focus on road safety with more money put towards improving that. A greater number of smaller projects could well form part of that regional development policy as they’re often able to be completed by smaller, local contractors.

Cycling

All three parties supported more investment in cycling and so at the very least I think we can expect a continuation of the urban cycleway fund and likely funding for Skypath. This will definitely help towards implementing Auckland Transport’s excellent plan for improving cycling over the next decade.

Government Policies

To enable a big change in priorities it’s going to start with a significant change to the Government Policy Statement (GPS) which has strict funding bands and which the now former National government had used to put an increasing share of transport funding towards State Highways (for the RoNS). Given the GPS needs to be in place by the middle of next year I’d expect this will need to be one of the first priorities for the incoming government. We’ll also be watching closely to see issues such as whether Auckland will have a Regional Fuel Tax to help pay for projects.

In addition to the GPS, I think we will see another re-working of the Auckland Transport Alignment Project (ATAP), one that strips out some former governments ideology that was embeded in it, such as the position on Light Rail.

I think it’s going to be an exciting time ahead for transport and there’s the opportunity for Auckland to make some significant headway towards a getting a better, more balanced transport system.

Housing

In her talk to the press, Jacinda Ardern noted that one of the areas of commonality was going to be focused on was housing. Building more houses can’t come soon enough. There will of course be challenges to this, such as finding enough workers, but we have hope that one of the country’s pressing problems can addressed.

I’m sure we’ll have a lot more to say on more specific issues in the coming days and weeks ahead as details of exactly what’s agreed and what the priorities are becomes clearer. In both housing and transport we have hope that significant progress can be made in the coming years. This is extremely exciting. At the same time, we’re well aware that things don’t always turn out as expected and so we’ll continue to advocate for a Greater Auckland.

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206 comments

    1. I think you guys might be over optimistic. NZ first might be keen on regional rail but they hate Auckland. They want heavy rail only. Will be interesting to see how much power they have.

      1. I don’t think “hate Auckland” is fair. More like: “disapproves of any changes which have happened in Auckland since 1989”. Horrified at the idea of it becoming an actual city and yearning for about 15 independent small towns around the isthmus. Quarter-acre subdivisions out to the horizons, no high rises, no dark faces. You know, the Mike Lee/Penny Bright constituency.

        1. I chatted with Penny Bright once and although it is possible that she is as mad as a hatter it is certainly true that we desperately need more mad people like her.
          Her message was a simple demand for transparency but I got the impression she would be extreme left wing judging by her distaste for commercial businesses.
          The little I know of Mike Lee would put him right wing.
          We never discussed dark faces – have you any evidence of racism by either?

      2. I’m no Winston supporter, but I do have a lot of respect for him and consider him to be very clever. I think that you’ll find his words were aimed at those outside of Auckland and that the reality would be more pragmatic.

        Also, I don’t see the port moving in the next 6 years. Upgrading the HR, sure. Getting rail under the NLTF, almost a certainty. Moving the port, nothing more than token gestures so that the northern supporters don’t feel that he’s back tracking.

      3. i can tell u how much power the new heavy rail has more then u think and more power then electric fence and power lines try 5 power stations and 25000 votes if stupid people did try any thing stupid like using steel or mettle or try hold on at the back of the train

    2. yea right just rush it and make mistakes to build them right and some thing on the train dont exist yet and half of it has to be custom made

  1. The Greens statement last night was light on transport policies but some hints in the climate change section.

    “Significant climate action, with a shift towards a net zero carbon emissions economy by 2050. The specific focuses will be on: transport, energy, primary industries.”

    1. Perhaps: no more exporting of raw logs with no processing? Imagine if we had a government with enough guts to stand up to the foreign owners with all the cutting rights to our forests and say: No more exporting raw logs. The world is singing out for timber, and the lowest cost suppliers get their forests raped for little return. Japan is not silly: it has lovely forests, so it imports timber so it doesn’t cut down its own. China – massive importer of our logs, we have little say over what happens to them once they are on a ship. Our forests are sent offshore for low grade applications, fetching low prices and doing little for the country. Harvesting trees at 18 years? Crazy. Time for us to think cleverer.

      1. I’m unconvinced that there’s anything wrong with harvesting @ 18 years, however I strongly agree that we should be doing _some_ processing here. Maximising the value of the commodity.

        I don’t know the global market for dead trees, so I’ve no idea how much processing we could force before the customers go elsewhere, but it’s something that’s worth looking into.

        1. Actually even if more processing is not economic for export, why can’t we use them for more housing? It strikes me as odd that NZ exports logs cheaply yet pays a high price for imported building materials. Some monopolies in this area need a close look.

      2. What is wrong with letting owners decide when to harvest their logs? Logs are supposed to be harvested when the expected growth in dollar value over the next year is lower than the one year interest rate. There is no optimum tree size, just a financial evaluation of where the owner should park their capital over the next year.

      3. Miffy and JK, I am surprised at your thinking. Harvesting logs for pulp gets a return of about $40-60/m3 domestically, and up to $150/m3 for export. Harvesting logs for small round timber production (i.e. poles and scantlings) gets a return of about $185-214/m3 for export, and a little less for domestic. It’s chump change. We market ourselves as a third world country, exporting low cost low value products. Idiotic behaviour.
        http://www.mpi.govt.nz/news-and-resources/open-data-and-forecasting/forestry/wood-product-markets/historic-indicative-new-zealand-radiata-pine-log-prices/

        Cutting trees down when they are young means there will be little heart wood, mostly sap wood, and ensures your return is low. Waiting till trees are larger, means more timber, better quality timber, better returns on investment (i.e. tree is worth way more) but most importantly, if you put the money into processing for quality here in NZ, then the returns are massive.

        I just did a quick calc of the price of LVL (domestic retail market) and it is around $3,300/m3. Even if it is half that much as an export item, the jump in value is clearly stratospheric. If you want a jump in GDP, then value added here in NZ is the way forward.

        1. Value added here is only useful if someone wants to buy our products. Why would someone overseas buy a product manufactured in NZ, when you can buy the raw product, which is cheaper to ship and manufacture it in a country with lower labour costs?

          1. You’d have to wonder why NZers wouldn’t do better by processing timber for our own products, too, instead of importing plastic items for the landfill. Something to do with externalities and using millions-of-year old fossil carbon to ship stuff around? And if we diversified our timber to include long-rotation hardwoods, we’d be able to stop using CCA like every other civilised country has.

        2. If the forest owner can make more money leaving the trees to grow on a bit they will do it without needing anyone to tell them to. If they will make less money leaving the tree to grow than they can make putting their capital elsewhere then they will cut now and invest elsewhere Commercial forestry is a business, nothing else. High opportunity costs means they cut earlier, low opportunity costs means they cut later. Of course all of that ignores the negative externalities of forestry where they cut, leave a huge mess on the land and bugger off to leave all the waste to wash down onto other people’s property in the first big storm.

          1. Yes it does ignore that; if environment is considered the whole picture changes completely, and higher-value more diverse stands with other income streams from the land become possible/necessary. What’s holding NZ back from this is some regulatory change and a whole lot of mindset change. But we could really thrive at it.

        3. Hi Guy – I really didn’t have a clue, so thanks for the info. In light of what you’ve said, I agree that 18 years is sub-optimal.

          I grew up seeing trees about 2/3rd of a meter across being carted around on trucks, or sitting at the port for export, so it never occurred to me that they could be worth more if they were harvested later.

          On a related note, is there any recovery period for the land? I’ve seen some forests replanted immediately and others left alone for years before replanting…

          1. Here are some thoughts about recovery period based on my reading: The recovery period for the land depends on how much soil is eroded between harvest and replanting, and what sort of soil and subsoil is left behind. Erosion rates during this time depend largely on soil type, slope and on weather, but also on whether the forest was originally planted to a good design, with buffer zones on contour to limit overland flow, and to trap soil, access roads in locations to minimise damage during harvest, and staged planting and harvesting to expose as little of the land at one time as possible. Best practice is far from what we do; it involves selective logging of high-value timber in a diverse ecosystem. In Europe, this is practised, and yes it is economically viable.

      4. Right on, Guy. And stopping the rorts like “processing” swamp kauri by carving a tiny patch. Definitely we can be cleverer with timber harvest. There’s a whole lot of new information coming out of forest management research, as well as the ages old knowledge we ignored. And then there’s what we’re doing to our native bush, which is at crisis point.

        1. Perhaps locking up Judith Collins’ husband and stopping his company pillaging the country illegally would be a good call. I’d be sending a squad car to pick him up right away.

      5. Forestry is helping keep some of our tree stock replenished. Our raw logs are from replanted areas, and keeps these areas for recreational use while trees mature. Without forestry we would be turning these areas into farmland or housing areas.

    2. The first thing I’ve heard from the Greens is about a referendum on cannabis use.
      What a top notch idea that is. Turn us into a nation of druggies. There’s a good idea.

        1. Yep, approving medicinal use in my opinion is a no-brainer. People think that allowing it will result in people smoking doobies everywhere. Most of the medicinal products are nasal sprays – its hardly the kind of cool thing that school kids are going to be sharing around…

        1. Yes. Once you actually read about the issues, it becomes clear that our current policy just endangers some and criminalises others.

          1. Yes, I know of several medicinal users of cannabis that would have fewer benefits and greater side effects from other drugs. Cannabis oil was an excellent adjunct to conventional care for my mother when she had terminal cancer. I’m sure it improved her quality of life and I believe it extended her life too. It’s a shame people have to get their medicines illegally.

            Let’s also not confound cannabis use with something like methamphetamine. Surely it’s best to make cannabis legal and reliable and keep it as separate conceptually and physically as possible from P, which is so different in terms of the magnitude of adverse effects on individuals and society?

            I believe alcohol still causes the greatest harm though?

      1. yeah the netherlands is such a terrible nation. Our GDP per capita is 37,294, those druggies over in Europe can only manage 51,049, poor them.

  2. I could see NZ First attempting to protect Warkworth to Wellsford in their coalition agreement – Winston Peter was very in favour of it during his Northland by-election campaign, and I don’t suspect much has changed. NZ First are also likely to push for investment in other regional rail routes.

    Another outcome that seems highly-likely is the broadening of the Land Transport Fund’s remit so that it can invest in non-road projects.

    1. I reckon he would be happy with a significant upgrade to the Northland rail line with a branch line to Marsden point.

      I would like to see the Navy moved to Northport as a preliminary move. Would be great for the navy and for Whangerei.

        1. I’m not sure if the issue is the board or the CEO. I do know that the company made some questionable decisions after Peter took over from Jim Quinn as CEO. Things like selling the silverware and thinking short term (lower capex, but with much higher opex).

          Peter’s contract probably expires in March (he started on 1st March 2014), unless it was renewed this year for another 3.

    1. There was talk of removing the RUB and instead focusing on building houses along transport corridors, while also protecting valuable agricultural land. This of course is very similar to the RUB…

    2. Whilst any boundary contributes to the cost of housing, so does the lack of boundary – Though sometimes the financial impact is hidden (travel costs, increasing rates to cover infra + services + increased RV) other times the impact is non-financial (long commutes = relationship and mental strain for starters.)

      1. And we already have long commutes in congestion and financial strain due to the boundary. This would be fine if there was a credible plan to catch up with the decades of infra deficit, but I won’t be happy until sods are turned on the CFN. It’s not what we need in the future, it’s badly needed now.

  3. The election outcome is a huge win for transport in general! Hopefully any investment in roading during the next term of government is for safety (and bringing down our spiraling road toll) instead of trying to move freight somewhere 15 minutes sooner.
    And in particular, to see the East-West Link scaled right back and the money invested into better, more economical, transport initiatives, such as busways and light rail.

  4. Hopefully they will can Penlink and sell back the land and invest the money into public transport infrastructure to benefit Rodney as a whole. That would be the smart thing to do, but I guess we’ll soon see if this Government is has short-sighted as Mark Mitchell.

      1. PENLINK has value as a 2 lane road. In conjunction with this, there is an opportunity to create bus priority along Whangaparaoa Road, lower the speed limit and make Whangaparaoa Road a nicer place. Same applies to Hibiscus Coast Highway.

          1. If you check my history, you’ll discover that I’m not for Penlink at all. What I’m doing, with the understanding that the new government has mentioned Penlink, is trying to maximize potential gains for transit.

      1. Too bad for those of us who rely on imports to get to work and maintain some standard of living i.e. most of the population. Farmers send our best product overseas and charge an arm and a leg for the scraps on the domestic market. But I’m sure the families in Mangere filling up their people movers totally have an extra $10 a week for gas money. As long as the export sector is humming everyone will be stoked, right?

        1. Mmmm, something went wrong a long time ago, didn’t it? A country so well endowed with resources full of people so reliant on imports… I guess economics explains it.

        2. Imports roughly equal exports at any one time. The impact of the dollar on the economy is overrated, it has been as high a $1.30 and as low as 39 cents to the US dollar, without having any significant effect on the economy of the time.

          We can only buy imports if we are selling exports, it’s economics 101, you are seriously undervaluing the importance of exports to everyone in NZ, even if they don’t export directly themselves.

          1. Agree about the dollar. But while the value of imports should equal the value of exports, the importance of them is quite different.

            A healthy economy for a country with natural resources like ours should be guided by holistic decisions. We should be more cognizant of the distinction between needs and wants. Design for resilience would have us providing our own needs, exporting products only if in doing so our ecological base is not compromised, and importing only wants. Economics 101 fails at this. That’s why I didn’t study economics when I left school. I read a textbook for an Economics 101 paper (literally) and found the oversimplification banal.

          2. Agree, if we were not to require imported goods then we don’t need to export anything, which would certainly take some strain off the environment for example.

            However, this would require a significant change in lifestyle, which I’m not sure people would be that keen on. While I agree we import a lot of crap that we don’t need, there are many long life items that we import that can’t be manufactured with resources we have or can be manufactured overseas much more efficiently.

            Of course we shouldn’t be polluting our rivers and lakes just to pay for these imports.

          3. There are a few things that we need to import for a sustainable economy. Otherwise we’d be burning coal for power.

            Also if we can produces things more sustainable and cheaper that others, then we should sell those things to other people.

      2. Reserve Bank has said for some years the NZ dollar is too high, hurting exporters. New government announced and dollar falls. One required task done already. You’re welcome.

        1. Yea. That’s right. No one in NZ imports anything important. Just fuel, food, consumer goods items,etc. Again, tell me how the dollar going down helps people on the poverty line? I’ll give you a hint: it doesn’t.

          The RBNZ has been pissing into the wind with the dollar, ignoring that our economy has been stronger than our trading partners hence our dollar trading higher. And a cynic would suggest it presented a convenient excuse to keep interest rates low because they were worried about the consequences of an interest rate rise when it came to massive mortgages.

          But sure, claim credit for bringing the dollar down. Be sure to explain to the people struggling to fill their cars on the same amount of NZD each week why they should be so thankful.

          1. If you feel that strongly about it you really should have a campaign against our consecutive government’s export-led growth policy.
            Having trade deficits doesn’t help the interest rates we pay either.

          2. Interesting. National has been predicating their entire economic plan on export-led economy and free trade for the last 9 years.

            but according to you, exports don’t matter.

    1. Our currency is relatively volatile at the best of times. Market confidence always falls when governments change, then bounces back when policies and direction becomes clear.

      1. 4John K, I wonder what affect the speculative trading has had on the $? I think that someone with your sort of name would be able to advise. Particularly when trading on currencies in a similar situation in 87.
        When the currency turnover is so many times our GDP I think there is a good case for looking at the speculative trading and seeing if there is way to clip that ticket .

    2. The basic idea is that any success is temporary because if exports start doing better there is increased demand for the dollar so it goes back to where it was before. This was always missing back in 2012 when THE DOLLAR IS TOO HIGH was the catch phrase. To be honest, I would LOVE a return to that discourse. Much better than blaming immigrants.

    3. Actually No. The trams are typically only 1/4 or less of the cost of an LRT scheme. Most of the cost is moving services and civil works. Meanwhile we would stop building freeways that encourage people to buy more imported cars.

  5. If indeed the Greens are given two portfolios, I have my fingers crossed that one of them is Environment, and that the other is Transport, with Julie Anne Genter in the saddle. That would be the first time ever in NZ that we would have a Minister for Transport who actually had studied transport and actually knew what she was doing. The time for people who were woodwork teachers, real estate salesmen, radio station owners and dairy farmers is, hopefully, over.

    1. My preference would be Julie Anne Genter as Minister of Transport and Michael Wood associate minister of transport. Outcome might be the same two roles, but reversed.

    2. Also – no more Nick Smith – that in itself is a reason to be very happy. He had some good points and some good outcomes, but somehow, everything he touched appeared to turn into a disaster. Not necessarily the worst Minister of Construction ever (we’ve had a few bad ones!) but certainly the clumsiest / most unlucky. Time to move on.

      Big question, hopefully about to be answered soon, is what NZ First MPs are going to be in cabinet? Some are competent: some are not. They have a very small pool of competence to choose from, and fully half their elected MPs get to be cabinet ministers. Ron Mark as Minister of Defence perhaps? Shane Jones as Minister of Ag and Fisheries seems an obvious choice? Labour, at least, has a bigger pool to choose from, but less of their fish are going to get in the net.

      One thing that Nats have not had for the last while, is a Minister of Housing. Stupid decision on their behalf. Expect big changes there!

      1. I suspect there is good reason the agreement allows for four cabinet ministers, as it appears they only have four competent people amongst their ranks, assuming Tracey Martin is indeed competent.

      2. Alistair – agreed, but Dennis O’Rourke also put in huge amount of hours and time and knowledge into the NZF election campaign. Not an exciting speaker, but has a decent brain.

    3. The Greens are getting 3 ministers outside cabinet and one parliamentary under-secretary. James Shaw in his Radio NZ interview this morning made it pretty clear that the ministerial portfolios would be in the 3 big areas they campaigned on: climate change, restoring NZ’s environment and ending poverty. So it looks like Julie-Anne may not get transport. Maybe the parliamentary under-secretary role? But transport may not be seen as a big enough portfolio to warrant a cabinet minister and a parliamentary under-secretary…

      1. Transport is a large component of climate change (it was one of the sub-areas they identified in their email to members), so I don’t think that comment rules out JAG yet. The likely contenders on the Labour side are Michael Wood and Phil Twyford. Twyford has more experience with the portfolio, but I suspect he’ll also get a large role in Housing.

        1. Perhaps, although climate change is in itself usually a ministerial portfolio – even the Nats accorded it that much importance!

        2. We had both Twyford and Genter down in Wellington at a PrefabNZ Housing Debate – and Phil was all over the Housing issue. It’s his biggest passion. He’ll definitely want the Housing Portfolio. I’d argue that Housing is a different issue from Building and Construction: Building is already within the super-ministry of MBIE, which is already bursting at the seams and couldn’t / shouldn’t / wouldn’t want to get any bigger. Julie-Anne is good on housing, but I suspect her passion is tied up with transport.

          It’s fantastic that all three parties now coming into power acknowledged the Regional Rail plan developed by Greater Auckland (and others? Who was the team?) and will be pushing for greater use of Public Transport in general in NZ. I’m even (long shot, but fingers crossed) confident that Wellington will at last get some better decisions over the whole bus/LR issue to the inner city. It’s not just all about Auckland !

      2. As they are outside cabinet they are likely to be low spending portfolios. Climate change must be a dead cert and maybe Local Government or internal affairs.

      3. Julie Ann Genter will get Associate Transport Minister. That position has been sent to the Greens. Hopefully Transport is not given to NZ First but stays with Labour. It is a big one and needs to be smooth running; not have complicated arguments that stop any progress – eg: heavy rail v light rail. There is only 3 years; let’s get on with it.

    4. Are you suggesting that ministers should have practical work experience in the portfolios they oversee, because just studying something is not the same as having to put in practice processes that people have to action for positive outcome.

          1. Prime Ministers have to have the ability to lead, to inspire, and to keep the sheeple of the country happy. Bill English was sadly lacking in at least one of those categories. Jacinta seems to have that in spades.

          2. Yes, interesting though. I know people who have huge respect for Andrew Little because of his work in the union movement. Jacinda’s experience seems to be limited to professional politics. Yet she has a successful style as leader (yay), and Little did not appear to. So do we need a mixture of people experienced in their fields and people skilled up in communication and political process? How do we get the good communicators / politically nuanced leadership type the experience they need in politics if they are excluded from positions because they don’t have experience in the “real world”.

            I don’t have any answers – I’m just pondering on it.

  6. Call me cynical but let’s see the change before we get excited. Opposition parties can promise anything but government is different as real policies need to be implemented – not as easy as it sounds. So let’s continue the fight to make Auckland Greater.

      1. Possibly, but what I would rather see greater devolution of power to Auckland. I think we can spend the money better than the Wellington based NZTA. But for any politician to give up power isn’t likely.

        1. What has become obvious to me in my (limited) dealings with NZTA in Wellington, is that they have very few people actually within their organisation who actually know what they are doing. Everything is outsourced. Opus are big players. So are Leightons and Fulton Hogan, obviously. But I don’t know that saying decisions are made in Wellington is correct. Decisions are made, effectively, by out-sourced consultants.

          1. I don’t doubt you then let me re-phrase: Auckland is better at making decisions than out-sourced consultants. One of the issues with NZTA and its consultants is that responsibility is too remote. I think it would be better if decision making was more local and that we in Auckland could hold to account politicians here.

          2. Adrian, your out-sourced consultants are in fact mostly Auckland-based consultants, so, physically they are already sitting in your city. But do you want more than that, is that what you’re saying? You want them employed by AT and AC ? So, holding to account local Government politicians? Certainly things will be different now that the Minster for Everything is out of the picture.

          3. Guy M – yes, maybe I shouldn’t use short-hand. What I want is the decisions that affect Auckland are made b local government which is then accountable to the voters of Auckland.

  7. I definitely preferred the Labour/Greens transport policies but worry about how far up their list of priorities it will actually sit.

    Sure we all know there was no 11.5 Billion hole but it’s also clear there was very little money for anything other than education and health. So more a case of reprioritizing than the sweeping changes promised.

    Same is true I think for housing. Anyway all the indicators suggest the housing market has already tropped out and all that is needed for a correction is the supply side to catch up.

    Ironically that will be made harder by changes in immigration.

    Even more ironically immigration is also already falling and it looks like its going to settle back at the historic average without any govt intervention at all.

    Going to be an interesting next few months. Govt faces probably the strongest opposition in 50 years. I wonder how much they will actually achieve.

    1. Will be interesting to see how strong the opposition will be. I cant see Bill English, Steven Joyce and Gerry Brownlee being around for long so it is going to be a different National Party in a years time.

      1. jezza – all depends on how govt performs. If they are struggling and Nats sense victory in 2020 then why wouldn’t they stay. Conversely if govt are largely delivering then the Nats unity will splinter – leadership will come under scrutiny – self interest will prevail and you can beat yr house on Adern continuing as PM post 2020.

        National’s biggest immediate problem is English deciding he’s had enough (& who could blame him) because then they start the infighting immediately which gives the govt are far easier ride.

        1. English will be gone in a few months. There is no way after all he has achieved – Prime Minister, Finance Minister, other portfolios in the 1990’s, that he will want to hang around in opposition. There is good reason he went onto the list in 2014.

      2. What will be interesting is if the right wing led by Judith Collins can stage a coup. I actually think that would be a good outcome for Labour/Greens/NZF as I can’t imagine NZ embracing a party that was too far towards the extremes of neoliberalism.

        We saw in the ’00s that NZ could not stomach the extreme neoliberal ideas of people like Dn Brash. John Key and Bill English brought them back to the centre where they found a rich vein of support.

    2. Yes Kevin, there was never a $10B hole; but in National’s promises was well over 10 billion dollars for roading projects. A huge chunk of this will be re-directed by the new government, because while they are well aware that people want roads those people are not particularly concerned if they don’t get them, at least not to the extent that it will shift their vote.
      The transport policies of all three coalition parties will ensure that there is significant investment in public transport.

    3. They would only have to scale back Penlink and delay/shrink EW link and presto there is a billion+ dollars to progress public transport. We forget just how much NZTA is ploughing into freeways.

    1. How would Airport heavy rail work in with Dominion Road light rail? Would you still build light rail to Onehunga or would it be best to just terminate it at Mount Roskill?

    2. I can’t agree and I’ll show you why…

      Auckland airport had 14,595 total aircraft movements in July 2017 (>480 per day) and moved an average of 14k tonnes per month. That’s a lot of freight (in/out total) of 466T per day, but how much is it compared to a truck?

      The max gross weight of a truck is now 53T, so lets say cargo weight of 48T… We now have ten trucks worth of cargo to cover freight both to/from AIA, if we use the trucks efficiently (rather than the current system).

      The cost and difficulty of HR vs the amount of cargo still weighs in favour of LR.

      Sources:
      Freight through AIAL – http://www.transport.govt.nz/ourwork/tmif/freighttransportindustry/ft010/
      Aircraft movements – https://corporate.aucklandairport.co.nz/news/publications/monthly-traffic-updates

      1. A lot of the air freight is consolidated loads as well. So it’s broken down at the airport and then either couriered to the end consumer (Asos, etc) or palletised and trucked to whichever business. A lot of that volume may also be transhipped by air further into NZ.

        I’d say that a standard curtain-side truck with 12 pallets would carry max 12T.

        Whatever the case the order of magnitude probably not sufficient for HT to be cost effective.

        Especially if the Wiri Port could be used as a rail head to consolidate shipments via rail out of Auckland.

    3. No it is a part of our cultural heritage to always build a shit thing to try and avoid building a good thing. So it will be light rail crawling up Dominion with a tack on line light rail line to the airport.

    4. All reports still show LRT from city to airport via Dominion Road and Mangere is still the best option for connecting the most people and for the best value for money.

    5. Don’t mention HR on here. One of our resident commenters on here can’t differentiate between an express service and an ‘all stops’ service and likes to shoot down anybody who dares to disagree with his preference for LRT.

      1. Vance, you’re sooooo touchy. Get in touch with your inner feelings man, and stop holding back.

        There’s a time and a place for HR and for LR, but what we need most of all is PT. Anything is better than nothing. Can we at least agree on that?

        1. No worries. I actually like taking the train into the city.
          I also support the third main and electrification to Pukekohe.
          Should have been done when the electrification project was underway.
          Happy?

      2. It’s a bit difficult to differentiate between an express service and an ‘all stops’ service when the person describing it hasn’t stated what either option what look like, Vance.

        And hey, if your argument is factually incorrect, I’ll keep shooting it down.

      3. I thinks it is more that AT and KR don’t have a workable relationship. And while the excuse that LR is cheaper, that is the reason that will be used to back it. Not that HR is actually the better option. – capacity, long distance services….

          1. Time for slug-hunting, and for making compost from all the rank weeds, dead wood and misplaced growth. 🙂

    1. Ha! very droll, but what will all those asphalt road makers do now? Can they be retrained to make the 3rd and 4th mains and sort out the giz-napier line rebuild? or the Cambridge branch/Rotorua branch?

  8. I think we may see some of that regional rail – between Hamilton and Auckland, including a heavy rail link to Auckland airport.

    We may also now see electrification at this stage between papakura to te rapa. We also may see a rail upgrade for rail in northland. As well the line to Gisborne.

    I’m not so sure about the light rail. Good idea, but I think there are safety issues in over looked. Like how is a light rail unit going to be protected say from a car full of rampant teens?

    1. I imagine that Winston, rail supporter though he is, will gut the Hamilton – Auckland proposal, or at the very least put some pretty strict bounds in place.

      Looking back at the crystal ball I see the line north in for some quick spending and the third main being approved in 3 months, starting in 14 months (or Easter).

      Gissy – Don’t know. The problem is what happens after Napier. If you’re just looking at logs to Napier, fine. If you want to use the line for other things as well, I’d expect it to become financially challenging.

      RE: LR – I’m struggling to see any real issues that we don’t already face with other modes. Though we will need to change the right of way laws in favour of LR.

      🙂

      1. No need to change the laws. We already have traffic signals and right turn bans 😉

        Why do you think NZ First would gut the Regional Rail programme? He has made a lot of noise about rail and the regions.

        1. RE: The law – True, but the law also states that railcars need to give way to vehicles. This is a trivial change to make and would be another tool to make the running smoother – Especially after a few high profile prosecutions.

          I’m thinking that Winston would be fine with a pilot to Hamilton, but despite his talk I’m still finding it hard to imagine him supporting any increases in funding. Though to be fair, as we’re only talking $30M it’s pretty damn hard to say no!

    2. @ SJC: Even if there are questions about Light rail’s role in Auckland, it definitely has its place and works well all over the world. A car full of rampant teens could potentially be a problem for light rail, but no more so than for a bus, truck, or heavy rail at a level crossing. Not quite sure what you are getting at here.

      1. Pictures I have seen of planning to have light rail vehicles running directly parallel with road vehicles. I can’t see how we won’t see drivers of vehicles not ending up on these tracks, or not running up into the sides of light rail vehicles without some form of solid protection. Level crossings on heavy rail is a continuous process of elimination. It’s not something that mixes there either. If you can’t see what I am getting at, obviously health and safety may not be of concern to you?

        1. Works overseas. People get finned if they delay traffic, etc, where it’s merged for whatever reason.

          Proper PT hopefully means less cars on those roads anyway.

          Driving next to trucks can also be just as fun.

        2. LR vehicles run with a similar level of protection in a number of countries around the world often with even more stringent safety requirements here. I think you are making a mountain out of a molehill.

          1. It isn’t just that. Light rail is now down the road of pathetic if it goes ahead. And repeats poor planners in the Auckland area. The main reason being given, the opportunity should have been seized 15yrs or so ago, before we spent $bn’s on heavy rail electrification, heavy rail upgrades, purchasing emu, and now the crl. In my mind what a disaster if light rail goes ahead. Absolute mockery of rate payers and tax payers if that was a better option all along. Then we wouldn’t even have to bother with the now proposed 3rd main, and how to move tonnage by rail to and from Northland.

          2. SJC, exactly, although the supporters of LR have argued that the more rail modes the better. Despite all the reassurances the idea of LR along Queen and Dom looks looks, IMHO, problematic in sharing the path with cars, trucks, bikes and pedestrians.
            Maybe tunelled or overhead but then cost may be impossible.

          3. What does the 3rd main have to do with light rail to the airport? That is a rather confusing statement you have just made.

          4. That we opted for heavy rail instead of light rail between Pukekohe and Swanson. Which has resulted in the need for a 3rd mainline for freight services that should have priority on the current heavy rail network. Nothing confusing there.

          5. Why would we have gone to the expense of building a new LR network on the existing corridor, when for much less cost improvements could be made to allow for a higher capacity HR network? That just doesn’t make any sense as the cost of a 3rd main is a fraction of what a new LR network would have cost.

          6. SJC, the light rail proposal is a different route to the existing heavy rail. We will not be ripping up the recently electrified heavy rail lines to put down light rail.

            Does it bother you that we choose to build a dual carridgeway with median barriers for the motorway north of auckland, when for queen street we had just upgraded it with something quite different?

        3. @ SLC – Yes, I can see your concerns now, thanks. I strongly suspect the operating regime for light rail in Dominion Road-type-environments will mandate low speed limits, possibly 30Km/h in places. I know that the promoters of Airport LRT via Dom Rd make claims of impressive average speeds but I fear this is misleading wishful-thinking.

          While I would welcome Dom Road LRT as a local service and perhaps even running as far as the airport, I believe that a proper airport rapid-transit connection via heavy rail is of greater importance. But I acknowledge that there is a range of views on this.

          1. Because 30Km/h zones are increasingly being imposed through pedestrian-rich areas around suburban shops etc. There are several in Wellington now. And parts of Dom Road fit very much into this category. As road-safety at last begins to get taken more seriously, 50Km/h is being recognised as too fast for such areas. Expect more of this as time goes on. And expect it to affect any large, new, heavy rail vehicles (yes, even if they are LR they are still pretty heavy) that get added to the streetscape.

          2. I think people greatly over-estimate the importance of the airport as a destination for passengers. The airport rail business case made it pretty clear that airport patronage is <20% of demand. Most of it is all the people living between Mt Roskill and the airport who badly need better public transport.

        4. There is solid protection planned, the LRT will run on a raised section with a 150mm kerb separator. Thats the same thing that stops people driving down the footpath on Dominion Road. It seems universally effective.

          1. Ok, I hope this is not a silly question but what about pedestrains?
            Will there be ped crossings still on Dom, perhaps traffic light controlled with LR priority? or are there plans for footbrdges or underpasses? With a 150mm raised kerb then I assume there is no way for vehicles to cross from a side street to an opposite side street or do right turns from Dom? the only vehicle crossings will be at main junctions?

        5. Dominion road current has bus lanes running directly parallel with road vehicles, yet vehicles running up into the side of busses is not a problem.

          Drivers do end up in the lanes when they want to park illegally or turn left, but that won’t be the case for centre running transit lanes.

        6. I think that we should build light metro instead of light rail, we should grade separate it by building it in a shallow trench down the middle of the road. Then just build a short bridge at intersections so the traffic can cross the trench. This would allow for much higher running speeds and probably double the maximum frequency in both directions.

          If we are going to put rail down Dominion Road, we should do it right.

  9. The existing Roads of National Importance (RONS) could become ROUTES of national importance.
    These could include Auckland to Whangarei and Marsden Point (rail plus road) and Gisborne to Napier (money to reinstate the rail past Wairoa to the country’s most isolated region).

    Alternately- set up something like the Australian Rail Track corporation- funded to build/extend and maintain permanent way. That would allow the various track users- Kiwirail, AT, Transdev to concentrate on their core activity: moving goods and people.

    1. dont forget the stratford okahukura line linking Taranaki with the export ports to the north. The naki is another region that exports rather a lot of bulk commodity milk powder.

    2. I suspect future proofing might mean getting rid of the RoNS concept altogether. Make it a dead duck and it’ll be harder to reinstate next time National’s in.

  10. Given no foreign ownership – P2P’s where is all this infrastructure funding coming from?

    Politicians of all persuasions lie – all the time but particularly during a close election campaign.

    We can already see the Greens have got precisely 5/8 of FA.

    I’m not getting my hopes up too much

    1. The $10bn that National announced they would spend on the second tranche of RoNS is now freed for more worthwhile uses. Plus whatever can be cancelled and salvaged from the $14bn first tranche of RoNS. In theory at least, there should be plenty of money for other transport projects.

      “Show me the money?”
      “Simple. Cancel the RoNS!”

      1. I suspect those RoNS had not been budgeted for, within existing funding envelopes and there would have been a raise in fuel excise tax to pay for them.

          1. If that is the case, Grant Robertson should make sure that despicable fact should be made public and milks it for all the derision it should get.

        1. Yes they hadn’t budgeted for them and it came out after the election this was the case and had been planning to put up petrol taxes to fund them as you say.

  11. Fantastic outcome for transport and housing, hoping Julie Anne gets Transport or some such thing. Regional rail sure fits well with the three parties.

    1. How many workers will we need to import to build the houses?
      I mean, we couldn’t even find 100 shelf stackers (they ended up being recruited from overseas) out of 128,000 unemployed so can’t see any of them building houses.

      1. 90,000 young unemployed and no shelf stackers. Don’t you see this as a serious problem that needs solving with a solution that is not just grab another immigrant. When a country depends on foreigners to do low status jobs there is a problem – a moral problem. I suppose Qatar does it with oil wealth but they are not giving out citizenship.

      2. Vance – “we couldn’t even find 100 shelf stackers” – well, you’re doing it wrong then. There is absolutely no way in hell I want to be recruiting people from overseas just to stack shelves. Totally ridiculous.

      3. The business community has just said that if we’re not going to import wokers (to the same degree) we’re going to have to make sure local people have the skills that are needed. Why hasn’t this been happening already?

        1. Local people already have the skills necessary to be a shelf stacker. Not the highest qualification level that you need to reach…

        2. It is because they prefer immigrants so they can pay them third world wages. I travelled to Australia recently and most working class people I met prefer casual / temporary 3 months contract jobs (that usually roll over) because of the high wages. The demand is huge for these low end jobs because of the wages. At one supermarket I visited (as part of my work trip to Australia), they were interviewing people and there was a queue out the door.

          Maybe if they raise wages in NZ for these low end jobs, they will get their workers.

  12. Most transformative and simple change would be bringing rail under the NZTA umbrella (forcing them to consider it as a way of moving people) – apologies if it’s been mentioned above.

    1. Pretty sure we are importing the EMUs from Spain so not sure what the US dollar has to do with it?

      Also the EMUs are an infinitesimal part of the NZ economy, not sure why you are so obsessed with impacts on their purchase price?

        1. Given CAF is in Spain, and Spain is a member of the EU.

          I’m sure you’ll find we (as a country) spent Euro and not USD to buy the last set of 57 train sets from them.

          And assuming we buy even more trains from CAF, then I’d assume we’d spend even more Euro to do so.

          And since we bought the last lot of trains the Euro has gone up and down and sideways relative to the NZD ending up about the same as it was back then.

          So why should it matter to anyone buying Spanish trains what the NZD/USD rate is?

          And even it it did, for every drop [or rise] in the NZD/USD rates NZ exporters who trade using that currency get more [or less] $NZ as a result.

          It doesn’t actually matter what the current exchange rate is as it pretty much is a zero sum game when considering both exports and imports together as they net off.

          But then I’m sure you know all this and are just stirring the pot and raising irrelevant issues like “the falling sky NZ Dollar” ‘cos you don’t like the facts.

  13. Is it possible that the remit of NZTA could include all transport?
    That is road, rail, air, and coastal shipping, with a proviso that must include carbon emissions considerations as well.

  14. One of the features of the co-alition thus far has been the lack of discussion on Transport.

    There has been absolutely nothing said. We’ve heard plenty about monetary policy, unemployment, education and many other areas but not a smigent about Transport.

    It will be fascinating to see was priority transport takes. Early indications are it may be low on the list.

      1. The sort of projects being discussed in the lead up to the election were big, multi million/billion multi-year projects. It makes sense to me to prioritise these projects so other changes can be worked on.

        I think what will happen is these projects don’t go far past the planning stage in the next 3 years and who knows what happens at the election in 3 years time.

    1. I wouldn’t be half surprised if KiwiRail only receives a portion of funding under this government compared to what National was doing. And that sweet near nothing is done over the next three years of any significance, including light rail. Maybe a commitment for the next term of government.

      1. That would be very disappointing since so many promises were made concerning various transport projects. I suppose we will know soon enough, at least over the next few months

      2. SJC – I know you’re nearer to the coal face of KR than I am, but I would doubt that extremely. National only begrudgingly supported rail. Labour, the Greens, and NZ First all strongly support rail. I fail to see your logic that they fail to fund it in the new government.

        1. What I am saying Guy, is that kiwirail is in a far better position than it has been for decades. 2-3 years of under investment wouldn’t kill it in the mean time while the new government focuses on other priorities outside transport. Like education, health housing etc which have been lacking quite badly. Jacinda has already made note of it publicly, and it seems to already be their focus.

      1. It’s really heartening to see you laughing like this, Vance. Laughing is good for us all. It’s also good to see you learning: the Greens have a very strong focus on social issues. You could look up their social policies, if you like.

        1. I suspect I’ll be have having many laughs in the months ahead.
          How long do you think we’ll have to wait for that bus lane along Puhinui Road to the airport for instance?
          At the moment it looks like we’re headed for another Christmas of flight crew not being able to get to their planes.
          Something that I’m sure is more important than a referendum on weed.

          1. I think the sufferers of chronic pain would have a different view on the importance of medical marijuana vs flight crews to take people on holiday.

          2. Don’t worry Dan.

            Vance is just conflating the roles of Auckland Transport with those of NZTA and the Auckland International Airport Limited [a private company] and lumping them all together as “the gummint”

            And in doing so equating them with a yet to be held referendum on Drug law reform as somehow akin to navel gazing [or Fiddling while Rome burns] of the first order.

            Seems he overlooks the fact that as Puhuinui Road is not a State Highway its entire length, Auckland Transport is the road controlling authority responsible for when and where bus lanes appear only on their half of it. While NZTA is responsible for their part [the eastern end] which is SH20B.

            NZTA is also responsible for the mess that is/was Kirkbride road intersection [SH20A] and of course the motorway itself that feeds on to or off of it [SH20].

            Last I read the reason why traffic got so damn bad near the Airport was due to the poor way NZTA’s construction contractors were managing things at the various State Highway construction sites around the airport roading, not whether or not bus lanes were painted on part of Puhunui road.

            Not that most plane crews ever actually catch a bus, except maybe the Auckland Airports own shuttle bus to or from the park’n ride on Verissimo drive. They mostly drive to or from airport in their own cars – just like everyone else does as well.

            Thus causing the very traffic that they all proclaim is making them late.

            But of course, lack of bus lanes “that causes plane crews” [and thus planes] and their passengers “to be late”, will always be the [new] Governments fault in Vance’s mind. ‘Cos thats how he sees it.

            Now, as to whether a drug reform referendum is more important than any of the hundreds of other things that need doing by the new government given the 9 years of relative inaction from the last government on a transport front? Well thats a value judgement.

            Still it is a little early to spread blame given the new government hasn’t even been sworn in yet. But I guess that doesn’t stop folks swearing at it even so.

            But I think a proper referendum on drug reform, held sometime on the next 3 years [and possibly not until the 2020 election] may well be more important than the useless “lets divert attention away from these difficult issues, so lets change the flag”, process we mainly got from John Key’s 8 or so years of leadership.

            But I agree that if we reform drug laws, we can put dope on the same legal and footing as alcohol, tax/fund it and the inevitable problems accordingly and aim to treat the problems, and not criminalise everyone by implication of being “a dope smoker”.

            Oh and while we’re at it with sorting out useless laws, I vote we lose the stupid bike helmet law for adults too.

          3. 1. What the Greens are proposing is a referendum on legalising recreational cannabis. Not specifically medicinal use.
            Encouraging us to become a nation of pot heads is not going to help us to find train and bus drivers. We can’t even find 100 shelf stackers out of 128,000 unemployed.

            2. Flight crews do use shuttle buses to get to the airport.
            The 380 bus travels along Puhinui Road.
            A bus lane will help flight crews, passengers and workers to have easier access.

            3. If there are competing interests getting in the way of a project happening (ie Puhinui bus lane) then surely it’s the government’s job to facilitate it?

            4.Construction aside, one reason there is so much congestion at the airport is the domestic terminal bottleneck – a single road in.

            But hey, what would I know?

            I know I didn’t bag the Waterview Tunnel like many on here and that’s proven to be a roaring success.

          4. Vance, we are already a nation of pot heads. The question is what’s the best way to deal with it. Have you any evidence from countries such as the Netherlands and Portugal that have decrimilised it, that drug use has become more problematic?

            Something to consider is that there were no deaths in NZ from synthetic cannabis until it was criminalised.

      2. What’s even wrong with that? Me and many friends smoked plenty of dope during teritary years and did that make us lazy? Not at all. We all passed and are working salaried jobs now. Legalising it will cause no changes aside from extra tax money from tourism and locals and people smoking up in their own home. Of course we will still ban them from driving, smoking in public places and give them the sack if they arrived at work stoned, it will be treated just like alcohol. But the negative affects of Marijuana will be far less than alcohol.

        The fact that some Nat people get so anal about potheaded being lazy but falls silent on family and street violence caused by alcohol shows how hypocritical they can be.

  15. Thursday 19th October 2017 – Mark this day down in history as the Day Auckland Transport changed forever. Truly historic and bloody wonderful. Absolutely ecstatic. The room I was in erupted when Winston said the magic words.

    1. My room did likewise, although I thought he might go National initially. We now have the environment for the rail network to grow, amongst other things. Let’s have a long weekend to celebrate. We’ll call it Labour Weekend (sorry).

      1. Let’s start by reintroducing rail to Helensville. Oh, hang on, we’ve done that already and it was an epic failure.
        On a more serious note I would extend rail services to Tuakau and Pokeno on a trial basis and see what happens.

    2. I’d probably wait for the actual detail of what’s going to happen, but don’t let that get in the way of sweeping statements.

  16. I hope we get some of NZ first housing policy.
    I think leaving it to private developers wil not develop enough affordable properties for First Time Home buyers.
    And a full government system will land us with thousands of boxes in the valley.
    I truly think a government organisation buying land and laying services and road’s and selling the sections at cost with finance, then leaving it to the new owners to finance and build the house.
    This way the construction company’s builders and other trades workers get there cut but no developers taking there massive cut.
    This program will not cost the tax payer. It will all be payed back with interest and every first home buyer can live the kiwi dream and live in Auckland.

    1. There will be big moves made in housing. Housing and government intervention in the housing market was a big priority for all 3 parties. It is about bloody time too!

  17. I really hope this means they will slam KiwiRail for attempting to dismiss the use of the electric Locomotives in the Central NI. Along with more funding for Interislander.

  18. Labour are definitely good on transport, but I don’t know whether Jacinda Ardern understands Aucklanders’ housing needs. In the worst case, over the 2014 campaign I’ve saw her project her own ideas about what is “acceptable housing” on the rest of us; in the best case she was a little out of touch and there’s no evidence she’s changed.

    In Auckland Central, there simply can’t be enough housing. I’ve known quite a few people in the city who will share bedrooms with strangers or acquaintances because the rent is simply too high to afford one’s own place. In that context, criticizing Bill English for wanting to allow apartments smaller than 40sqm, as Jacinda did, is completely backwards. Instead, we need more micro-apartments to bring the prices down so more people can afford their own place. Microapartments are done well in major cities all over the world; there’s no reason Auckland can’t be part of that trend for micro-apartments as well as compact apartments that might be slightly smaller than 40sqm.

    Specifically:

    1) In response to a Radio NZ article about a young guy who shares a room in an apartment with 3 others, her response in 2014 is to attack Bill English for wanting to allow apartments smaller than 40sqm; you’re apparently slumming it if your apartment is smaller than that. Does she think 35sqm to yourself is too small, somehow, but 40sqm shared with 6 other people is decent? https://www.facebook.com/jacindaardern/posts/10152274600872441

    2) Just last year, she’s on record opposing the replacement of King’s Arms with apartments. It is truly an iconic venue, so I’m sympathetic, but I’d hope that for our prime minister, basic needs like housing come before middle class kids’ access to a sweet gig venue (of which their remain quite a few in the Auckland CBD; has Jacinda been down to Whammy lately? Galatos comes to mind, too) https://www.facebook.com/jacindaardern/photos/a.10151312135452441.1073741827.45300632440/10153399632457441/?type=3&theater

  19. Hey with Rotorua’s Fletcher Tabuteau been appointed under-Secretary to Minister for Regional Economic Development would seem like a bit more likely Regional Rail would make it to Rotorua in the nearer future.

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