[Sitting date: 17 July 2012. Volume:681;Page:3537. Text is incorporated into the Bound Volume.]
JULIE ANNE GENTER (Green) to the
Minister of Transport: How much was spent on investigation, design, and other preparatory work for the now cancelled Otaki to Levin expressway?
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE (Minister of Transport)
: To date a total of $1.1 million has been spent on investigation, design, and preparatory work, which has led the New Zealand Transport Agency to a decision to improve safety on the road and delay expenditure on the four-lane expressway into the future. And I think that is money well spent.
Julie Anne Genter: Was it fiscally prudent for the National Government to commit to building the roads of so-called national significance before business cases had been undertaken, only to now start cancelling some of them after spending over $216 million on planning work alone?
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: No roads of national significance have been cancelled. What I would say is that I have had a look at some of the expenditure that the New Zealand Transport Agency has committed to over recent times. There are a number of reports that I think do represent questionable value. They are, for example, the one on the impact of urban form on economic performance,
Valuing Urban Design, and
Business case for walking and cycling. I think they are jaw droppingly expensive and, quite frankly, a total waste of time.
Julie Anne Genter: Given his statement on 3 April that he would not review the prioritisation of the roads of national significance in light of officials’ repeated warnings that there is a multibillion-dollar funding gap, and his statement on 9 May that the roads of national significance will cost what they will cost, were New Zealand Transport Agency officials correct to say that cost was a reason that the Ōtaki to Levin expressway was cancelled?
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: The Ōtaki to Levin expressway is not one of the roads of national significance.
Julie Anne Genter: Will he admit that spending most of the transport budget on building a few expensive motorways is not the best, most cost-effective way to improve safety and move more people and freight around the country, as we have seen with Ōtaki to Levin?
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: No. Of course I will not.
Julie Anne Genter: Will further low-value roads of national significance projects be cancelled, such as the $1.7 billion Pūhoi to Wellsford project, which has lower traffic volumes and a worse benefit-cost ratio than the now cancelled Ōtaki to Levin expressway; if not, why not?
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: No, because we think it does have the potential to carry a lot more traffic in the future—far more, in fact, than the tunnel through Auckland for the train with nobody on it.
Julie Anne Genter: I seek leave to table the traffic volumes from Ōtaki to Levin and from Warkworth to Wellsford, which show that Warkworth to Wellsford has lower traffic volumes and a significantly declining rate of traffic volumes, as does Ōtaki to Levin.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table those documents. [Interruption] I beg your pardon. The source of the documents?
Julie Anne Genter: The New Zealand Transport Agency, but they have been compiled by the Parliamentary Library.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document, compiled by the Parliamentary Library. Is there any objection? There is no objection.
Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Julie Anne Genter: I seek leave to table this data from Auckland Transport, which shows that the entire—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The document itself is prepared by?
Julie Anne Genter: The Parliamentary Library, which had to contact Auckland Transport to get the numbers. It shows that the rail system in Auckland is carrying over 30,000 people a day, which is four times more than the number of people being carried on Pūhoi to Wellsford.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is objection.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I seek leave to table a list of the National Party MPs who have represented the north for the last four decades, hence explaining the very poor roads up there.
Mr SPEAKER: The source of the document?
Rt Hon Winston Peters: The E9 from the last election, for the last four decades.
Mr SPEAKER: That document is readily available to members of the House, if I heard the member correctly.
Julie Anne Genter: Will the Minister now subject the remaining roads of national significance to Treasury’s better business cases guidelines, which the city rail link has been subjected to, so that New Zealanders can be sure we are getting the best value for money from $14 billion of taxpayers’ investment?
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: The member’s assertion about the rule being run over the proposed Auckland rail tunnel is simply wrong. What I will instruct the New Zealand Transport Agency to do is to stop paying for reports like that on the impact of urban form on economic performance, Valuing Urban Design,
and Business case for walking and cycling, all compiled for the New Zealand Transport Agency by the member, at a huge cost—a jaw-dropping cost, in fact.