[Sitting date: 13 September 2012. Volume:683;Page:5222. Text is incorporated into the Bound Volume.]
PHIL TWYFORD (Labour—Te
Atatū) to the
Minister of Transport: Does he stand by all his statements on the Roads of National Significance?
Hon MAURICE WILLIAMSON (Minister for Building and Construction) on behalf of the
Minister of Transport: Yes.
Phil Twyford: When he said that “by 2020 the roads of national significance will have about a billion dollar annual effect on our economy in a positive way.”, was that estimate based on economic modelling; if so, will he release that advice?
Hon MAURICE WILLIAMSON: Indeed, I believe that it was based on economic modelling. There are a number of tables that show what the benefit-cost ratios of each of the projects are, including the wider economic benefits of different discount rates.
Phil Twyford: Does he think it is fair that the New Zealand Transport Agency is spending $1 billion a year on new State highways, has spent $14.9 million on consultants for the
Pūhoi to Wellsford motorway and $1.6 million on public relations for the same motorway, and has $33 million budgeted for the next 3 years, but says that it has no money to purchase the home of Bob and Jill Scott, even though the planned route goes through the middle of their home?
Hon MAURICE WILLIAMSON: The purchase of a particular person’s property for a particular route into the future, I would have thought, is very much an operational matter for the New Zealand Transport Agency.
Phil Twyford: Given the Government’s intention to borrow for State highways, does he think Northlanders would prefer the country to borrow to build a duplicate road that would slice a few minutes off the journey time between Auckland and the
Ōmaha turn-off, or would they prefer the nearly $3,000 each of them would get every year for the rest of their lives for the same cost?
Hon MAURICE WILLIAMSON: First of all, I question the member’s numbers. Frankly, I know that the people of Northland are desperately keen to see the State
highway network expanded, because the volumes of traffic on it are growing all the time. The fact that the Opposition label it as the “Holiday Highway” I find outrageous, given the huge volumes of freight and the huge volumes of people who have to travel on it as part of their work.
Phil Twyford: I seek leave to table calculations by Dr Rhema
Vaithianathan, an economist at Auckland University’s business school, that show that the cost of borrowing to fund the
Wellsford highway would be the same as writing everyone in Northland a
cheque for $2,986 every year—
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is objection.
Phil Twyford: Is the Minister aware of a 2008 report prepared by Sinclair Knight
Merz consultants—the current consultants working on the
Wellsford project—that said that “the scope for substantial economic growth with the upgrading of SH1 is limited.”, and “Even a significant increase in this contribution of the project [to tourism] would be modest when set against the likely costs of road upgrading.”, and does he agree with the project’s consultants on this matter?
Hon MAURICE WILLIAMSON: I am aware that when any huge projects of the nature of the roads of national significance are proposed, a wide range of views are held. Those who are opposed to building roading networks come out with some of the most shonky figures to try to prove why you should not do them, and those who support them come out with their numbers. I think the numbers that the New Zealand Transport Agency is using, which are well founded, well analysed, and well based on, are the actual numbers that this House should give some credence to.