‘Let’s do this’ Ardern promise for light rail now ‘let’s do this later, if NZ First let us’

Minister of Transport Phil Twyford has admitted that a Labour promise for a light rail line in Auckland to be completed by 2021 will not be kept, but he says that the Jacinda Ardern promise was made before she was Prime Minister.

Newshub: Jacinda Ardern breaks the first promise she made as Labour leader

The first promise Jacinda Ardern made as Labour leader looks to have gone up in smoke.

During her first big public outing as leader during the election, she promised rail for all – including a line from the Auckland waterfront to Dominion Rd to Mount Roskill, all to be completed by 2021.

The promise was part of a $15 billion package and came with a plea from Ms Ardern – she needed cash to fund it.

“You can call a regional fuel tax ‘crowd-sourcing’ if you like,” she told the public.

That part of the promise did come true: Aucklanders are paying the 10 cents a litre more at the pump.

But Labour hasn’t done the rail part.

On Wednesday, Transport Minister Phil Twyford admitted the Government would fail to build light rail down Dominion Rd by 2021. Instead, he only expects work to start on it next year.

Mr Twyford’s defence is that promises made by Jacinda Ardern as Labour leader are completely different from promises made by Jacinda Ardern as Prime Minister.

NZ Herald (6 August 2017): Jacinda Ardern outlines Labour’s light rail plan for Auckland

Labour is promising to build a 20km light rail line from the city to the airport as a priority – partly funded by higher petrol prices – leader Jacinda Ardern announced today.

She says Labour will build light rail from Wynyard Quarter to Mt Roskill within four years, followed by light rail from Mt Roskill to the airport and light rail to West Auckland within 10 years.

I wonder if this is another scrapping of an interim target but retaining the 10 year target (as the Government has done with KiwiBuild targets).

“I believe Labour’s plan is a game-changer. It will reduce the $2b a year that congestion costs Auckland. It will realise Auckland’s potential to be a truly world class city,” said Ardern.

She said Labour will give Auckland Council the power to introduce a regional petrol tax – understood to be 10 cents a litre – to help pay for light rail. Infrastructure bonds and targeted rates will also be used to fund transport in Auckland.

A world class city needs a rail connection from the CBD to its international airport – that’s why Labour will build light rail to Auckland Airport as a priority, said Ardern.

The fuel tax to fund it was a priority – it is already being paid in Auckland.

But the actual building seems to be less of a priority – or it was a promise made without a proper assessment of how long it might take to do.

Twyford was still talking up light rail in Auckland as a game changer yesterday in parliament, but the game was going into extra time.

Question No. 8—Transport

8. Hon PAUL GOLDSMITH (National) to the Minister of Transport: Is he committed to building light rail from the city to the airport in Auckland and if so, when will work begin?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD (Minister of Transport): Yes. Light rail will be a game-changer for Auckland. It will be a magnet for private investment in urban renewal, and each line will be able to carry 11,000 commuters per hour, the equivalent of four lanes of motorway. The light rail project will extend Auckland’s rapid transit network, a core part of our plan to build a modern transport system for the city. There is a procurement process under way now, so work has already started.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: Is the Government on track to have built light rail from Wynyard Quarter to Mount Roskill within four years of becoming Government, as promised by Jacinda Ardern in August 2017?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: At that point, Jacinda Ardern was not the Prime Minister.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. That’s not answering—

SPEAKER: Well, it answered as much as the Minister has any responsibility for it.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: Well, the core part of the question was—

SPEAKER: Well, the member can ask it again. Ask another question if he wants to.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: Is the Government on track to have built light rail from Wynyard Quarter to Mount Roskill within four years of becoming Government?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: I’ve expressed the view that we hope to have shovels in the ground in 2020. There’s a procurement process under way; that’s what we’re working towards.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: So is that another target he no longer intends to keep?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: I reject the premise of the question.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: Does the Minister agree with infrastructure Minister Shane Jones’ message to Phil Goff about the light rail project: “I would say before Phil Goff gets too enthusiastic about the Dominion Road idea he needs to sort out how he’s going to fund the CRL project. It hasn’t been completed yet and now he’s got to find $500 million to $1 billion for that.”?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: Well, I would point out that the light rail project is being pursued through the Auckland Transport Alignment Project and is expected to be funded and financed as part of that 30-year transport plan, and funded partly through the National Land Transport Programme. The member will know that the City Rail Link project that was entered into under the former National Government is funded through Crown contributions—completely separate from the National Land Transport Programme.

Twyford fobbed off the promise as “At that point, Jacinda Ardern was not the Prime Minister.” Does that mean that any promises made by Ardern during the election campaign are not worth the PR they were written by?

An implication raised here is that NZ First are not playing ball in Labour’s ambitious game changer.

Can any election ‘promise’ be taken seriously when governing agreements negate them?

Single party claims like “Labour will build light rail to Auckland Airport as a priority” are meaningless if Labour is not going to run a majority Government alone.

Leave a comment


  1. David

     /  14th February 2019

    The Waterview tunnel is absolutely fabulous and you can get straight to downtown Auckland incredibly quickly, there is a bus that is a fabulous service (so I hear) with wifi etc.
    The light rail connection is a colossal waste of money and will cause more traffic chaos and congestion, there are far better uses of the public transport fund and I am with Ardern and Twyford in binning this election bribe, doubt she won many votes but it certainly burnished her credentials amongst folk who like this public transport thing for the poor people.

    • Finbaar Rustle

       /  14th February 2019

      Yes let’s not waste money on this “public transport thing for poor people”.
      Lets have rich people driving Porches and huge SUV’s causing
      tail backs to Welsford and Pokeno

      • Pink David

         /  14th February 2019

        “Yes let’s not waste money on this “public transport thing for poor people”.”

        Trains are for the wealthy urban professionals, not the poor.

      • David

         /  14th February 2019

        I said there are better public transport options. Why not read before attacking. The tram would be largely tourists not hard working locals finding a cheaper way to get to work. Why build a tram when you have a parallel brand new motorway.

        • Finbaar Rustle

           /  14th February 2019

          The hole your digging for yourself just gets bigger and bigger just admit it you got burned.

    • Gerrit

       /  14th February 2019

      The question really is not about the envy element in regards Porches and SUV versus poor people. The question is about how well served are the poor people are by this light rail public transport system proposal.

      Is it the best bang for bucks option? Is a better public transport option for poor people a heavy rail link to the airport from Puhinui with local bus services to link rail with the businesses in and around the airport and George Bolt Drive?

      Even the most tram efficient city in the southern hemisphere does not run trams to its airport (Melbourne). Not even a train. Bus services only for public transport.

      Sydney and Brisbane run trains. But these are PPP ones and are reasonably expensive.

      Yet again those living in the eastern Suburbs are missing out on a public transport system. No trains, no trams, just buses. Surely a tram service around the eastern suburbs would be a better starting point? Manukau to Botany (there is provision on Ti Irirangi Drive for a tramway) would be a starter.

      Point David was making is that the CBD is pretty well served with public transport (especially bus services through Waterview). I would add the North Shore as well with their dedicated bus roads and park and ride car parks.

      Those car parks are envied here in South Auckland. We get a measly amount compared to the North Shore (which are way to small over there anyway).

      South and Eastern Auckland are very poorly serviced by public transport and with the CoL not proceeding with the two by-pass highways (from Redoubt Road to Drury and East Tamaki to Onehunga), access to points north and south is via a very congested Highbrook, Manukau, Manurewa, Takanini corridor.

  2. Ray

     /  14th February 2019

    Twyford really does have the opposite of the golden touch, more like everything he touches goes down the dunny.

    • Gezza

       /  14th February 2019

      He has what is known as the Reverse Midas Touch.

      • Gezza

         /  14th February 2019

        Hon PHIL TWYFORD: I reject the premise of the question.

        Let’s face it, Phil – most people I reckon now reject the premise you should even survive the upcoming Cabinet reshuffle. You are an utter nincompoop.

    • Blazer

       /  14th February 2019

      Twyford has the most difficult tasks to address of any minister.

      Tasks that National ignored ,tasks that National apply ‘kick the can ,down the..road’.

      • PDB

         /  14th February 2019

        Time for Twyford to man up and hide behind a pillar from journalists like Lees-Galloway…

  3. NOEL

     /  14th February 2019

    Not surprising. Ron Marks tabled the recommendations for changes to Veterans legislation back in August last year.

  4. Duker

     /  14th February 2019

    The light rail to the Airport predated the change of government , as I think Auckland Transport had a project team working on it very early 2017.
    Seems to be a career/empire building move for senior managers within AT.
    They did fudges with the scope of the project to make the ‘numbers work’.
    Firstly the Mt Rokill section wasnt going to have enough traffic to make the cost benefits work ( even if every vehicle on Dominion Rd became a passenger plus existing bus passengers), so they ‘extended’ it to the airport as in theory thats a lot of workers and passengers to tap into and thats way of making the cost benefit even better. Trouble with that is the airport wins everytime on space to park cars.
    The other benefit seemed to be based on ‘running out of space’ for buses in CBD during morning peak . That to was based on a fudge that the trams were super long, ( twice as long as the very long articulated trams in Melbourne), in reality they would a single tram and not two coupled together.
    Auckland CBD seemed to manage with a lot more passengers on the small old trams during their heyday.
    if necessary for Dominion Rd , they can indroduce very long bendy buses- which look like trams but are buses, without laying tracks down the middle of the road – worst place for passengers to get on and off.

    • Gerrit

       /  14th February 2019

      We used to have long bendy buses made by Mercedes.
      These are superseded by smaller foot print double decker buses.
      Problem with the bendy buses was their axle loading’s. Not strictly road legal at the time but allowances (over weight permits) made for certain routes if the roads were up to it. Hence they could not be used anywhere else but in Auckland.

      • Duker

         /  14th February 2019

        Axle limits have increased since then, anyway many buses around that time had two axles at rear for the low load suburban streets, main routes are fine for heavier loading.
        These new articulated buses are even longer, and only suitable for main roads , not suburban back streets

  5. PartisanZ

     /  14th February 2019

    Judging from the widespread enthusiasm I see for Auckland Light Rail … Who the fuck cares!?

    A proper history of Auckland transport would be fascinating …

    When I was growing up it was all about Dove-Meyer Robinson’s Light Rail … which got scuppered …

    But before that I believe Syd Holland’s grotesque First National Government had scuppered plans for a properly planned development of Auckland City which included comprehensive rail corridors …

    They probably bowed to the Oil, Motor Car and Motorway Construction Industries way back then?

    • PartisanZ

       /  14th February 2019

      The lesson to be learned …

      Never let Federated Farmers run a country.

    • Duker

       /  14th February 2019

      “When I was growing up it was all about Dove-Meyer Robinson’s Light Rail … which got scuppered ‘

      Which town did you grow up in ,as Robbie was for suburban or ‘heavy rail’ with a city tunnel

      “In the late 1960s, Auckland Mayor Sir Dove-Myer Robinson pushed for an underground rail loop which became known as “Robbie’s Rapid Rail”, but Sir Robert Muldoon’s newly elected National government scrapped the plan.”

      Too much cannabis when you were ‘young’ has clouded your memory

    • Trevors_elbow

       /  14th February 2019

      You hate is pure at least Parti…

  1. ‘Let’s do this’ Ardern promise for light rail now ‘let’s do this later, if NZ First let us’ — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition

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