Infrastructure spending splash – conservativeness disappointing

The Government announced details of $12 billion of infrastructure spending, splashing big money mostly around Auckland and the North island, and a lot of it in roading, but despite Jacinda Ardern promoting it as “a once in a lifetime opportunity to invest in New Zealand” it is really quite a conservative, and it’s lack of innovation and it’s failure to prioritise the supposed ‘biggest problem of Ardern’s generation’, climate change has been very disappointing for some, including myself.

Much of what is being funded could have been included in normal budget announcements, but this is clearly packaged to kick off an election campaign.

Labour and National have ended up arguing about who deserves the credit for the many roading projects to be funded – (so much for Ardern’s positive politics promise.

Rail gets some funds, but scratches the surface of alternatives to fossil fuel use.

The South Island gets a disproportionately small amount, with Orago and Southland just about missing out altogether apart from a few million dollars to try and sort out Queenstown traffic problems.

NZ First get another billion dollars or so to dish out on top of the Provincial Growth Fund so no doubt hope that this helps attract (buy) a few more votes.

The Greens have tried to talk up their ‘wins’, but must disappointed with the huge focus on roading, and they get much less to play with for their preferred projects than NZ First. There is some funding for converting schools from coal to wood heating, but just 8 schools out of the 200 or so using coal furnaces will get initial funding.

Many of of the big spends are on roading projects that had been announced (but not funded) by the last National government and dumped by Labour when they took over.

So this looks like a big splash of cash on ‘same old’ type projects, with Labour and National arguing about semantics, making this appear largely like a Tweedledum/dee Labourlite/Nationallite sort of iniative, with little initiative used in applying the big borrowing to transformative future looking projects.

The Labour leaning The Standard post on the announcement – The Government’s $12 billion infrastructure package – is slammed by the greener participants. The first comments:

Sacha

I am disgusted. What a wasted opportunity.

Building more roads is utterly the wrong thing to do if these clowns were serious about climate action. Another win for the dinosaurs. Young people will be well pissed off.

weka

I can’t even rally the energy to try and blame some of it on Peters.

Ad provides their analysis here including:

There’s a tiny bit for Green special projects like removing a few of the 200 coal-fired boilers from school heating systems.

https://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA2001/S00124/flicking-the-switch-on-a-clean-powered-public-service.htm

There’s nothing on a signature scale like the CRL was from National in October 2016. Nor anything about shifting the Auckland port, given the Prime Minister stated that it will move. Nothing on light rail for Auckland – just a general hint that every time we pay a ticket we support our own superannuation.

https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12292277

Not a whole bunch of national plan or coherence to it all.

But they are all projects that needed doing.

Projects that probably should have been happening already, but lacking in anything bold.

It’s a lot of money to underwhelm with.

Beehive blurb:


Roads, rail, schools and hospitals will be built and upgraded across the country under the $12 billion New Zealand Upgrade Programme announced today, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says.

Minister for State Owned Enterprises Winston Peters says the funding of four major rail projects under the New Zealand Upgrade Programme is yet another step in the right direction for New Zealand’s long-term rail infrastructure.

A new programme to build and upgrade roads, rail, schoo

The Government’s programme of new investments in roads and rail will help future proof the economy, get our cities moving, and make our roads safer.

The New Zealand Upgrade Programme to modernise the economy includes new and expanded child health, maternity and mental health facilities as part of a package of priority health investments.

Infrastructure and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones says today’s capital investment announcements show the Coalition Government is the Government of Infrastructure.

Our Government’s programme to upgrade infrastructure and modernise the economy will help more communities to be part of the solution to climate change through a clean-powered public service.

 

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22 Comments

  1. artcroft

     /  30th January 2020

    National supports these projects so they’ll go ahead even if Labour loses the next election. A really magical moment would be if Labour did lose in Nov and then spent the next 3 years in opposition campaigning against the motorways they promised to build – because you know, climate change is our nuclear free issue and ll. – it could happen lol.

    Reply
    • Corky

       /  30th January 2020

      That would be funnier than pig lard on your trigger finger, Arty.

      Reply
      • Duker

         /  30th January 2020

        Thats Nationals schtick, support it now then oppose it later. They had only been in opposition 5 min when the smaller parliament committees they pushed for in government was something they were now totally opposed to. Even in government they opposed the longer maternity leave provisions which they later flipped over to promise longer at election time.
        Carbon Neutral, raised merry hell for 2 years on that, but voted unanimously when it came time, but surely will flip again if they get back in government.

        Reply
        • Corky

           /  30th January 2020

          Welcome to politics,Duker. They do whatever is necessary to gain the treasury benches. Lie, cheat, denigrate and hypocrisy are all part of the deal. That’s what happens when we don’t have a constitution, and political parties pay lip service to their philosophic roots.

          I see Labour is borrowing up large. What happened to the surplus? All down the gurgler?

          Reply
          • Duker

             /  30th January 2020

            I reckon 50% of infrastructure projects get announced multiple times over many years, as its still a long time till real money gets spent. Im surprised that more hospitals arent included, not necessarily a total rebuild but often for outpatients or emergency etc. The trouble with new hospitals is that to make the ‘business case work’ they have to reduce the numbers of beds they had previously. Just nuts

            Reply
  2. Corky

     /  30th January 2020

    So, the bottom line is Labour has woken up to the fact cars are king and that isn’t going to change for a long time. Therefore either get with building roads or look like dicks believing there is a sound viable alternative.

    But what about labour and skills shortages? And why build a 5 million dollar cycle way in Victoria Street, Auckland, only to have it ripped up in a couple of years time?

    And what about Canterbury and Taranaki? Little joy for them.

    Reply
    • duperez

       /  30th January 2020

      Maybe some in Canterbury and Taranaki will get some joy out of the reactions to yesterdays announcement. Some around the country are more pissed off that the government is going to do some work with the chance of getting credit for it, than happy that work they thought the most important in the history of the world is going to happen. That will be a source of joy for people I know in Canterbury and Taranaki.

      Labour and skills shortages? Maybe they should have said nothing was to happen in the next six years while people were trained to do the essential work. A pity that wasn’t the announcement, the reaction to that would have been priceless.

      The bottom line is some people would fall down a sewer and come up with a gold Rolex and then complain that the time on it’s a minute out and they have to adjust it.

      Reply
      • Duker

         /  30th January 2020

        Those regions were still going to benefit from the switch in spending to ‘improving state highways’ ie upgrades and by passes that Coalition indroduced after the election.
        Thats the real difference , national was taking money from provincial road spending to put into the expensive RONS.
        Labour is sticking with the more provincial money spend but adding new money for the ‘new highways’

        Reply
  3. David

     /  30th January 2020

    What are electric cars supposed to drive on, a carpet of air as they float around.
    Test drove the Jaguar IPace the other day and it was truly amazing, definitely the future but we need a few more fast charging stations. It drove on a road for the wowsers complaining.

    Reply
  4. Maggy Wassilieff

     /  30th January 2020

    So James Shaw has won $200M out of the $7Billion that is being allocated.

    That’s less than 3% of the infrastructure spend-up.

    But Greens make up 11-12% of the Coalition Government’s Ministers/MPs

    Looks like a Green vote is a wasted vote.

    Reply
    • duperez

       /  30th January 2020

      Good old maths and stats eh? Apparently Taranaki didn’t feature large in projects announced yesterday. The small percentage means Taranaki is a waste of space?

      Or should Steven Joyce be sent there to magic up some more money for them? He’s good at magicking up big amounts – like $11 point something billion. He could give it to James Shaw to allocate wherever Shaw sees fit.

      Shaw and his lot would likely never have had this comparison made about them. Owen Franks played 108 games for the All Blacks but did not score one point. Was putting him in the team a waste? Maths and stats can do that

      Reply
    • Corky

       /  30th January 2020

      Come to the dark side, Maggy….come ! 👹

      Reply
  5. David

     /  30th January 2020

    In defense of Ardern and climate change there is not a lot she can do, we have pretty much the greenest power grid on earth, she is funding removing coal boilers, throwing a bit at trains. There is not a lot she could do and its an infrastructure package after all.
    She basically doesnt really know how to run a country and hasnt really learnt much in 2 years and to be fair she is a new Mum and has bigger priorities, she has a pretty hopeless cabinet who havent stepped up but are a little leaderless.
    Its a good move to basically steal the previous governments shovel ready projects and at the end of the day the countless videos of Twyford saying the projects were all crap just embarrass someone who has zero credibility anyway. Its good politics.

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  30th January 2020

      comedy gold!
      done a pretty good job of running NZ….political commentators are unanimous…great kudos and mana overseas too.

      join the sour grapes club with…Al.

      Reply
  6. Alan Wilkinson

     /  30th January 2020

    I don’t see the point of a four lane highway from Whangarei to Marsden Point. Most of the traffic seems to be logging trucks. Connecting rail there and four lane road to Auckland seem far more urgent.

    Reply
    • duperez

       /  30th January 2020

      It’s another 30km (or so) towards Wellsford, another brick in the wall.

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  30th January 2020

        Are the routing it down SH1 or more direct?

        Reply
        • duperez

           /  30th January 2020

          I don’t know. I’d presumed it’t need to be based on the present SH1. A look at the satellite view suggests some of the complications.

          https://www.google.com/maps/place/Oakleigh/@-35.8165338,174.3147507,9814m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x6d0c81072101b671:0x500ef6143a2ec80!8m2!3d-35.8330868!4d174.3147382

          Enough around claim it was all go for Warkworth to Whangarei on National’s re-election at the end of 2017 with spades ready to be shoved in the ground. This is the best I can find:

          Click to access whangarei-to-auckland-recommended-programme-infographic-A3.pdf

          Reply
          • Duker

             /  30th January 2020

            That was fanciful claim , National does it all the time before elections to say that bypasses, hospitals and school rebuilds are ‘all ready to go’ , but after the election its different.
            The only highway stopped under new Government was the Bethlehem bypass in Bridges electorate, that had some preliminary work under way , and a very expensive short motorway in Onehunga was going through the planning process.
            Thats the cincher , to have the planning approval all done has to happen before construction starts and often wait for the money, which can still have a waiting time.

            Reply
          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  30th January 2020

            It all seems very bizarre. They’re spending a slow fortune on the southern exit from Whangarei and it has awful congestion after 4pm. If they made a new route south direct to Marsden Point I suppose it could function as the eventual motorway route to Auckland. Doesn’t seem to make any sense if it isn’t.

            Reply
          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  30th January 2020

            And how is a train to Moerewa going to make any economic sense? More bizarre.

            Reply
  7. Tom Hunter

     /  30th January 2020

    …applying the big borrowing to transformative future looking projects.

    Well this is one of the big problems: for all the yammering from Greenies and Warmists about “transformative” projects they’re beung stymied by the basic facts of physics when it comes to energy production, distribution and use, particularly when it comes to base-load electricity and base-load energy production/consumption.

    Globally the only thing that would be transformative in this area would be nuclear fusion, and that promise is as far off as it has been for decades, to whit, an old physics joke from the 1980’s: Fusion is the energy source of the future – and it always will be

    Nuclear fission would be a semi-transformative effort globally but the world would have to build something like 14 nuclear power plants per month for the next decade just to replace the coal-burning proportion of 2017 – and that’s ignoring electrical consumption growth in Africa, China and India and also ignoring electricity from gas-fired stations. Oh – and that assumes each nuclear plant would be twice the size of the average US nuclear plant now. I see no signs of such a program.

    Back here in NZ, as one writer above pointed out, we’re pretty nearly there in terms of renewable energy thanks only to past hydro-dam construction. Pushing beyond that 70-80% figure to 100% so that Huntly can be dumped is proving to be a bigger heart attack risk than the COL first thought. People like NoRightTurn can talk all they like about changing the pricing structure of power so that Huntly is not rewarded for being a peak producer, but that simply ignores the fact that that comes from the result of being a backup producer – and solar/wind need backup, a lot. Again, more talk of our hydro-stations being used as such, together with pumped schemes. People who suggest that aren’t noticing that Huntly was built precisely for the purpose of backing up our hydro, which was known even in the 1950’s as being exposed to drought in the South Island. Not much of a backup and god knows what the cost would be for building artifical pumped-storage backups.

    Still, it’s good to see Genter facing up to the transport realities. Much better than being a fanatical ideologue.

    Reply

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