In an interesting move the auditor general specifically mentioned the City Rail Link in comments on the Auckland Council Long Term Plan, the NZ Herald reports:
The Auditor-General is cautioning Aucklanders about the $2.86 billion inner-city rail loop, saying it will need to be reviewed if the Government does not support it.
In a rare move, the Auditor-General has included a statement in Mayor Len Brown’s first 10-year budget about the risk associated with the rail project.
“The main risks to the city rail loop project are that central Government will not agree to provide direct funding to enable the council to access alternative funding sources,” the statement says.
Speaking on behalf of Auditor-General Lyn Provost, audit director Francis Caetano told the council that if the council could not get Government support it would have to review the project as part of the next long-term budget in 2015.
Mr Brown has assumed the Government will fund half the $2.86 billion project in the 10-year budget, which yesterday received a “fit for purpose” tick by the Auditor-General and final sign-off by the council.
Personally I’m not too concerned about this as I do think the government will come on board, either as a result of a change in government or that the current crowd will support it to help gain votes to win an election. The auditor general’s comments just highlight that it’s unrealistic to expect the project’s construction to proceed without government support – once again something that we knew already. What’s more the project will probably end up being the most thoroughly researched transport project in NZ. This is because of the current opposition to it from central government, Auckland Transport is having to go back and make sure that it’s arguments are rock solid.
When the government rejected the original business case, they had a list of specific questions that the council/AT needed to address. These are currently being answered and I suspect that a will see the answers come out as part of the designation process.
So overall I’m not worried about this and perhaps the auditor general could also take a look at some of the claims about the RoNS projects.