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The government’s bizarre response to the Auckland Plan

Central government has put together an official response to the Council’s Auckland Plan. While in many areas there’s support and agreement, one obvious place where the two views don’t match up is in relation to transport. Discussion around the government’s position on the Council’s transport plans for the next 30 years is quite extensive, but a little bit hard to comprehend. Firstly, this section of the transport response can’t even quite get right the proportions between intensification and expansion the Auckland Plan signals:I had thought the final position of the Auckland Plan on this matter was to provide for either a 70/30 or 60/40 split, with the goal being to achieve the 70/30. Reading back up the govt response a bit actually confirms this matter, so I assume the mistake in this section is just another example of the Ministry of Transport being useless
Moving along, it become obvious pretty quickly that the government response is pretty much based on the results of various transport modelling exercises undertaken, which suggest that despite us building a huge amount of additional transport infrastructure over the next 30 years, congestion is still going to get worse. We’ve questioned previously the accuracy of this modelling, with the Council also highlighting that it might be worried about some of these future projections, but despite this it seems for now, the modelling is gospel:  I’ve yet to see a city build its way out of congestion, so in a way perhaps these numbers aren’t particularly surprising. Remember that the final version of the Auckland Plan proposes to spend around 57% of transport dollars on roads over the next 30 years compared to 40% on public transport. Perhaps a split giving more to public transport might lead to a better outcome. But for some reason I don’t think this is what central government’s response is hinting at.

Adding to this, the response then takes a particularly strange step in criticising the Council’s efforts to raise additional money to try and construct the big projects to at least ease the extent to which congestion worsens over the next 30 years:The focus on ensuring value for money is achieved from the transport package before embarking upon looking for additional funding sources is sensible, but once again I would suggest that central government should be careful not to be throwing stones while living in the glass house of the RoNS programme. Plus a couple of the projects which are likely to provide least value for money are also roading projects: namely an additional harbour crossing (a BCR of around 0.3 last time we looked) and the “East West Link”, a $1.5 billion solution to a $100 million problem. Yet I once again somehow doubt this is exactly what the government’s thinking while writing this feedback.

I suspect this argument isn’t going to go away any time soon. But it’d be good if central government would tell the world what it thinks the transport solutions for Auckland might be – a Dominion Road motorway perhaps? All their criticism without any useful suggestions, plus criticising the spending of extra money while at the same time presumably criticising the lack of spending and its resulting congestion, when put together it just quite bizarre.

12 comments to The government’s bizarre response to the Auckland Plan

  • Ash

    When is the government going to run out of wet blankets to throw on Auckland?

    • Ingolfson

      When one of their flunkies rules Auckland, and does what they want? We are just a fiefdom to them, which is currently in rebellion and has to be put down.

  • Jeremy

    Nothing new and nothing useful for the council in that response. I always thought the SuperCity was formed to help pay off the Rugby World Cup and bring the tax base together to help out poor performing councils. In the Government’s view of transport and development a three City Structure would have fit better with their views that Manukau City council and the Mayors pre 2006 proposed.

  • TimR

    On the other hand….

    A skim throught the letter leaves me with the impression that the Government is NOT:

    – Challenging use of an MUL
    – Endorsing the overall development strategy, only noting that it sees 60:40 as “more realistic”
    – Supporting many of the Council’s approaches to the Plan in terms of housing and general development direction

  • TimR

    Whoops. Meant to say it IS supporting most dev strategy and housing aspects, and NOT challenging use of an MUL in a big way

  • Jeremy

    “address forecast congestion under the likely land use pattern” the tune hasn’t changed and will never change.

  • Linz

    They really are dinosaurs aren’t they. How utterly bizarre that $2b for the CRL with its high (and professionally peer-reviewed BCR) cannot be afforded; yet somehow we can afford $14b for RONS with negative BCRs. Yet they try to promote the myth that they are careful and responsible economic managers.

    • Yet they try to promote the myth that they are careful and responsible economic managers.

      Very, very successfully, too. The mythology of National’s solid economic management credentials is widely accepted.

  • Publius

    I don’t think National object to tolling roads, but object to Auckland having revenue to be independent.
    The removal of the Auckland region fuel tax would back this up.

  • JeffT

    If the government does not want to shoulder its share of funding on transport infrastructure to support Auckland’s growing population, why doesn’t it propose some policies to shift the increasing numbers around the country.

    Successive government’s immigration (which I like) policies have caused the issues for Auckland. It’s going to take more than just building more riads to address them (Gerry Brownlee).

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