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Source: New Zealand Parliament – Hansard

Question No. 6—Transport

Hon TODD McCLAY (National—Rotorua): Thank you, Mr Speaker. To the Minister of Tourism, does he stand by his decision not to provide support to outbound tourism operators—

SPEAKER: Order! Order! Order! I don’t think that you’re Mr Bishop.

Hon Todd McClay: We look a lot alike, but you’re right.

SPEAKER: Well, I don’t think that’s kind to either of you. Mr Bishop.

6. CHRIS BISHOP (National—Hutt South) to the Minister of Transport: It’s certainly not kind to Mr McClay. Does he think that there have been failures in the transport portfolio in this term of Parliament; if so, what are they?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD (Minister of Transport): In this term, we uncovered that Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) failed to properly regulate the transport sector going back many years. Safety is our Government’s top priority, and we’re getting the Transport Agency back on track after the last Government failed to. This term we also had to fix the failure to properly invest in Auckland by filling the $6 billion hole that Simon Bridges left in the Auckland Transport Alignment Project. Another failure that we uncovered this term was the flat-lining of road maintenance spending which has meant more potholes for drivers. We’re investing $5.5 billion to play catch-up–that’s $1.3 billion more than the former Government did–to fix up New Zealand’s roads and bring them up to scratch. In this term, we fixed a number of failures, as well as getting on with getting New Zealand moving.

Chris Bishop: Does he consider it a failure that, after three years, when light rail was meant to have been built to Mount Roskill from the Auckland CBD, the project hasn’t even started?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: No. As the member knows, parties couldn’t agree and Cabinet’s asked the Ministry of Transport to do more work on the Auckland light rail project to be ready for the new Government to consider after the election. But, in the meantime, we’re actually getting one with rapid transit in Auckland by building things like the Eastern Busway, extending the Northern Busway, electrification of rail to Pukekohe, and two new stations at Drury. All the last Government did in Auckland was leave a $6 billion hole.

Chris Bishop: Does he consider it a failure that his State highway funding cuts caused what the Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Council called “an infrastructure crisis”?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: Well, I don’t know how the member can say that we cut State highway funding when, in January, we announced more than $5 billion of new fully funded State highways on top of the record spending on roads that we were already doing.

Chris Bishop: Is he denying that the 2018 Government Policy Statement (GPS) on transport, and the subsequent National Land Transport Programme that arose from that GPS, cut the State highway improvements activity class over the 10-year period?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: The fact is, in the 10-year period, we were spending more on roads than the former National Government ever did. Now, the member likes to suggest that this Government hasn’t built any roads, but I suggest he talks to his colleague Mark Mitchell, who was an enthusiastic participant the other day at sod-turning on the Matakana Link Road. In fact, he was so enthusiastic he took credit for the project—in the local newspaper—which was funded, consented, and had been constructed under this Government.

Chris Bishop: Does he consider it a failure that after three years, the East-West Link re-evaluation has not even been uploaded to the NZTA website, and no progress has been made on the project?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: No, actually I consider it to be an act of fiscal prudence on the part of this Government that we pulled the plug on a project that would have been the most expensive roading project in world history. Now, I know the member thinks he can tunnel his way to victory by promising un-funded roads and un-funded tunnels, but surely he has learnt the lesson from the bridges of Northland.

Paul Eagle: Does he think that there have been successes in the transport portfolio in this term of Government; if so, what are they?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: As a matter of fact, we’ve secured $196 million for our Wellington rail package; we’ve started getting rail back on track after it was left in a state of managed decline under the former Government, investing $4.6 billion in our rail network; there are $6.8 billion of transport projects for our six high-growth cities under the New Zealand Upgrade Programme; we gave the green light to the Manawatū Gorge replacement project; we’ve made sure that our regions have been connected during the COVID pandemic—

SPEAKER: Order! Order! Enough.

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: Oh, sorry, Mr Speaker.

Kieran McAnulty: What more can the Minister say to enlighten the House on the successes of this Government’s transport package?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: Well, surprisingly, Mr Speaker, there is more. We’ve negotiated the landmark Let’s Get Wellington Moving project, the biggest investment in Wellington City after a decade of no action; we’ve doubled the funding for New Zealand Land Search and Rescue, we’ve extended the expiry of drivers’ licences, warrants of fitness, and certificates of fitness during the COVID pandemic—and there’s so much more.

SPEAKER: OK, thank you.

Chris Bishop: Just in relation to his last comment about tunnelling, what correspondence, if any, has he received from the member of Parliament for Rongotai about bringing forward the Mount Victoria tunnel to deliver what the eastern suburbs of Wellington actually want?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: Well, the member for Rongotai doesn’t have to write to me about these issues; we talk about transport issues constantly, because on this side of the House, our members advocate for their electorates constantly and effectively.

SPEAKER: Julie Anne Genter.

Hon Members: Oh!

SPEAKER: Order! Both of you.

Hon Julie Anne Genter: Does he consider it a failure or a success that this Government has more than doubled the funding for road safety improvements and increased the number of roading police relative to the previous Government?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: I thank the member for that question, because she’s quite right to raise the issue that the former Government allowed the number of deaths on our roads to blow out by 50 percent, way in excess of population increase or vehicle kilometres travelled. This Government is now investing a billion dollars a year in saving lives on the roading network, because safety is our top priority.

Chris Bishop: Does he consider it a failure that after repeated urging, he failed to release the Associate Minister of Transport’s—or Green Party transport spokesperson’s—secret letter to him about the Mount Vic tunnel?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: No, the member likes to quibble with conspiracy theories. On this side of the House, we’re getting on with getting New Zealand moving.

Hon Julie Anne Genter: Does he consider it a failure or success that this House passed unanimously the first reading of a bill to introduce random roadside drug testing, which the previous Government failed to do in nine years?


SPEAKER: The member can answer the first part of it, but he’s not responsible for the second.

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: Well, I do consider it a success, because that’s been an issue that’s been outstanding for too long, beyond this term of Government. Our Government has done it, we’ve done the policy work, and we’ve—

SPEAKER: Order! Order! The member got a clear instruction.