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Source: New Zealand Parliament – Hansard

Question No. 5—Transport

5. SIMEON BROWN (National—Pakuranga) to the Minister of Transport: What are his priorities as Minister of Transport?

Hon DAVID PARKER (Minister of Transport): My priorities in the transport portfolio are many, but I have a strong focus on road maintenance and congestion. After nine years of the prior Government underfunding maintenance and the resealing of State highways, this Government has delivered the largest investment in road maintenance and resealing ever. But the quality of our roads is still not up to scratch, and one of my priorities is to improve the condition of our highways. I’m also prioritising working closely with the Mayor of Auckland to sort out Auckland’s transport priorities.

Simeon Brown: Is it the Government’s priority to deliver a $30 billion Auckland Light Rail, and, if so, when will construction start, if ever?

Hon DAVID PARKER: Final decisions on Auckland Light Rail haven’t been taken, and I’m not expecting them to be taken until after the election.

Simeon Brown: Now that the Minister has more time to focus on transport, will he stop forcing local councils to reduce speed limits on local roads, as promised by the Prime Minister when he chucked speed limit reductions on the policy bonfire earlier this year?

Hon DAVID PARKER: The member will be interested to know that that falls within the delegation of the Hon Damien O’Connor. [Interruption] I think that might be a signal.

Simeon Brown: Can the Minister name one major new roading project that was started and completed under this Government, and, if not, are roads not a priority for this Government?

Hon DAVID PARKER: I would test the patience of the House if I read these very long lists. I know that my predecessor, the Hon Michael Wood, often did it. I’m sure that if the member, you know, opened his ears, he would have already heard the answers. The other thing I would say is, in respect of the member’s alternative, he doesn’t have a plan—he’s got a series of unfunded, un-costed announcements.

Hon Michael Woodhouse: Point of order. The fact that a list, in the Minister’s eyes, is so long should not take away from his obligation to address the question, which is perhaps to give us one or two of—

SPEAKER: Yeah, you shouldn’t take a point of order like that with a narrative. Get to the point of order, and it is—

Hon Michael Woodhouse: The point is he hasn’t addressed the question.

SPEAKER: No, he will sit down now because it has been addressed—quite clearly addressed.

Hon Damien O’Connor: As he was taking on the portfolio, in his briefings, was there any reference to a “sweat the assets” policy, and, if so, is that still the policy that is in place by the Ministry of Transport or Waka Kotahi?

Hon DAVID PARKER: What was in the briefings were graphs of the required level of State highway resurfacing in order to maintain the quality of the State highway network. The briefings given to me said that resurfacing needs to cover about 9 percent of the roads per annum so that they don’t crack up and become full of potholes. On the nine years prior to 2017, road resurfacing dropped from 9 percent to 5 percent.

Simeon Brown: Can he confirm that Let’s Get Wellington Moving has spent over $59 million on consultants, compared to just $4.7 million on construction, and is it his priority to get Wellington moving or consulting?

Hon DAVID PARKER: I don’t have that number before me, but it is correct that we don’t have a “Ministry of Works” in New Zealand, and every road that is built in New Zealand is designed by consultants who are called “engineers”, is consented by consultants who are called “planners”, and is built by contractors who are called “Fulton Hogan, Downer Group, and others”.